Anda di halaman 1dari 28

East Central Writing Centers Association

Winter 2012

Community Literacy Can Operate within Writing Centers
Christy Oslund Michigan Technological University
Community Literacy is usually considered the domain of the composition classroom and teacher. Some writing centers, such as Michigan States, reach out to the wider off-campus community. But there is a group of writers who are present on campus who would benefit from the services of the writing center in a community literacy context. This group consists of campus-staff who are from the working class community. I have worked with such a group of working class campus-staff in the Michigan Technological University Writing Center; their peers can be found on campuses across the nation. These working class writers are waiting for writing centers to recognize the larger literacy needs on our own campuses. In Ways with Words (1983), Shirley Brice Heath showed that professional class and working class communities and families differently prepare their children when it comes to expectations regarding what the uses of literacy are and what the relationship of student and school will be. Deborah Brandt has shown that socio-economics Continued on page 3

Winter 2012
Community Literacy Can Operate within Writing Centers Identifying the Writing Center A Fall for Fellows: Implementing and Assessing a Writing Fellows Program The Use of Specific Positive Feedback in Writing Center Pedagogy Beyond Improved WritingHow Challenge Helped a Basic Writing Student Learn New Life Skills Idea/Thought Ownership Vs. Paper Ownership 1

5 8




A letter from the conference co-chair Annual Conference Guide Tutor Voices 2 14 17 21 23

This Issue: A Note from the Editor

What a full newsletter this one is! We are pleased to publish six interesting pieces from all over our region, including several pieces from previous regional conferences. Of particular interest to our readers should be the way writing centers are depicted in these pieces, dynamic centers of change. We are certain you will enjoy much center dialogue centered on what these authors have to share. With great excitement, we await the 2012 ECWCA Annual Conference in Indianapolis this coming March. To help get everyone as excited as we are, the conference hosts have prepared some remarks and tips for travel and presentations. See page 14. Along with our Tutor Voices section, we have included a couple Tutor Tips we collected at last years Idea Exchange (held at the conference). We have more and will be sharing them with you over the next several months. See page 21. There are also many Calls in this issue. Consider each a personal invitation to engage in the mission of the ECWCA. See page 23. We look forward to continuing the conversation! -Anthony Garrison

Tutor Tips Calls

By speaking the unspoken literacy understandings of professionals, we can unlock literacy doors for working class campus members. This is challenging work with further reaching potential, work that could be carried beyond campus and beyond the writing center.
-Christy Oslund Michigan Technological University

East Central Writing Centers Association

Letter from the Annual Conference Hosts

The University Writing Center Staff of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI to us, but the American university with the longest name to all you Jeopardy fans) is excited to welcome you to our fine city (home of Super Bowl 2012 for all you sports fans) on March 30-31 for this years ECWCA Conference. A while back, a few of us lifers were sitting around discussing whether to volunteer to host the ECWCA Conference. We opted for 2012 because, as we reasoned, the world was ending in 2012 and we would look magnanimous for volunteering, yet the intervening apocalypse meant we'd never really have to do it! Only later did we realize the world wouldnt end until December, so here we are hustling and bustling to present our campus to our fellow writing center professionals. Thus our conference theme emerged: Its the End of the World as We Know it: Negotiating Change in a Writing Center Context. Change has been a fixture in our writing center over the last decade as we have planted satellite locations, switched to Accutrak then Tutortrac, doubled the size of the staff and number of tutorials per semester, lost a peer tutor to cancer, and tackled online tutoring, among other fascinating bits. This spring semester marks the last we will spend in the location we have occupied for 25 years before we give up our wonderful view and move to a larger center in the basement. But as the conference proposals confirmed, other centers have similar stories to tell. We look forward to hearing about the changes in your centers. So please join us in Indianapolis in March to celebrate the end of the world as we know it. Youll be glad you did. Lynn JettpaceIUPUI University Writing Center Associate Director and ECWCA 2012 Conference Co-chair *As an aside, I understand the board is looking for a host for 2013, so some other lucky school may cash in on the December 2012 apocalypse.

Special Note

We wish both Sri Upadhyay and Rori Hoatlin the best in their future endeavors. Both have worked hard to help this newsletter come to life. Each piece in this newsletter is touched by multiple hands in order to move it from submission to published artifact. If you wish to be a part of the process, see the call at the end of this newsletter.

The East Central Writing Centers Association (ECWCA), an affiliate of the International Writing Centers Association, is the oldest Writing Center organization in the world. There are over 475 writing centers represented within our region; we serve writing centers in high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and specialized centers throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, as well as other regions nearby. Members of ECWCA include tutors, directors, and faculty interested in writing center work. We are a scholarly and professional organization, as well as a network and resource for people involved in writing center work.



Past President: Jay D. Sloan, Kent State University at Stark (OH) President: Jackie Grutsch McKinney, Ball State University (IN) Vice-President: Jo Ann Vogt, Indiana University (IN) Secretary: Megan Ward, Northwestern Michigan College (MI) Treasurer: Trixie Smith, Michigan State University (MI) Three-Year At-Large Member: Anthony Garrison, Kent State University (OH) Three-Year At-Large Member: Kim Cole, Lansing Community College (MI) Three-Year At-Large Member: Kim Ballard, Western Michigan University (MI) Two-Year At-Large Member: Ashley Ellison, Ball State University (IN)

Winter 2012
Continued form page 1 also affect the types of literacy sponsors a person will encounter not just in childhood but continuing into adulthood. In Literacy and Learning (2009) for example, Brandt observed that a professional class family was able to introduce their child to computer literacy and a home computer in grade school; that childs same age peer from a working class family did not have her first computer experience until high school. In thirteen years of teaching at three different Michigan universities, Ive observed that students in the Mid-West seem uncomfortable with the idea that class and socioeconomics will play a role in the potential futures they will enjoy this seems to be the anti-American dream. Those who rise from working-class status to wealth and power, or Ivy League educations, are the notable exceptions; it is more myth than reality that anyone can rise to any social level in the U.S.. The class we are born into is the first, and arguably strongest determinate of how we will be taught to use literacy and, therefore, what our economic potentials will be. Writing centers can play a specific role in helping working class campus-staff break through these invisible literacy barriers. The first step a writing center can play in both community literacy and in breaking these invisible barriers is to open their doors to the working class campus-staff to perform a job audit. Most institutions use some type of job audit review form. These forms are designed to guide employees through a process of selfreview related to the duties they complete. These completed reviews in turn, often impact the job and pay level an employee will obtain. Such forms commonly ask for the number of people one works with and supervises, the departments or other work areas one interacts with, the seasonal nature of ones responsibilities, how often one has contact with the public, the confidentiality of the material handled, and the amount of money generated by the position, or handled by the employee. For those of us educated from childhood to think about literacy as a daily practice, these seem like straightforward questions with straightforward answers. I was required to examine these expectations more closely though, when some women in the United Auto Workers (UAW) union approached Michigan Techs writing center during the summer I was the coordinator, and asked me to explicate what our local job audit form was really asking for. It was then I became aware that the implicit literacy expectations between the professional class staff who had designed the form, and the implicit literacy expectations of the working class staff who had to fill out and file the form, were not the same. In fact, they were so different that my job as a writing center consultant became verbalizing, leading discussions about, and giving examples that clarified these differences. This is work that more writing centers and consultants should be taking on. In order to facilitate a conversation about this kind of community literacy within the writing center, I will offer a few examples of the differences in literacy expectations I found and some examples of how we worked through them. I should also clarify that while the staff I worked with were UAW members, this may sound deceptive; at least when I think of the UAW, I think of auto plants. These women worked in offices as support staff. Their supervisors assumed that because the UAW staff handled paper and worked with the public, that they also shared similar literacy expectations and experience with their managers. Most people are not aware that different social classes use, and teach their children different uses for literacy. As Heath noted, while professionals expect to use reading and writing daily as a way of learning and communicating, working class families are more likely to value teaching and communicating through hands-on experience and observation. Working class families including families like my grandparents use reading and writing for newspaper advertisements, letters or seasonal cards to family, recipes and grocery lists. When teaching me to do something, my grandparents had me practice alongside them. In a working class environment, if I want to learn how a worker does her job, I would either watch her work, or work alongside her learning what she does by having her teach me. Guidance There was a guide provided to accompany the job audit form that was meant to support the staff in filling out the form. Analyzing an excerpt from the guide is another way to understand the difference in literacy uses and expectations between managers and working class staff. There are no magic words to move a position to a higher level. The purpose of this guide is to assist the office professional in completing their audit form. Use the areas listed in each of the headings as a beginning for the completion of your audit form. Feel free to use other words that may better describe what is required for your position. There is a list of action verbs at the end of this guide. (1) For those of us used to working with words, this may seem like a very clear and self-explanatory paragraph.

