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TYCA-West

I've been attending the annual TYCA-West at Clarkdale, Arizona campus of Yavapai College. Yesterday I attended various sessions on assessment of composition classes. The first one focussed on retention of students and the reasons why students drop. I shall be exploring the findings more later, I think. I also attended a session on student anxiety with the same course. I am particularly interested in this because we in the writing center world seem particularly obsessed with student comfort and their has been a great deal of scholarly work on the implications of being "comfortable" in the center.

To be succint, the WC discussion centers around whether or not it is the writing centers place to make students comfortable, particularly since learning can be an uncomfortable thing. I won't be writing on that issue further today, as I am currently in a session on RSS, and it seems quite rude to be writing this and listening to the presenter.

More later, plus pictures!

Service Learning in the Writing Center

My colleagues Tiffany Rousculp, Melissa Helquist and I have been working on a new writing-center related course here at SLCC--English 1810:  Writing Center Theory and Practice.  We struggled for some time with the name of the course, given that we wanted to emphasize the notion of pedagogy and that tutoring work is not only a great lead-in to a teaching carreer, but also is a different way to work with students.  The influence that one-to-one writing center work can have on instructors is profound.  Just the other day, a colleague asked it if would be possible to have adjunct faculty take our Student Writing Center education program (aka training) and to work as consultants in the Center.  Although our budget wouldn't allow for that, it is an intriguing idea.  I can see that it would have positive influence on the teaching of adjunct faculty.

In any case, the biggest difference in 1810 and our regular staff education program is that the students enrolled in it will not be employed …

Safety first!

Just wrote a long post over on PeerCentered about safety and the writing center and share governance:
I've been reading Mike Mattison's new book Centered: A Year in the Life of a Writing Center Director (available from www.lulu.com) and came across the following passage:

"My first year here [Boise State], we had a student come in, demand for us to read a paper, and then say "I'll shoot someone" if it doesn't happen. Incredibly poor choice of words, and the student was immediately brought before the conduct officer (fortunately, the conduct officer and I knew one another from a committee, so we had a good rapport). The student wrote letters of apology to the consultants and was also barred from the Center. (25)"

Perhaps it is because of Phil's post below about mental illness and the writing centers or just the mayhem generally busy-ness of our writing center here at SLCC, but I've been thinking a lot about writing center safety of late.

Like mo…

"Someone to Watch Over Me"

Given that the new SLCC Student Writing Center(SWC) Peer Writing Advisors have been attending staff education classes for about a month now; have completed their observations and tag-team tutoring; and have started to work on their own with student writers; it has come the time when I stick my big nose into their tutoring reports for assessment purposes.  Ok, I'm casting this "intrusion" rather negatively, but that is simply to flip the notion around on you and explain why this is not intrusion but instruction.

We have a handy-dandy online reporting system here that allows writing advisors to not only collect data about student writers, but also to reflect upon the sessions they conduct.  To me that is the most important element in the report system.  Writing advisors have the opportunity to reflect on their work and to improve upon it.  It is so much ingrained in my notion of writing center work, in fact, that I kind of get the willies when I think about a writing center…

Alternative assessment

I am helping to conduct a workshop for the upcoming International Writing Centers Association Conference in Las Vegas (woo hoo!) along with WC megastars Jill Pennington and Neal Lerner. While we haven't worked out the session completely yet, I'd really like to pursue alternative assessment models/methods. I'm thinking of methods such as recorded exit interviews, focus groups, recorded discussions with students etc. I've done quite a lot of this assessment over the past few years with peer tutors in particular, and I would like to expand it to talking with student writers. Basically it would allow the student writer to speak out on her writing center work, and provide our writing center with valuable feedback. The questions I would ask them, of course, would have a purpose in mind.

As I have started to think about this, however, I begin to wonder if this is really assessment at all. I suppose I am informally coding the responses when I analyze them and put them to…

TYCA Secretary

So as I mentioned in my last post, I threw my hat in the ring for TYCA (Two-Year Colleague Association of the National Council of Teachers of English) Secretary. I was honored to actually win the election, even though I know my colleague Jeffrey Andelora of Mesa Community College would have been a fine selection as well. I know I will probably take guff on the matter, but I actually voted for Jeffrey. Now that is not because I don't believe in myself, but simply because it seems extremely self-centered to vote for oneself in any election, and abstaining isn't much better unless you know, for certain, that the other candidate would be harmful to the job. Jeffrey has some great ideas for the job, and has, in fact, inspired me to think about other things I could be doing as TYCA Secretary, by working on recruitment etc.