East Central Writing Centers Association

After working with the UAW staff, though, I found that there were a number of implicit literacy expectations they did not share. The managers who wrote this paragraph share the following expectations: Everyone learns to do by reading Everyone knows the difference between magic words, their own words, and action words Everyone already knows how to describe with language Everyone already knows how to effectively use action words Everyone has a complex enough understanding of literacy contexts to make choices about how they will write something, e.g. Feel free to use words that may better describe Again, these may seem like safe assumptions. Everyone, for example, knows what an action word is, right? Weve all been exposed to action words since elementary school. The viewpoint that we all know action words comes from growing up with literacy as part of daily life. Telling someone who doesnt use written words to talk about his own daily actions, that he needs to sit down and describe what he does using action words, would be like a farmer telling the average person to sit down and milk a cow. While the words are comprehensible, how to carry out the act is not explained by the words. Consider if the cow is out in a large field. How are you going to sit down and milk it? Do you find a bucket and bring it out to the field? Do you try and move the cow? How do you move a cow? Now consider, if I am not even certain what you expect to read when you ask me to describe what I do in my job. How am I supposed to know what you expect when you ask me to use action words in that description? If writing about myself and my work is not something Im familiar with in fact it may be something Ive never even done before how does telling me to just do it help educate me? In order to explain what the expectations were to UAW staff, I realized we first needed to think about the bigger picture, i.e. lets start by talking about what a staff person does every day. We began with talking because this was how the UAW staff implicitly expected to tell someone what their job is talking, not writing. Even talking is secondary; as said earlier, if you really want to know what someone does, the implicit expectation is that you work alongside them, or observe them. I used what I had seen of office work, what I had experienced by working in an office, to ask more questions about what they told me. As they spoke about their work, I wrote down lists of job duties they were describing. Once we had a list of the duties associated with a job, we began to practice writing about the duty, and again I showed exampleswriting alongside themof how we could describe the job. In other words, we were writing about the same thing at the same time. This is an exception to how literacy education is usually carried out in a writing center. However, I think it is a critical part of making implicit literacy expectations explicit. Just as a farmer wouldnt really be helping me if she just said, Get the bucket, milk the cow, it isnt hard just saying, Now write a few sentences about that part of your job using action words is not helpful to someone who does not have a background in writing about her own work. Seeing an example and then having the opportunity for hands-on practice makes a world of learning difference. This is also how working class staff might implicitly expect to learn new things through hands on practice, working alongside the person teaching them. After we had written about a duty for a while, we verbally compared our responses, and I showed them what I valued in their written response by repeating phrases I found effective in their writing, and sometimes writing down key words they had used. I was consciously making explicit the kinds of word choices that my experience had taught me managers would value. They followed my example and would make notes of particular phrasings I wrote that they thought sounded good. The campus-staff worker would then take their notes home from one session, revise what they had written, and return in a following session with a revised description of the job duty. The work became their own through the revision and redesign process (New London Group). Every campus employs working class staff; often these staff members will be expected to meet professional class literacy expectations without having been given enough training or education in how to meet these literacy expectations. I am not talking about word processing other peoples words. I am specifically talking about work-literacy tasks such as filling out a personal job audit review form. The individual workers economic well being in such cases is tied to meeting professional class/managerial staffs literacy expectations, which they often do not share and for which they may not have been prepared. When a writing center consultant writes alongside a working class client, explicating literacy expectations and providing hands-on practice and real time examples makes a learning difference. This is a form of literacy

Winter 2012
education with social justice implications. By speaking the unspoken literacy understandings of professionals, we can unlock literacy doors for working class campus members. This is challenging work with further reaching potential, work that could be carried beyond campus and beyond the writing center. The writing center is well suited however, to hosting a fruitful discussion about how such concepts can be applied uniquely on a range of campuses. I hope this is a conversation more people will take up. References Brandt, D. (2009). Literacy and learning: Reflections on writing, reading and society. New York: Jossey-Bass. Heath, S.B. (1983). Ways With Words: Language, Life, and Works in Communities and Classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press. Michigan State University Writing Center. About Us 518-10. Michigan Technological University. (2004). UAW position audit guide. hro/forms/UAWaudi1.doc. New London Group. (2000). A pedagogy of mulitiliteracies: designing social futures. Mulitiliteracies. Cope, B. & M. Kalantzis (eds.) New York: Routledge, 9-38.

Identifying the Writing Center

Nicole I. Caswell & Courtney L. Werner Kent State University
At the 2011 Northeast Ohio Writing Centers Association conference (NEOWCA), tutors and directors from the area joined for a day of reflection on tutoring practices. While the conference focused on identity, Jay Sloans keynote presentation, The Myth of Writing Center Neutrality, pushed us to think about the theory behind our presentation and to borrow ideas about reflective theory and practice from Louise Phelpss Images of Student Writing. Phelps presents teachers, tutors, and directors a way to further understand the theory behind our practice with an arc moving from practice to theory and back to practice: PTP (37). This arc allows individuals to look beyond behavior per se to define the underlying conceptual schemas that shape the attitudes and choices of both teachers and students (37). We use the reciprocal arc to understand what shapes our decisions in the writing center. Sloans presentation, while not focused on reflection, had us thinking about writing center theory and reflecting on why tutors make certain decisions in tutorials. What was most interesting to us in Sloans presentation was the concept of identity, which led us to think about our presentation on identity in a different way. Sloans presentation focused on contact zones and the misguided notion of the writing center as a safe place. His conclusion was a push for a new model of the writing center tutorial, and in our eyes, a new identity for the writing center. Our focus on identity fits nicely with Sloans call for interpreting the writing center through a critical lens. While we did not challenge the tutorial necessarily, we did challenge our participants to engage in reflective

practice of their intellectual work as tutors and directors, and we challenged tutors to be more critical of the identities they present during conferencea challenge that works nicely in conjunction with Sloans. We focused on identity in the writing center in two parts: (1) tutor training and (2) the writing center as a whole. This article is organized around these two focal points. First, we discuss why identity is relevant and important for a writing center to consider. Then, we discuss tutor identity formation as a form of tutor training. Finally, we present identity-related issues writing centers benefit from considering. Our goal in this article is to provide writing centers with a few identity-related tutor training activities and a few thought provoking identity-related questions with the intent of improving the writing center in multiple ways. Tutors, Identity, and Tutor Training According to Anne Ellen Geller, Michele Eodice, Frankie Condon, Meg Carroll and Elizabeth H. Boquet, identity relates to what tutors bring into the center: When we come together in a writing center, we bring with us those naming and framing practices in which we have been schooled as well as those we have cultivated based on lived experience (54). Thus, what tutors bring to writing centers - either new tutors bringing experiences from the outside or veteran tutors merging their identities with their experiences - led us to understand identity as a meaningful aspect that we may or may not consider. In particular, Malcolm Gladwell considers identity to be immediate, automatic associations, [tumbling] out before weve even had time to think (as qtd. in Geller et al. 85). He also argues, our unconscious attitudes may be utterly incompatible with our stated conscious values (as qtd. in Geller et al. 85). What we consider an important aspect in the discussion of identity (aside from how it

East Central Writing Centers Association

connects to reflective practice) is that identity is not static: writing center practices that merely focus on the individual as he or she is at any one point in time may prevent tutors identity formation as writers and as participants in the writing center community of practice. Identity is not static (Geller et al. 75). We may or may not be aware of our identities, and, because identities are so often taken for granted, we may not be aware of how our identities shift over time as numerous tutors come in and out of the center. With ever-evolving identities, the discussion of identity formation can become a constant aspect of tutor development and not a single topic to be covered and moved on from. For us, identity relates to reflective practice because we want tutors to consider their identity and how their identity shapes the decisions they make, the practices they engage in, and the activities they present to student-writers. While tutors may not need to be familiar with every theory behind every writing center practice, it is important for tutors to reflect on the choices they make during tutorial sessions. It is with this connection to reflective practice that identity can be understood as a valuable component of tutor training. For example, by considering their identities, tutors could: Understand their own personalities and how they feel about their work in the center. Consider ways to market1 themselves to student-writers when beginning tutorial sessions. Understand how to adapt their practices to meet the writers identities and needs as sessions progress. identities, but none of these books asks tutors to critically examine the identities they present to the student-writers with whom they work. We suggest tutors need to take a critical approach to acknowledging their own identities and how those identities play out during the tutorial. During our presentation, we asked our participants to consider what their identity was in the writing center. One of the first topics of discussion was considering what tutors are called: consultants, peer tutors, tutors, or something else altogether. Inherent within each of these terms is a particular identity. During our discussion, participants linked peer with a undergraduate student staff, while tutor seemed to imply a more professional staff (perhaps comprised of adjuncts, NTT, and TT faculty). Some participants suggested consultants worked around this problem, putting both undergraduate and other types of staff in the same category of writing expert who would consult with students in an effort to improve that students writing abilities (and the paper in front of them). Participants in the session did not have the power to necessarily change their titles, but they did tell us that it was a discussion they wanted to have with their staff. Titles seemed to be one of the few moments of identity that seemed static in the center. Tutors do not move to consultants to peer writers over time; however, participants mentioned that they may embrace the identity of a consultant or writing expert even if they were given the title tutor. One way we envision capturing identity as it shifts over the span of a tutors career in the writing center is through an identity log. In this log, either completed after every session, daily, or weekly, tutors write down their thoughts and reflections about their identity during tutorials. Tutors could be prompted with a question (for example, what writerly or tutorly identity did you embrace during the tutorial? What evidence do you have to support that identity?), which they respond to every timepossibly making it easier to look for patterns throughout their sessions. Similarly, tutors can free-write on decisions they made during the tutorial. At the end of the semester, or during staff meetings, tutors could be asked to reread and reflect upon their entries seeing how their identities have shifted, developed, or remained static. Then, they can use these moments to consider how identity may relate to their strengths and weaknesses in tutorial sessions. However, it is equally important to make sure tutors do not feel as though their identity is wrong or should change, only that the situation and their new experiences are helping them shape and grow as tutors. Tutors should feel free to critically explore their identities while aiming to shift their identities where and when they see fit.

A writing center is only as helpful as its tutors. Because every tutor brings a particular identity to the writing center - a particular set of experiences, both academic and personal, each tutor is different and approaches the tutorial in a different way. Like the authors of The Everyday Writing Center (Anne Ellen Geller, Michele Eodice, Frankie Condon, Meg Carroll and Elizabeth H. Boquet), we too want tutors to see themselves, the writers with whom they work, and the complex and dynamic conditions within tutorials through Coyote eyes--not as old problems with fixed solutions, but as moments of intrigue and as opportunities for wonderment and becoming (55). In particular, we want tutors to embrace their identity and use it as a means to improve their tutoring. Many tutor training books (The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors, The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring, and The St. Martins Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, to name a few examples) offer tutors ideas about how to develop their tutorly

Winter 2012
Some other ways tutors could consider their tutorly identity are by considering, at different points in their careers, the answers to inventory-like questions: 1. What are your greatest strengths as a tutor? 2. What are your biggest challenges as a tutor? 3 a. What kinds of writing are you most comfortable tutoring? Why do other types of writing make you uncomfortable? 3 b. What kinds of writing are you least comfortable tutoring? What specifically makes you uncomfortable when tutoring in regards to this type of writing? 4. What are your goals as a tutor? 5. What, for you, would be the best possible outcome of a tutoring session? After tutors answer these questions, they could consider where their answers come from (linking back to Phelpss PTP arc). Then, their answers can help tutors articulate their tutorly identities. To help tutors generate even more ideas about their tutorly identities, we suggest one activity in particular: have tutors create their own logos. Their logos should use shapes, images, colors, and text that are meaningful to them yet convey to a wide audience their tutoring styles, practices, and values. During our presentation some participants mentioned staff pages on their centers websites. The tutors logos could be added to the staff page as another medium of expressing their identity and communication styles. We asked the participants in our session to design and explain their tutoring logos. While our designing was limited to crayons and paper, the logos participants created expressed their identity in ways they said they never considered before. One participant chose to situate herself within the rhetorical triangle while another selected a blank page with a mini-wordle and blooming flowers. A third likened herself to a super hero, complete with mask and cape. This activity may come in handy for the center as well as its tutors, as we discuss in the next section. Writing Centers and Identity What we call our tutors and how our tutors define themselves matters, but how we project our centers to our campuses matters even more. Many scholars have commented on the need to have a space fostering the right sort of creativity--the right sort of identity-through its physical design: space and design decisions should result in a space where people enjoy spending time and where they are happy, productive, creative, and social (Hadfield et. al. 170). Then, in 2005, Jackie Grutsch McKinney pushed us to think about the identities our writing centers portray in Leaving Home Sweet Home: Towards Critical Readings of Writing Center Spaces. At the 2011 NEOWCA, Sloan also pushed attendees to move beyond the typical safe iterations of writing center spaces. We take their discussions farther, moving beyond the need to identify and label a physical space or tutors identities. Instead, we suggest writing centers take a proactive approach to crafting their identities; after all, what good is an inviting workspace if the center itself lacks a cohesive, concrete identity? A number of factors contribute to writing centers identities including the tutors who work there, the needs of the student body, the limitations of the space and resources available, and the objectives and goals the administration might have for the center. All of these factors come together to form the centers identity. In order to be proactive about this identity, writing centers can take some of the same steps weve suggested for tutors above. Rather than having tutors reflect individually about their personal identities, holding staff meetings and listserv discussions about how tutors view, interpret, and advertise the writing center is an excellent place to begin. The director should also consider assessing the centers identity as the campus understands it. Through adding a brief survey question on in-take forms to speaking informally with students and faculty, to hosting focus groups of multiple audiences, directors can develop a sense of what various constituents understand the centers identity (and role) to be. The identity the center thinks it is projecting may or may not be the image and identity the campus perceives. From there, the director can balance the tutors and campuss perceptions against her own conceptions of the centers identity. After a clear identity is outlined and articulated--perhaps put into writing through a mission statement--directors can begin using this identity to reinvigorate their centers. Tutors might be asked to collaboratively construct (or re-imagine) a writing centers logo or consultants from across campus might be able to be called in. Our presentation asked audience members to think about the current logos or marketing materials of their writing centers, even the words used to describe their centers (writing lab, writing center, writing commons, and writing studio were some of the titles given to participants centers). The words we label our centers

East Central Writing Centers Association

with and the ways in which outreach develops (through YouTube videos, Facebook, flyers, classroom announcements, emails, and word-of-mouth) are all indicators of a centers identity. One centers identity, in the form of marketing and space, stuck with us postpresentation: Eastern Kentucky Universitys Noel Studio for Academic Creativity utilizes a Lady Gaga-esque promotional video ( to get the word out. Another identity-related collaborative activity for tutors could be to compose a promotional video portraying a particular center identity. Identity comprises all aspects of the writing center: tutoring, marketing, location, space, services, etc. And, identity does not just stem from a central location, nor is it consistent. As the conference theme suggests, Negotiating Identity and Ideology: Writing Centers as Agents of Change, considering a centers identity is a way to begin thinking about change in the center. Without knowing the centers identity, how can the center be changed? It is better to determine the identity, articulate it, and then reshape that identity. Directors may discover the identity the center projects is successful. On the other hand, the center may be unwittingly projecting an image not aligned with its identity. Still, the centers visible identity may not have to change: the identity can be reaffirmed in the fulfillment of its mission. Asking tutors to be critically aware of their tutorly identities and of the centers identity can help clear up misconceptions about the center, reinvigorate already thriving centers, and become a component of ongoing tutor training.
use the term market as a way for tutors to highlight their strengths on different genres of writing or parts of the writing process. We do not use it in the typical, sales-oriented connotation.
1 We

Meg Carroll and Elizabeth H. Boquet. The Everyday Writing Center: A Community of Practice. Logan, UT: Utah State Press, 2007. Print. Gillespie, Paula and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. New York: Longman, 2000. Print. Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005. Print. Grutsch McKinney, Jackie. Leaving Home Sweet Home: Towards Critical Readings of Writing Center Spaces. The Writing Center Journal 25.2 (2005): 6-20. Print. Hadfield, Leslie, Joyce Kinkead, Tom C. Peterson, Stephanie H. Ray, and Sarah S. Preston. An Ideal Writing Center: Re-Imagining Space and Design. The Center Will Hold: Critical Perspectives on Writing Center Scholarship. Eds. Michael A. Pemberton and Joyce Kinkead. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2003: 166-174. Print. Murphy, Christina and Steve Sherwood. The St. Martins Sourcebook for Writing Tutors (3rd Ed.). New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2008. Print. Phelps, Louise. Images of Student Writing: The Deep Structure of Teacher Response. Writing and Response: Theory, Practice and Research. Ed. Chris Anson. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1989: 37-67. Print. Ryan, Leigh and Lisa Zimmerelli. The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors (4th Ed.). New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. Print Sloan, Jay. The Myth of Writing Center Neutrality. PowerPoint Presentation. October 15, 2011. NEOWCA Conference.

Works Cited Geller, Anne Ellen, Michele Eodice, Frankie Condon,

A Fall for Fellows: Implementing and Assessing a Writing Fellows Program

Tyler C. Scott Hall, Laura E. McLaughlin, Michael Mattison

Wittenberg University
Ours is not an entirely original story. In the fall of 2010, the Wittenberg University Writing Center instituted a writing fellows program.1 Modeled in part after HaringSmiths (1992) version of such a program at Brown

University, the fellows program was largely a response to the perceived bi-modal nature of the schools incoming class: a mix between students who were reasonably well prepared for college writing and those who were not at all ready. What differed for this program was that writing fellows were assigned to sections of English 101 rather than courses in other disciplines; and, though each writing fellow was expected to meet at least once with every student in the class during the drafting process, each fellow and instructor could fashion the program in a manner that would best meet the needs of his/her class. The fellows,

Winter 2012
therefore, had different experiences and responsibilities. One of our main goals, not surprisingly, was to form what Decker (2005) has termed diplomatic partnerships, alliances between the fellows and the teachers, and between the Writing Center and the classrooms. Doing so required the writing fellows to occupy a liminal role, existing between professor and student, navigating the classroom and the Writing Center, instruction and peer review. Operating within this loosely defined role, the fellows aimed to decrease writing anxiety in incoming students, strengthen basic writing skills, and encourage a processoriented approach to college-level writing. By working with one group of students through an entire course, the fellows (ideally) would be able to see long-term improvement and develop strategies for working with individual writers in ways that were empowering and facilitative. Constructing Partnerships Our program started to take shape at the end of the Spring 2010 semester. Five professors who expressed interest in the initiative came together with five advisors from the Writing Center to discuss plans for the following fall. Arranging our chairs into a circle, we began with a group conversation about what shared values and goals should comprise our practical guideposts. We all had questions: What is the fellows role in the day-to-day classroom? Where should she sit? How can she participate? Must she be present for each class? What key messages do we want to send about writing? And, how can professors keep from overextending their fellows? After the group talked through some of these issues, the fellows and professors met in pairs, working out ideas for the coming term. Some of the fellows, like Tyler and Laura, had previous experience with their professors, having taken courses from them before, and they were easily able to slip into conversations about what might work for the 101 class. For all the authors of this article, the meeting was one of the most energetic and positive moments of the program there was a palpable excitement in the room as the advisors and professors brainstormed together. This was the type of beginning we hoped to have with our partnerships, and we reminded ourselves at the meeting that communication between advisor and faculty member would be key to our program. In addition to attending this early meeting, the advisors also spent some time during the summer thinking about their role as fellows: they read Haring-Smiths article, along with David Bartholomaes Inventing the University; before the start of the school year, they each wrote a letter to their class, introducing themselves as writers and offering some thoughts about writing at the college level. Here was a space for them to give some early advice, as Tyler did: You will soon find that what was sufficient writing in high school wont work quite the same in college. Starting in this class, you will be asked to form opinions, dig for deeper truths, and stand up for your arguments. . . . I had to learn right out of the gate that its okay to ditch a paragraph, a page, or even a whole idea mid-way through an assignment, even switching perspectives in the middle of revisions. Value Added Peer tutoring, as Bruffee (1984) argues, should provide a social context in which students can experience and practice the kinds of conversation that academics most value (7), and the students who participated in the sections of English 101 with writing fellows seem to have had those conversations. As one student commented in her end-of-semester evaluation, the fellow could understand the criteria from already taking the class. She knew what the professor wanted in the papers. Another student remarked that it helped to have an outside perspective that was both participating and experienced. We think that phrase nicely sums up the fellows rolean experienced participant in the writing process. On the whole, the students in the classes strongly agreed that the fellows helped them improve their writing, gave them more confidence about their writing, and provided constructive feedback. And, the majority recommended that future sections of English 101 use writing fellows. The fellows also found an opportunity to create a larger social context for their students. Because most English 101 courses require a final research paper, the fellows recognized a chance for collaboration between the classes, and before long the idea for a Research Paper Workshop was born. On a Thursday evening in mid-November, students from all five classes gathered for an hour of interactive programming and an elaborate spread of baked goodies. Each fellow had designed a ten-minute activity on a topic related to research paper writing, from Organization to Titles and Transitions to MLA Citation. Separated into groups of six, students traveled to each station, where they discussed how to effectively utilize their sources, how to keep their paragraphs focused, and how to maintain a thesis-driven and well-supported argument. There were raffle prizes as well, but the highlight of the evening was to hear all the students talking about their papers, learning together as a group. Unfortunately, the fellows dual role as peer and professional also created problems. One professor