Ultimately, I want to "leverage" my position as TYCA Secretary to bring to the fore writing center issues, and to make more contact with writing ce…

Prescient?

Well the summer certain was interesting. Not only did I find out I was elected as TYCA National Secretary, but the building the SLCC Student Writing Center was subject to a reverse flood. In other words, the roof leaked. A leaky roof, however, sounds rather benign, like throwing now a few pans to catch errant drips. The flood we suffered, however, was more like the house in movie version of Fight Club.

Suffice it to say, I was rather busy with physical things to post any update here. Talk about an Undersea World! Perhaps I am prescient?

I'll write more about the TYCA job later.

IWCA Summer Institute Special Webcast

The IWCA Summer Institute (an annual gathering of writing center professionals from around the world which focuses on writing centers and writing center development) will conduct a live webcast this year:



How Did We Get Here? Finding and Mapping Writing Center Literature
Presenter(s): Neal Lerner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Elisabeth Piedmont-Marton, Southwestern University
Status: Not Started

During this interactive webcast session, originating from the 2008 IWCA Writing Center Summer Institute, we'll survey the field of writing center literature, identifying and discussing key texts and ideas that helped define and continue to shape the field. We'll do this, in part, with game playing to examine participants' knowledge of writing center literature. Next, we'll move beyond surveys and games to take a critical look at writing center literature and consider such questions as, have some of our founding texts become codifying and limiting, and how can …

The Engaged Campus

I've been a member of the SLCC's Thayne Center for Service & Learning Service Learning Advisory Board (SLAB) for several years now. It is a great place and offers SLCC students and faculty many opportunities to engage in service, and learn from those experiences. In order to engage more faculty, the Thayne Center is starting up a new blog: The Engaged Campus. I'm looking forward to helping them out with getting the blog set up and contributing ideas and posts. It should be a good opportunity for faculty to share ideas. Each month it will have a theme. This is to spur commentary from faculty and drive the blog forward. I suppose contributors could write on what they like, but the theme does keep it focussed.

The long silence

Pardon my silence, but this has been a rather busy semester. It is sad when I can't even make time to write.

I recently returned from CCCC at New Orleans. The conference was excellent, and I was lucky to attend some very good sessions. I also had the opportunity to be at the IWCA booth with Michele Eodice, as well as to attend the IWCA SIG on Friday evening. I did break away from the conference a couple of times to indulge my passion for photography. I did record a session with Andrea Lunsford, Lisa Ede, Michele Eodice, Kami Day, Michael Spooner, and Kathy Yancey about collaborative writing. It was one of those sessions that gets you thinking, and I've been thinking about what it is we mean by "collaboration" in writing. The idea behind the session was to hear what authors who write together think about collaboration, but, of course, this quickly branched into the notion of what collaborative learning and writing are for our students. I'm hoping to do so…

Hackers be damned!

Unfortunately, my old and beautiful Undersea template was vunerable to hacking. I've found a new one which allows me to post my own images in the header image. It is a functionally stylish template, but my goldfish image does not convey the breadth that the other one did.

Oh well, at least it conveys the limitations that I often feel.

Start of the semester

It seems proper to bookend my rather sporadic blogging by posting a binary title for you. In any case, as you might imagine, I've been rather busy this first month-and-a-half of spring semester 2008. Mostly I've been dealing a great deal with class stuff. I've been out of the classroom for nearly two years due to professional, campus, and Student Writing Center commitments, save working with tutor education, and I was feeling a bit rusty at first. It wasn't that I didn't know what I was doing--I am pretty diligent, some might say obsessive about class planning, but I did feel a bit out-of-sorts since it seemed all new to me again. In all I was a bit nervous about that feeling, but then I fell into enjoying it again. I also realized I needed to review my teaching style to reach this particular group of students. They are a bright group who have an interesting perspective on things.

In any case, that's why the long silence.

In other news, I've gone a…