East Central Writing Centers Association

expressed concern about her fellows workload when she discovered that some students were leaning too heavily on the fellows expertise. She wrote, I thought they would find meeting with her less intimidating, but then, like so many little ducklings, they seem to have imprinted on her. Among the fellows, the line between imprinting and empowering caused unease and elicited much conversation. The encouraging and informed second perspective fellows sought to provide was in some cases interpreted as the advice of a mini-professor, or what Bruffee (1978) has called a little teacher (446). To this dilemma there were no easy answers. The fellows worked to encourage their more attached students to trust their own writers voice, largely through minimalist tutoring techniques. They also recommend that these writers begin talking with other advisors in the Writing Center. They would still have someone to talk with, but someone a bit removed from the course. Conclusion Though it is too early to write any definite conclusion to our story, we are heartened by the early responses to the fellows program. Given the positive evaluations from students in the first semester, as well as the support of the professors, we used writing fellows in more sections of English 101 in spring of 2011. And for fall of 2011, we expanded the program to include our first-year seminar, WittSem. We will have twelve fellows for this fall, and we hope to continue to grow the program from here. Key for us will be continuing to emphasize the close communication, the partnership, between fellow and faculty member. Well give the final word to one of the faculty members from the first semester: The program has been a positive experience and certainly [the fellows] presence has had the effect I hoped for: he has modeled the value of academic literacy and increased the overall perceived value of the course for my students. References Bruffee, K. (1978). Training and using peer tutors. College English 40, 432-49. Bruffee, K. (1984). Peer tutoring and the conversation of mankind. Writing centers: Theory and administration. Ed. G. A. Olson. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 3-15. Decker, T. (2005). Diplomatic relations: Peer tutors in the writing classroom. On location: Theory and practice in classroom-based writing tutoring. Ed. C. Spigelman and L. Grobman. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 17-30. Haring-Smith, T. (1992). Changing students attitudes: Writing fellows programs. Writing across the curriculum: A guide to developing programs. Ed. S. H. McLeod and M. Soven. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 175-188.
Tyler and Laura are both writing advisors and writing fellows at Wittenberg University; Mike is the director of the Writing Center and coordinator of the Fellows program.
1Wittenberg University is a small liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio, with approximately 1800 students; the Writing Center usually has twentyfive writing advisors on staff each year.

The Use of Specific Positive Feedback in Writing Center Pedagogy

Rori Hoatlin

Georgia College
Original presentation: Carly Crookston, Rori Hoatlin, Allie Oosta, Grand Valley State University

very beneficial; it helps students to feel at ease about their writing and more trusting of the advice we, consultants, give on how to improve that writing. When students come into any writing center it can be easy to look over the paper, talk about the big points, and then discuss with the student a laundry list of itemized problems that need fixing. Often in the thirty-minute time crunch, it is easy to forget the big purpose of the writing center: to enable students to become better writers. For the purpose of this article, I look at how positive and negativenegative here being that itemized list of things that need to be fixedfeedback works in a peer-to-peer creative writing workshop. I then focus on exactly how that positive feedback might work in a writing center setting. In our initial study of the creative writing workshop, we found, among other points of interest, that many students were breezing through the positive feedback portion of both the feedback they were giving as well as receiving. In the

This article will discuss our observations from an initial study of the creative writing workshop. We observed peer-review sessions of multiple creative writing courses. This article discusses that experience from my perspective. I write this piece with the permission of the other peer-tutor researchers involved in the project. As consultants, we have often heard that using positive feedback and language with students is


Winter 2012
200-level Introduction to Creative Writing class, 92% of the students gave giving comments like, I really liked your workdont know what else to say. Good job! Their intent seemed intended to build the writer up, but these peer-reviewers neglected to point to specific things they liked about their peers writinggiving the writers limited insight into what was good. Even as we looked at the 400-level (the highest level offered at Grand Valley State University) workshops in creative writing, we still found that 32% of students gave nonspecific feedback. Though it wasnt as blatantly obvious as the 200-level course, it was still present in comments such as, I really liked your dialogue. Or, Your style is really great. The reviewers were using appropriate terms, dialogue and style, but they still werent being specific. Great writers often repeat the skills that work well for them, but if students arent giving one another feedback that they can apply, how will developing writers improve? How will the writer receiving the comment, I really liked your dialogue, use the comment to repeat the strength? Would the writer assume that his/her peer liked all of the dialogue he or she wrote? What if his/her peer had simply meant that the dialogue on the first page or during a certain interaction was good? Because of the ambiguity of these blanketed positive statements, the writer has a hard time applying these positive attributions in any pertinent way. This pattern of blanket positive statements translates well to our work as consultants in the writing center setting. It may be easy to give vague positive feedback, but it only becomes useful to the student-writer when he/she can actually learn how to continually apply it. At last years ECWCA conference, we wanted to show why specific, positive feedback is a critical idea in a writing center setting, and we wanted to arm other consultants with the skills to enact the use of positive feedback by example. It can be easy for consultants to forget that writing is almost like an appendagea deep part of oneself. Sondra Perl, in her article Understanding Composing, expands upon the notion of felt sense--that writing comes from a sort of centered place inside of us (367). If a consultants object is to just hurry up an get to what needs fixing, then he/she is potentially blowing past an important part of the jobthe part of encourager, of showing students that they do have what it takes to be a successful writer and communicator. Rushing through a work and focusing on the need fixing parts, tutors can overlook the interconnected nature of the writer and the writing. Tutors may fail to touch on the specific pieces of the text that need the praise. Nancy Sommers, in her article Responding to Student Writing, also reminds us that, as consultants, one of our main jobs is to become a reader of the paper, and to become a link between the student and the professor. A consultant is not there for evaluation of the text, so we should also let the student know where his or her strengths lie (148). In other words, we should be readers of the texts and not graders. In this role, we have great influence on the writer and the work. Our positive feedback ought not to be a throw away comment like, Oh I really like your idea. A student might reinterpret such a remark to mean, Ok so the overall idea is really great. That means I shouldnt rethink it at all or look at it from a different angle. Instead, a consultant should be very specific. I really like x portion of your idea. You are taking an interesting point of view that the reader might really respond to in x place. This specificity leaves the student writer with the notion that in one place his/her POV is interesting. He/she may then have the thought, this one part was interesting, how do I get my whole paper to have that interest? During our presentation at the ECWCA Conference at Western Michigan University in March 2011, the first thing we did was look at how our research framed our observations. After looking at this research we used practical application; we wanted to show other consultants what this looked like in a real-life setting. Using a twelfth grade AP English paper, we asked the group to see if they could find ways to use positive feedback. Not just as a precursor or a way to ease in to the consultation but attempting to use positive feedback as a way to point out how writers might use what they did in one paper in the future. This demonstration helped other consultants to see exactly what we meant by using specific, positive feedback. In the end the goals of the writing center come down to two things: 1. Enabling students to be successful writers. 2. Instilling confidence that they really do have what it takes to write. In her article Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors, Muriel Harris sums these ideas up quite nicely, Equally important [to students] are tutors who work with them in ways that enable and encourage independent thinking and that help them see how to put their theoretical knowledge into practice as they write. Moreover, [students want] tutorial interaction that helps them, as writers gain confidence in themselves as writers by attending to their affective concerns and assists them


East Central Writing Centers Association

in leaning what academic language about writing means (40). Works Cited Harris, Muriel. Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors. College English Vol. 57, No. 1 (Jan., 1995): 27-42. Print. Perl, Sondra. Understanding Composing. College Composition and Communication Vol. 31, No. 4. (Dec., 1980): 363-369. Print. Sommers, Nancy. Responding to Student Writing. College Composition and Communication Vol. 33, No. 2 (May, 1982): 148-156. Print.

Beyond Improved WritingHow Challenge Helped a Basic Writing Student Learn New Life Skills
Karen Lulich Horwath Central Michigan University
While I agree with the need to be professional and support an instructors classroom pedagogies and written assignments, this past semester I experienced ongoing frustration with the lack of written comments my basic writing student James received from his instructor. Despite my efforts to understand the assignments and clarify them with James, I could not understand why the instructor returned one of James assignments three times with the single comment No credit; does not meet assignment goals scrawled across the top of the page. The assignment was to turn an initial rant draft about a personal issue into a formal persuasive essay. James had written a carefully worded essay to a specific audience asking for a resolution to the problem and discussing his particular justifications for the resolution. He took the paper through three drafts. James was my first weekly consulting appointment, and I was excited to read each new draft because he really did apply the concepts we discussed in our weekly sessions. When the first paper was returned No Credit, James realized that he had turned in the wrong draft. He asked for help organizing his work, so we spent our session going through his assignment folders and flash drive files, deleting, re-naming, labeling, and organizing. When the second paper was returned No Credit, I was worried that I was misunderstanding the assignment. I encouraged him to take the paper and talk to his instructor directly after the next class, which he promised he would do. We spent the full session rereading and discussing the assignment guidelines together, with James making notes about what he wanted to ask his instructor.

The next week, he returned to our session with more confidence. He said I cant write a letter asking for a resolution. I can only persuade there is a problem. I need three paragraphs that describe different aspects of the problem. When I asked James if he had any revision ideas, he said he planned to change his thesis from arguing for the resolution to persuading there was a problem. I like how you changed the angle, I told him. It sounds like you can use some the content you already have if you craft the topic sentences a bit differently. James agreed, and spent the session making hand-written revisions on his previous essay draft. I felt better about our session, especially because James was taking charge of his revisions with enthusiasm. However, he arrived early to our next session fairly upset. Look at what he wrote! he exclaimed. No credit, again! He handed me the paper, and, as we leafed through it, we could see there were no other comments. At this point I was frustrated with the instructor and was even starting to doubt my own abilities as a consultant. Had I been so excited about James revision improvements that I misunderstood something in the assignment guidelines? Why wasnt the instructor providing more written feedback? I said slowly, James, I think you need to request an appointment with your teacher. I dont think I can advise you on this paper until you go through it privately with him during his office hours. He agreed that this was the best thing to do, but was worried: Ive never emailed a professor before. Will you help me write this so it sounds good? During our next session, I asked him how the meeting had gone. He said that his instructor had actually rewritten his thesis so that it met his standards and given him one more week to turn in a final draft. I think the email I sent helped me a lot, he said. I think he gave me extra help because I came to his office hours. Ive never done that before. That was a good idea. He decided to use the session to revise his introduction


Winter 2012
so it could lead more specifically to the new thesis, and then write new topic sentences with clearer focus. At the end of our session, James seemed more relaxed and confident that he was finally going to be able to receive a grade on this assignmentwhich eventually became a B+. While I privately disagreed with this instructors terse commenting philosophy, I believe that our writing center sessions helped James use this challenging experience to learn important life skills for success in college and beyond how to approach an instructor professionally, how to clarify an ongoing issue, how to persevere through a disheartening situation, and how follow-through can lead to success.

Idea/Thought Ownership Vs. Paper Ownership

Sandra R Dent Stark State College
Those tutors, bottle-fed in the profession on the phrase, Be therefore, non-directive may want to revisit this collective philosophy. While the common goal remains to create better writers rather than better papers done with the gentle non-directive hand, times and tutorial practices might be changing. Tutors are, today, faced with clients who have not written an essay in years, if at all, or students who have challenges, non-disclosed or diagnosed. May it be suggested that the word non-directive be replaced or accompanied with flexible and, dare it be said, somewhat dictatorial tutoring methods? This theory in no way suggests tossing out the fact of the ownership of ones paper, created collaboratively with open-ended questions, incorporating ideas and brainstorming methods. These are necessary, hardfought-for tools of every center and need to be under the protective watch of the effective writing associate. Yet, is the practice of non-directive tutoring done on a twenty-four, seven basis? It may be said that a portion of the tutors who want to be able to say they conduct their sessions in the most unobtrusive of manner in actuality belong to the growing group of closet members of the subtle directive tutorial society. Tutors may feel as though they are literally turning their backs on the important theory initially taught in a tutoring writing course; a class whose doctrine might continue to be stubbornly embraced. The techniques, though successful in the academic environment as a student tutor, may not carry over in the professional arena. There are very few occasions that the need for directive behavior rears its head in a peer tutorial setting. The process is dealt with smoothly and effectively, and all is well in the Writing Center world.

The potential might arise when entering professional writing assistant employment where opinions, proper characteristics of tutorials, all previously accepted session philosophies are challenged. Non-directive is still the desired process, yet fear of writing a paper after twenty years may be seen with increased regularity. Beginnings of sessions are spent more with discussion in order to emotionally settle the client rather than to brainstorm a topic. Idea/thought ownership could prove effective in this context as the clients opinions and theories are validated from the beginning of a session. Additional, more structured work could then be collaboratively focused on. Idea/thought ownership would be essential when calming a student after receiving an unwanted grade. The tutor could have the student re-state the original thoughts and ideas that produced, initially, the thesis and focus of the paper. These examples illuminate and expand on the idea of paper ownership to that of idea/thought ownership. The tutor is more hands-on with the set up and mechanics of the paper; however, the ideas and thoughts are always considered the property of the tutee. An example of this tutorial theory put into practice might be as follows . . . A client arrives with an assignment; a paper on a personal experience or an event that shaped his/her life. A discussion ensues regarding professorial comments made on the first draft. Phrases written include, This is not clear consider revising. Im not sure what your thesis is or what youre trying to divulge. Are you sure you want to continue with this subject matter? The client is interpreting these comments as You are unable to write a word that makes sense. Throw in the towel now! The session could begin with re-assuring the student that with revision, the assignment will make sense and the original thoughts and ideas are indeed legitimate and academic. Re-structuring and re-arranging of paragraphs and sentences is all that is necessary. The tutor then focuses on what was considered at one time, the mortal tutorial sin, the invasion of a clients paper ownership. But is it? The original thought of the client is kept in place, made clearer with lower-order concerns (i.e. spelling,


East Central Writing Centers Association

grammar issues and punctuation, provided by the tutor). This is a possible way to use thought/idea ownership rather than focusing so heavily on paper ownership. The purpose is to encourage the client that the ideas initially provided are valid and the mechanics of the paper are important in order to create a clarified flow to the essay. The desired end result of the tutor/tutee relationship is the ability to assist in the development of writing and knowing an appropriately written assignment has been established. The idea/thought may be that ownership is be more involved and time consuming than the paper ownership process, yet arent we, as tutors, still developing better writers than better papers? From what has been presented, there is not much change in cost and scheduling necessary for tutorials, other than more conversation and time. Therefore it seems the change in tutorial philosophy is literally not that much of a change. The individual needs of each student are met; the Writing Center is perceived less threatening and therefore consulted more often; and all continues to be well in the Writing Centers world.

The 2012 Conference Guide: Indianapolis, IN March 30-31st

Although its Superbowl hosting duties will be over by the time the ECWCA Conference begins, there will still be plenty to do in Indianapolis. In preparation for the game, the city has been scrubbed and polished for visitors to enjoy before, during, and after the Superbowl. The 2,012 Trees Before 2012 program planted 2,012 trees around the city before the game in February, and the NFL partnered with the city to spend $154 million to renovate the Near Eastside of Indianapolis, which includes Downtown and the IUPUI campus. One of the most visible parts of these renovation and beautification projects is the 46 for XLVI project which commissioned local artists to paint 46 murals around the city. Many of these murals are within walking distance of the IUPUI campus: Dimensional Shadows by Eduardo Mendieta at 609 Massachusetts Ave. Hoosier Hospitality on the Boatload of Knowledge by Kyle Ragsdale at E. Michigan St. on the Canal Return to Innocence by Cecilia Lueza at E. Ohio St. on the Canal Indiana Avenue Jazz Masters by Pamela Bliss at 322 N. Capitol Ave. My Affair With Kurt Vonnegut by Pamela Bliss at 354 Massachusetts Ave.

Indianapolis also boasts the new Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library at 340 N. Senate Ave, just a few blocks away from the IUPUI campus. The Vonnegut Library is currently celebrating its first anniversary with a series of ongoing events.

Image credits from left to right: Old Trails Terra Cotta Heads, Atelier Teee; Naptime in the Nap, Carl Van Rooy Photography; Indianapolis central Library, Serge Melki


Winter 2012
Admission is free and the library is open 12-5 every day except Wednesday. Also within walking distance of IUPUI is White River State Park, which houses three museums: the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Indiana State Museum, and the NCAA Hall of Champions. During the conference, the State Museum will be presenting a collection of cultural and sports memorabilia from the personal collection of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. Among the items on display will be the scroll of Jack Kerouacs On the Road. Make time to see this exhibit if you can, since Kerouacs scroll is rarely displayed publicly. Theres plenty more to do in Indy during the weekend of the ECWCA Conference. If youre interested in more museums, galleries, theater and sporting events, or Indys renovation and beautification projects for the Superbowl, visit Also visit for a complete list of the 46 for XLVI murals.

Conference Specifics!
Conference Host: Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis Conference Theme: Its the End of the World As We Know It: Negotiating Change in a Writing Center Context Conference Dates: March 30-31, 2012 Conference Website: html Conference Registration: Via conference website Conference Hotel: Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel at Keystone Crossing

Keynote Speaker: Muriel Harris

Muriel Harris grew up in Chicago, Illinois. For her undergraduate work, she attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Her doctoral work was done at Columbia University. In 1976, she started the Writing Lab at Purdue University. According to its website, the lab began as a one-room space with three consultants who worked with Purdue writers at any skill level. Since then, the lab has grown to include multiple locations, individualized services and new technologies. Under Dr. Harris direction, the Purdue Writing Lab has been recognized as an innovative contributor to Writing Center practice in the United States. Especially noteworthy is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), the first of its kind, started in 1993 by Dr. Harris and David Taylor. Dr. Harris has received many awards for teaching and mentoring, including the National Council of Teachers of English Exemplar Award in 2000 and Purdue Universitys Innovation in Helping Students Learn Award in 1986 and again in 2000. She has written numerous articles and several books, including The Prentice Hall Reference Guide and The Writer's FAQs. Today, she is professor emerita of English, and the founder and current editor of the Writing Lab Newsletter. She lives in West Lafayette with her husband, Samuel Harris. Both retired, they travel often to visit their children and grandchildren. stand up in front of a room full of people and sharing your research, experience, and most thoughts related to your presentation topic. Backups are essential Technical glitches dont always happen because we make a mistake; magical gremlins that twist and pull the inner workings of flash drives, CDs, and external hard drives really do exist, and they can throw a wrench in things. Whether you believe in the gremlins or not, always have a backup of your presentation. Trust our prior (gremliny!) experience.

Making the Most Out of the End of the World

(aka preparing for the conference) By Honnor Orlando & Frank Smith If the Maya were right, this may be the only and/or last conference you have the opportunity to attend (we hope not), and we want you to make the most of the 2012 ECWCA conference! If youre presenting at a conference for the 1st, 15th, or 50th time, keep in mind some helpful tips for preparing to


East Central Writing Centers Association

Practice x 3 We sound like nagging parents, but charm, flexibility, and suave suits are NOT an effective substitute for preparedness. The most important reasons to practice are to ensure that you can comfortably fit all that you (and your co-presenters) want to cover in the time youve been allotted and to avoid stealing time from the presenters following you. Yes, we said steal. However, a less accusatory motivation is that, just as all writers benefit from reflection and another set of eyes, all presenters benefit from practicing what theyre going to say and answering potential questions aloud (not just in your head!) and in advance. And that leads us to Get by with a little help from your friends You may completely understand what youre planning to cover in your presentation, but will your peers? Practice your presentation in front of peers in your field who doesnt necessarily have the same research focus as you. If something you plan to say is unclear to them, odds are that itll be unclear to conference attendees. Envisioning underwear? Most presenters have strategies for dealing with a room full of people anxiously awaiting sagacious sharing. Some strategies include the classic imagine theyre all in their underwear! trick, picking a friendly face to focus on, and looking just above everyones eyes to determine how many people in the room have a unibrow. However you choose to keep your cool in the spotlight, remember that the rest of the people in the room are just like you, and if they were in your shoes, theyd be nervous, too. Relax. Enjoy the great opportunity to share that giving a presentation really is. And dont forget to practice. J Even if you are not presenting at the conference, you should remember that there are things you should do to prepare that will ensure you get as much out the conference experience as you can. Plan ahead Be sure to review the program and plan which presentations youll go to. Choose presentations that are interesting and challenging! Try to avoid choosing sessions on topics you already know well. Are there sessions on topics you struggle with? Are there speakers you want to meet? Be a little self-centered Your parents taught you to think of others first (we hope!), but a conference is an opportunity to explore areas of growth that youre particularly interested in, and each session is only given one time. So spend time with your colleagues and friends during lunch and breaks if you want to, but make sure that the sessions you attend are on topics youre interested in. Dont miss the sessions you want to attend just because your colleagues are attending something else. Be punctual Get to the conference early so you can get a general familiarity with the facilities and wont waste time between sessions searching for presentation locations later in the day. If youre late to a presentation, you may not only miss part of the presentation, but you may also not get a seat! Come prepared to "class" Like classes, conference sessions are learning opportunities! Come prepared with a folder, notebook, and pens/pencils for taking notes. Take your notes back to the mothership and share interesting ideas with your own writing center. Meet others Try not to talk only with the people you come with. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet other Writing Center professionals. After a session, start a conversation with someone from a different institution who asked an interesting question or sit with people you do not know for lunch. If you have business cards, bring them to exchange with others; maybe you can continue the communication beyond the conference and make useful connections for the future. Plan free time If you will be staying in Indy for the conference, do some research about what else you'd like to see/do while you are here. Start by reading Morgan's tips in this newsletter! Finally Have a good time. The end of the world CAN be fun!


Winter 2012

Tutor Voices
Kathryn Phelan
-Grand Valley State University In a writing center bustling with tutors who emanate professionalism in pressed pants and sweater vests, I consider myself an anomaly. My work as a tutor complements my role as a four-year athlete on the rowing team, which means I approach things a little differently. Like wardrobe. I rarely break from running tights and sweatshirts, and sometimes I still have river water dripping from my hair when I jog in for a consultation. Its not attractive. Other tutors sip coffee; I chug Gatorade. Initially I felt a bit removed from the writing center culture, but Ive come to learn that an athletic background can act if approached correctly as more an advantage than a stumbling block. This realization did not come quickly or gracefully (though I suppose no worthwhile victory ever does). I credit the momentum shift to a morning in the center with a student named Michael, a competitive swimmer. He presented an essay on how it feels to race 100 meters, but the story felt flat. We set the paper aside. Tell me about racing, I said, and his eyes lit up and we spent the better part of ten minutes reliving the last ten strokes of a race, the charge in the air, the threshold at which legs lose the capacity to support their counterpart. Michael formatted the second draft of his essay with declining meters in a column on the left, and the corresponding thoughts that flood his mind during a race in a column on the right. This is fun, he said, baffled. At that moment I realized that good writing is not always science, just as sport is more than the sum of firing muscle synapses. And the emotion beyond the science is what interests me. Not all students feel passionate about writing, but they dont have to as long as they are passionate about what theyre writing, or how theyre writing it. Michaels enthusiasm continued to resonate with me. As a result, I now aim to excavate passion in other students, even about topics with which I am not familiar, and implement it into their writing processes. A graphic design student might find a way to utilize font or format to enhance meaning. An ornithologist might subtly tell a love story by reporting mating behaviors in birds. A theatre student might break her Spanish essay into vignettes. Although I recognize that academic writing is not always an appropriate outlet for penchants, I also find that students seem more engaged, more enthusiastic, and produce better writing when they break from the theory that their essays must contain five paragraphs of boring rhetoric. Athletics bolstered in me the acute understanding that we must find what drives us, if we are to succeed. Some days these students wont want to write, like I wont want to sit on an ergometer and grind out 6,000 meters. But we sit down and find a way to make it palatable. We unlock a spurt of confidence and we run with it. We are writers, tutors, athletes, artists, scientists, or historians. But if we can find passion in what we do, then were all speaking the same language.

Amanda M. May
-Graduate Assistant, Central Michigan University Writing Center As the assistant online coordinator at The Central Michigan University Writing Center, I find myself having relatively few face-to-face sessions in comparison with my fellow writing consultants (in an average week, I may see three or four students). In the rare event that I work with students face-to-face, I am astounded that even after four years of being a writing center employee, I almost always learn something. On one average afternoon, I happened to have a not-so-average session that significantly changed my understanding of consulting. I was working with an ESL graduate student who brought a full draft of her research paper for a business course, which is not uncommon for me. Since this particular student was a non-native speaker, I asked her whether or not she was comfortable reading the paper aloud. She responded that she was, and when I asked her what she wanted to focus on, she replied that she wanted some help with her clarity, grammar, and APA citations. As she began reading the paper from the computer screen, I followed along, politely pointing out some things I thought could be improved. There was the occasional subject/verb disagreement, the missing comma between the author and year, the sentence that just didnt quite sound right she and I talked through


East Central Writing Centers Association

all of these surface issues to the point where I didnt even need to continue pointing out the punctuation inside the citations. She simply started fixing them herself as she read, something that made me giddy because I felt like the student had acquired a piece of knowledge that she could take with her and use in future papers. However, this particular session also posed a unique problem. As she had requested, I also paid close attention to her grammar, particularly commas, which were missing from some compound sentences. I explained the grammatical issue, saying something like, When we join two sentences in English with and, we need to put a comma before the and. She would then proceed to place the comma, but not where I had indicated. No instead, she placed it after the conjunction. The first time this happened, I thought this was simply a misunderstanding, politely corrected her, and moved on. I remained patient every time she placed the comma after the conjunction, gently reminding her that it needed to go before the conjunction and pointing to the spot on the screen or saying, Other side. And because the issue recurred, I started thinking about it. What wasnt I communicating to this student? Just where was the gap in understanding between what I was saying and what she was doing? The matter ate away at me for twenty full minutes of the session. As she placed the cursor after the coordinating conjunction again, I paused as a possible reason leapt into my head. Wait a minute, I said, looking at the student. Whats your native language? She responded, Arabic. Oh, I see. Then, after another moment, I asked, Do you write from right to left in Arabic? Yes. There it was. As a native speaker of English who has no experience with languages that read from right to left, I was not aware that what I was telling her to do was misleading. For a native speaker of Arabic, before would indicate a placement to the right of a word, whereas in English, before is seen as being to the left of a word. I explained all of this to the student with an apology, and between the two of us, we had a pretty good laugh about it. When we got back to business, I consciously altered my diction, reminding her that the comma went to the right of one word rather than before another. In the same way that student walked away with enhanced knowledge about APA and English grammar, I walked away with a piece of knowledge about a language Ive never studied. It just goes to show that even for consultants, the writing center is an excellent learning environment.

Hollie McDonald
- Grand Valley State University (Fredrick Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors) I began my consulting career in the fall semester of 2010. I consulted all of the 2010-2011 academic year, and upon returning this school year, I stepped into the position of lead writing consultant. I am a triple major; English Literature, History and Writing Being a writing consultant has helped me both academically and professionally. I am constantly being challenged to work with peers from different socioeconomic backgrounds; an experience I may not have been graced with had I not been hired at the writing center. I learn, on a daily basis, how to interact with students that are younger than myself, the same age, older, different majors, etc. However, working at the writing center has also helped me relate better to my own professors. Through helping students understand their professors/assignments, I now have a better understanding of what is expected of me as a student. A new level of professionalism is added to my academic and working life. Although I love everyday as a writing center tutor, I distinctly remember my first day and remember that I had helped a fellow student. I had been brainstorming paper topics and organization of ideas with a student who professed to hate writing. I worked with him for a total of maybe ten minutes. As he was leaving class, he came up to me and thanked me for my help, saying that he now knew where he wanted to take his paper and ideas. It meant a lot to me and it was then I truly started understanding the impact I had on students lives. It was a great way to start my career as a consultant. I strive, with every student I work with, to be dedicated and focused on them, so as to fully respect the position in which I have been placed. A tip I would tell other consultants/tutors is to love your job. If you arent passionate, if you dont love it, students will recognize that. As soon as you lose passion for what we do, you are doing a disservice to yourself, other students and the university. Be passionate and engaged, as that is the key to success, not only here, but everywhere. What do I wish I would have known sooner?


Winter 2012
I wish I had known that it is okay to make mistakes and to ask for help. My co-workers are all brilliant people, and I have immense respect for all of them. They are such mines of information because they all come from different backgrounds. If we need help, we can collaborate with one another, giving students better help and making our own jobs easier. Being a consultant has taught me to ask questions, has better prepared me for collaborative projects, has expanded my own knowledge base and so much more. I wasnt a writing major until I began working at the writing center; it helped me find a new passion and professional ambition. making this job not only easy, but a pleasure to do. You can be professional and have fun at the same time, and I think that's something that will be good to remember in my jobs in the future. I can only hope they'll be half as awesome as this one.

Laura McLaughlin
- Wittenberg University Three and a half of my four years at Wittenberg University were spent either as a trainee or advisor in the Writing Center. Though the Center itself became my home away from home, the lessons learned there have shaped me both academically and personally. As a writer, I have learned to approach every paper with fresh eyes. I suppose witnessing others transform their papers made me a loyal adherent to the Church of Revision. And, from my fondest tutoring memories those elbow-to-elbow all-hands-on-deck conversations with studentsI have learned values profoundly useful in each of lifes arenas: avoid assumptions, rely on subtle signals, keep the mind and heart open, and abandon the fear of silence, as soundless moments can lead to bright epiphanies and sparks of growth. Though my sessions with students have not always been filled with openness and mutually rewarding collaboration, there is one recurring theme Ive found amongst the most successful tutorials: trust. To build this solid foundation, I believe tutors must be willing to adapt sensitively to students, for each student is unique and comes bearing her own off-the-page narrative. Effective peer tutoring breaks barriers of insecurity, discomfort, and fear, by capitalizing on intelligent flexibility, on a delicate compound of courage and vulnerability. When we as tutors are willing to listen carefully and share thoughtfully, I believe we will find ourselves to be dynamic teachers and learners. I see the Writing Center as a space of possibility, a space where ideas are not merely refined, but inspired and nurtured. As tutors, we have the opportunity to expand personally and discover our own voices as we work to empower the voices, written and spoken, of others.

Marie Orttenburger
- Grand Valley State University - Double major in English and Writing with a minor in French. Being a writing tutor has made me much more sociable, and has vastly improved my ability to communicate with people clearly. Additionally, it has made me privy to body language and other indicators of how a student or other interlocutor perceives me or understands what I'm saying. One high point during my time as a tutor was at the end of one semester. One of the professors whose WRT 150 class I worked with during lab time complimented me on my work with the students, and some of the students who were around towards the end of the period also expressed their gratitude. I love this job so much that I'd do it without thanks, but it's always nice to know that you've been genuinely helpful. Some Advice Id give other tutors/consultants is to know that improving in this job is a process and happens continually during your time as a consultant. There is always something you can learn, and you will always get better. All of the articles and exercises we did in training are infinitely useful and helpful, but they're not there to tell you how to conduct a consultation. You just have to do what the situation calls for and use those exercises and articles as references for situations that call for them. What skills have I acquired, from being a tutor that I will take with me throughout life? Communication, definitely. But I think one of the greatest parts of this job is that I think all of my co-workers are great, and they are the nicest people I've ever met. Each of them is so friendly, and I think that really helps in

Devoni Murphy

Wittenberg University. Q. How long have you been a tutor/consultant? A. This is my second year as an advisor. Q. What is your major?


East Central Writing Centers Association

A. I am an English major. Q. How has being a writing advisor helped you in your interactions with peers, either academically or professionally? A. Being an advisor has helped me understand how to recognize peoples individual skill sets and find a way for those skills to work together. In a session, the writer and the advisor each bring something different to the table, and part of the advisors job is to find a way to showcase the writers skills while offering guidance based on her own experience. Those skills transfer to other working relationships, too. No matter the task, it is important to remember that everyone has something to offer, and finding a way to combine each persons knowledge and talent will yield the best result. Q. When you think back on your time as a writing center advisor, can you describe a high point? A. One of the reasons I enjoy this job so much is that there are so many great feelings that come with it. I have had several successful sessions in my time as an advisor, but the thrill that comes with knowing that I have helped a writer is the same every time. I can remember one session in particular that was especially successful for the writer and, therefore, was successful for me as well. The writer came into the Center frazzled and frustrated. She was working on two different essay responses, and she had drafted an introduction paragraph for each essay. She didnt feel that they were solid paragraphsshe wanted to rework them so that they would help point her as a writer in the direction she needed to go, and she also wanted to make sure her readers could follow her thinking. In short, she wanted to make each introduction more relevant to what she was going to discuss in the rest of her essays. She felt that she couldnt move on until she had her opening thoughts straight, but she told me that she wasnt exactly sure how to write an introduction. I explained that one way to think of an introduction paragraph is like an upside down triangle: the beginning should contain broad (but relevant) ideas, and the ideas should become narrower as the paragraph continues, leading to her thesis. She seemed to respond to this explanation, so the two of us worked through each introduction together, keeping the suggested shape in mind. When we finished, she had a solid, relevant introduction paragraph for each of her essays, and she expressed her relief. It felt good to see that I had helped her, and I felt confident that I had helped her practice a method she could apply to her writing in the future. So, in my eyes, that was a truly successful session and a high point of my time as an advisor. Q. What advice might you give other advisors? A. Begin your sessions by talking to the writer about her writing process. Dont simply jump into the piece and assume that everyones writing process is the same. Ask questions. Find out how your writer writes. Does she have to begin at the beginning, or does she start with the conclusion and work backwards? Does she write the piece in its entirety and then revise or revise paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence? These things are so important to know. If the advisor has an understanding of the writers unique process, then she has a better chance of offering advice that will make practical sense to the writeradvice that the writer can use in her future writing endeavors. Q. What do you wish you would have known sooner? A. I wish I would have known how difficult it would be to refrain from doing all the talking with a reluctant writer. If a writer comes to the Center because a professor has made it a requirement of the assignment, or even if she is there of her own volition but doesnt truly want the services we offer, the advisor can ask all the questions she wants, but a reluctant writer can always find a short answer or a way to turn the question back to the advisor. I wish I would have known from day one how to avoid falling into this trap of doing all the talking. Q. What skills have you acquired, from being an advisor, which you will take with you throughout life? A. The single most important skill Ive acquired as a result of this experience is the ability to communicate with just about anyone. Communication is such a large part of our lives, and it is important to know how to adapt to and interpret different communication styles when working with someone who has different skills, beliefs, and life experiences. Working in the Writing Center has helped me learn how to do just that, and good communication skills will be useful to me for the rest of my life, no matter what I do.

Did you enjoy reading these Tutor Voices? Have something youd like to share? Contribute your Tutor Voice by sending us something of interest to you, your center, or the larger region. Submissions can be emailed to See Call for Engagement at the end of this newsletter for more details.


Winter 2012

Tutor Tips
Gail Jacky, Director 815-753-6636 Northern Illinois University Writing Center Stevenson South, DeKalb, IL

Training Assignments
Beginning of Semester Self-evaluation: As you consider the coming semester, what do you think will be your greatest strength? What will be your greatest challenge? Why? Set two goals and describe the strategies you will use to accomplish them (e.g. Learn more about working with English Language Learners.) What skills do you have that will contribute to enhancing our services? Mid-semester Self-evaluation: Think about your consulting sessions and address the following ideas: What strengths are you bringing to consulting sessions? What are your concerns about the sessions? What concerns do you think clients bring to the sessions? How do they express said concerns? How do you respond accordingly? For a session that went well, what made the outcome satisfying? For a session that was unsatisfying, what made it less successful? o How did you handle the situation? o What were other ways to handle the situation? Assignment 1: Who are you? List all personal, social, and professional groups to which you belong. List adjectives that describe you. How might the information above impact your tutoring? Assignment 2: Writing Process. This is a two-part assignment investigating your personal writing process. Part 1- Creative (do this first) Using any or a combination of the following techniques: drawing, cutting, pasting, painting, etc., recreate your personal writing process for completing a course assignment. Think carefully about the processes you use, not the strategies other sources prescribe. You will be asked to explain, not justify, the visual images you create. Do not use writing! Show us instead.

Part 2 - Written (do this second) In no more than two pages, write out your process for completing a written assignment for a course. Be specific in details for your readers. Style of presentation is open: traditional essay format, bulleted list with paragraphs to transition the concepts, metaphor, poem, letter, song, etc.


East Central Writing Centers Association

Phone Conferencing: An alternative to online tutoring

Northwestern Michigan College is a community college serving the residents of Northern Michigan. Much like most schools - especially community colleges - we've experienced a period of intense growth. Our population has seen an increase in diversity, especially among non-traditional students who have several other commitments in their lives that make attending school difficult. The primary result of this shifting dynamic is that more students require distance assistance. Our previous model of email conferencing was becoming cumbersome and ineffective. As we researched alternatives, we quickly realized many of our students were not technologically able (either in skills or availability) to utilize such programs as Skype or Google Docs. One day a Reader asked, "Why don't we just call them?" With this simple solution, we've begun offering phone assistance to our students with great success. Phone Conferencing: Students submit a form online, and attach their documents. We verify a time that works for both our hours and the student's availability. Each Reader gets 30 minutes before the conference to review the paper. We call and discuss for 30 minutes the writing and give our suggestions. Benefits: The phone set-up controls how directive readers are and at what levels suggestions can be made. It is hard to concentrate exclusively on lower order concerns when the conference is via the phone. This has been a nice limitation. There have been fewer misunderstandings because we are still talking, versus emailing. An active and robust dialogue occurs, where students can ask additional questions and give feedback throughout the process. Considerations: This method requires an area where phone conferencing can take place that is relatively private and/or quiet. We are lucky to have an extra room available for these conferences. We have found that students think they can get immediate assistance through phone conferencing. Much like other services the Writing Center offers, we've had to educate students on planning ahead and leaving themselves sufficient time. Northwestern Michigan College Megan Ward, Director Phone: 231-995-1186 Email:


Winter 2012

ECWCA Call for Board Nominations: Three-Year At-Large Member Deadline: February 24th
We have one open at-large position this year for a three-year term. To qualify, board members must be involved with writing center work within the ECWCA region, and may be writing center directors, professional staff members, or student staff members. Each board member is expected to commit a significant amount of time to share in the following responsibilities: Assisting the conference host in planning the annual ECWCA conference. Attending the Board meeting at the annual conference, as well as possibly a summer retreat. Taking part in committee work, such as developing procedures and creating documents. Participating in online discussion and decision-making between face-to-face meetings of the Board. Reporting to the ECWCA membership at the annual conference and communicating with the membership at other times as needed. Determining the disbursal of the treasury in support of research and scholarship related to writing centers.

Eligible candidates may nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else. Nominations will be accepted by email through February 24, 2012. If you are interested in nominating someone or yourself, please download the nomination form from the website, complete it, and send it to Megan Ward ( Please limit your biographical information and statement of service to no more than 250 words. Once submitted, nominees information will be posted on the ECWCA website, so members can familiarize themselves with nominees experience prior to voting. See the ECWCA website ( for more information and the nomination form. I'd be happy answer any questions you have about the process. Best, Megan

ECWCA Conference Travel Awards Deadline: March 1st

ECWCA is pleased to announce that it will offer a select number of travel awards. The awards will be given to presenters at the 2012 ECWCA Conference who are from institutions in the region that have not previously presented at the conference or have not presented in three or more years. Please let us know if your institution is new to the ECWCA conference or has not attended the conference in the last 5 years. Travel awards scholarships cover only registration fees and are limited in number. To apply please send the following to Trixie Smith at<>: Name Institution Email address Presentation title For more information contact Trixie Smith Phone: 517.432.7950 Email:


East Central Writing Centers Association

ECWCA Call for Nominations: Outstanding Tutor of the Year Award & ECWCA Tutor Leadership Award Deadline: February 29th
Each year the East Central Writing Center Association (ECWCA) acknowledges the outstanding service provided by tutor/consultants throughout the region. Designed to celebrate the contributions of undergraduate-student, graduatestudent, and staff writing center tutors, these awards serve not only to publicly acknowledge deserving tutor/consultants, but also to support and sustain the important work of writing centers for campuses and larger communities for another generation. Two awards, one in each category explained below, are presented each year. Award Categories: 1. Outstanding Tutor of the Year Award This award recognizes innovative approaches to tutoring/consulting, the quality of work with writers, and the articulation of a tutoring/consulting philosophy. While any member of the writing center staff who tutors may be nominated for the Outstanding Tutor of the Year award, it is generally given to those who hold tutoring positions. 2. Tutor Leadership Award This award recognizes the leadership contributions of undergraduate-student, graduate-student, and staff writing center tutors, including but not limited to administrative work, development of new programs, writing center training innovations, presentation of writing center work in academic and non-academic forums, work with special populations, and creativity. While any tutor may be nominated for the Tutor Leadership Award, it is generally given to tutors who hold positions of leadership in their writing centers: for instance, assistants to the director, assistant directors, and graduate students are the most likely candidates for this award. Awards: $200 Cash Award Award Certificate Guidelines for Nominators: Individual institutions are welcome to nominate multiple writing consultants for both awards; however, each tutor/consultant should only be nominated for one award per year. Award recipients are ineligible for the same award in the following year. Nominators must include the following three documents (rtf or pdf): 1. A short cover letter written by the nominee for identification purposes only (on letterhead, if electronic letterhead is available) that: identifies her/himself names the category for which she or he is being nominated, provides the nominees address and/or e-mail and phone numbers, identifies the nominees institution, provides the name and contact information for the faculty/administrator/colleague sponsoring the nomination.

(Note: This cover letter will be separated from the other two documents during the review process to ensure blind review.)


Winter 2012
2. A personal statement written by the nominee. To ensure a blind review, the nominee should use plain paper (not letterhead) and avoid mentioning an institution. Provide first name and last initial as a means of identification, instead. a. b. For the Outstanding Tutor of the Year Award, the personal statement should describe a clear philosophy of tutoring/consulting, exemplified through narratives about one or two significant tutoring/consulting sessions. For the Tutor Leadership Award, the personal statement should delineate the activities that demonstrate the nominees leadership in the writing center.

3. A letter of support for the nominee from the sponsoring faculty/administrator/colleague. This letter should make clear whether the nomination is for the Outstanding Tutor of the Year Award or the Tutor Leadership Award; for the purpose of anonymity, be written on plain paper (not letterhead); avoid reference to the nominees institution; refer to the nominee by first name and last initial; and be written anonymously.

Submission Deadline: February 29, 2012, midnight Submission Procedure: The nominating person should attach the above three forms in an email to Trixie Smith, Awards Committee Chair, Review full call online at including the judging criteria. For other questions, contact Trixie at the email above. Thank you for nominating your tutors! By nominating your tutors, you help to support, recognize, and celebrate the important work that they do every day!

ECWCA Call for Student Editors Deadline: February 26th

The East Central Writing Centers Association is pleased to announce the call for two non-paying ECWCA Newsletter editor positions.* Both positions are one-year positions that begin immediately following the annual ECWCA conference and conclude at the end of the next annual ECWCA conference. Both positions are competitive. Potential candidates should submit an application and indicate the position for which s/he is applying. All applicants should submit the following: 1) 2) 3) 4) A cover letter indicating the desired editor position, discussion of applicant strengths, and a brief discussion of how this position will benefit the applicants future career goals. A rsum with relevant work experience and college coursework. A 250 400 word statement detailing your experience in a writing center and your developing tutor philosophy. One letter of recommendation, to be sent separately, by someone capable of speaking to your writing center work and potential success in the editor position for which you are applying.

Applications should be received no later than February 26th. Depending on the level of demonstrated interest, selected applicants may be asked to participate in a brief phone interview. The two successful applicants will be notified via email and announced at the annual ECWCA conference. Position #1 ECWCA Newsletter Associate Editor: The Associate Editor will coordinate with the Editor in the


East Central Writing Centers Association

planning, production and administration of the newsletter. S/he will have the following responsibilities: - - - - - Gather newsletter submissions for review. Conceptualize newsletter themes and direction. Copyedit final newsletter. Establish and maintain e-mail correspondences with potential and current newsletter authors. Other relevant responsibilities.

Position #2 ECWCA Newsletter Assistant Editor: The Assistant Editor will coordinate with the Editor and Associate Editor in the planning, production, and administration of the newsletter. S/he will have the following responsibilities: - - - Oversee and direct the Tutor Voice section of the newsletter (An outlet space for tutors to discuss tutorto-tutor relevant issues). Solicit and maintain Tutor Voice submissions. Collaborate with the Editor and Associate Editor on additional tasks.

* Newsletter positions are not ECWCA Board positions and, as such, are not selected through an election process. Newsletter positions are announced and selected by the ECWCA Newsletter Editor. All application materials should be submitted via email by February 26, 2012 to: Anthony Garrison

ECWCA Call for Conference Hosts

The ECWCA Board is now looking for hosts for the 2013 East Central Writing Center Association Conference. Traditionally, the ECWCA Conference is held over two consecutive days typically a Friday and Saturday during March or early April. The conference attracts about 200-300 writing center tutors and administrators from the region. The board works closely with the conference hosts throughout the entire process. Most hosts are able to fund the conference with seed money from the board and from conference registrations; hosts do not need to fund the conference from their own coffers. Schools that are in the same city or nearby can also apply to be co-hosts to split the responsibilities. If you are even the slightest bit curious or just would like more information about hosting, please contact me at ( I can provide you with details, encouragement, our application, and our very helpful conference planning guide. Below are some testimonials from past conference hosts on the benefits of hosting: Hosting ECWCA was a fantastic professional development opportunity for both me and my tutors. We worked together as a team to shape the call for proposals, develop the program, and plan activities. My tutors were especially excited to not only show off their campus but to welcome other tutors. I feel as if I've gotten to know the membership in an intimate way. --Tammy Conard-Salvo, Host, 2009 ECWCA Conference, Purdue University Hosting the ECWCA conference was essential to the local campus community seeing and understanding writing centers as a field, appreciating the possibilities that the local writing center could afford them. I have no doubt that the WCD who followed me into that position started from a much more stable place than I did because of the conference.


Winter 2012
For the Writing Center staff, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet and hear the leaders in the field whose work they had been reading in training. Personally, the conference gave me opportunities to build strong working relationships with colleagues from other institutions, relationships that are enabling significant scholarship and research even now, more than three years later. --Bill Macauley, Co-Host, 2006 ECWCA Conference, Mount Union College I would say that the biggest perk of having the conference at Marietta was the opportunity to expose my tutors to professional development in the writing center community. They all had the ability to participate in the conference and attend sessions, and it enabled them to view their work in the writing center as something larger than a work-study position -- at the end of the conference they really felt like a part of an academic community. --Tim Catalano, Host, 2003 ECWCA Conference, Marietta College For me, the benefits of hosting the ECWCA conference at Kent-Stark were direct and profound. As a relatively new writing center director, in my second year at Stark, it was an opportunity to form professional relationships with a number of KSU deans, academic departments, fellow faculty members, and staff members, not only on my campus but across the entire eight-campus system. Beyond my university, the conference offered an opportunity to work closely with the Executive Board of ECWCA and to network with fellow writing center directors throughout the seven-state ECWCA region. Hosting this conference is an invaluable form of professional development. It will greatly increase the visibility and impact of both you and your writing center. --Jay Sloan, Host, 2002 ECWCA Conference, Kent State University-Stark Campus After attending ECWCA for so many years, hosting the conference felt like an opportunity to give back to the organization. It also brought a lot of professional recognition to our Writing Center at Lansing Community College, both from outside the college, and perhaps more importantly, from within. I would encourage other community colleges to host this conference. --Jill Reglin, Host, 2000 ECWCA Conference, Lansing Community College Cheers, Jackie (ECWCA President)

Save the Date!! CFP Coming Soon!!!

The Northeast Ohio Writing Centers Association 6th Annual Conference Youngstown State University, Youngstown Ohio Saturday, October 13, 2012 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Contact NEOWCA Conference Chair Angela Messenger at or Jay Sloan at or Jeanne Smith at for more information.


East Central Writing Centers Association

Winter 2012

Call for Engagement!

Submit content to ECWCA and keep the conversations going. There are many ways to contribute and be heard. ECWCA is a semiannual publication designed to open and extend conversations between people invested in writing center work in our geographic region. Tutors, directors, assistant directors, administrators, tutees, and more are encouraged to engage in the dialogue. Below are just some of the ways you might consider contributing. We look forward to hearing from you all and advancing the work we do.

Topics: Issues relevant to writing center work. Length: 1000-2500 words. Style: APA or MLA.

Tutor Voices
Topics: Opinion pieces/reflection pieces relevant to you and your writing center work. Length: 500-750 words.

Regional Announcements Tutor Achievements Director Achievements Calls for Conversation Resources Photographs And More!

Center Profiles
Topics: Issues relevant to the operations of your writing center. Can include details about your center and highlight individuals, projects, or other information. Length: Varies.

Send submissions and inquiries to Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis. Newsletter issues are released in September/October and January/February.

The deadline for the next newsletter is August 15th.

ECWCA is a newsletter published for the benefit of its members. Reproduction of its contents is permissible only for use by those writing center professionals in our geographic region. All other reproduction requests should be made via e-mail at

The Writing Lab Newsletter

The Writing Lab Newsletter (WLN) is a bi-monthly publication (September to June) for those who work in the tutorial setting of writing labs or centers (or in writing centers within learning centers). Articles focus on writing center theory, administration, and pedagogy. The website,, contains an open archive of past volumes. Call for Papers: WLN invites articles, reviews of books relevant to writing centers, and revisions of papers presented at regional conferences. We also regularly include a Tutors' Column with essays by and for tutors. Recommended maximum length is 3000 words or less (including the Works Cited) for articles and 1500 words or less for the Tutors' Column. Please use MLA format. All submissions are peer reviewed. Send your manuscripts as attachments via e-mail to For editorial questions, contact Muriel Harris (, editor, or Michael Mattison ( or Janet Auten (, associate editors. Subscriptions to WLN are U.S.$25 per year for subscriptions mailed in the U.S. and U.S.$30 for subscriptions mailed to Canada. International and digital subscriptions are also available by contacting Please order WLN through our Web site: <>.