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Article Proposal or How to Fail at Getting Out of Writing!

One of the "Upcoming topics" on the sidebar reads "How to beg-off writing/creating an article/web-thing even though you should be writing it really, but you are gasping for air."  I fear I must announce, however, that I've been an utter failure in being able to beg-off anything and have been persuaded to write such an article for an upcoming issue Computers & Writing edited by Shelley Rodrigo and Matthew Kim.  The overall subject matter for this issue is rhetorical media and open access institutions.  In their call for papers, Rodrigo and Kim define rhetorical media as an almalgam of all sorts of new media--including web texts, audio, video, and other web 2.0 stuff.  Here's my grandiose (and accepted!) proposal:


“New Media and the Twenty First Century Open Access Writing Tutor:  How Writing Center Work Will Never be the Same Again”

The days where students came to writing centers with “papers” to be talked/worked over are pretty much gone, particularly at open access institutions that embrace a broader concept of writing than traditional academic contexts often do.   In a traditional institution of higher learning, for example, students often practice only writing academic texts for academic purposes.  Many other institutions—particularly those with open access—are broadening the scope of the type of writing that students create in so-called writing or composition classes and strive to provide students with a broader sense of the type of writing they will be doing in their lives, and not just the narrow scope of the academic research paper of the past.*

 A broader sense of writing necessarily includes rhetorical media as defined in the call for papers.  I would go so far to argue that we are doing a disservice to students when we don’t talk about writing in a broader context and include a variety of rhetorical practices in our instruction.   With a larger scope of writing in mind, it becomes very important that writing center consultants/tutors be prepared to work with writers in a variety of circumstances and to give strong, effective feedback. 

In this article, therefore, I propose to address the following issue:
  • establish the background of writing centers and the types of writing our research/literature presumes our students come to us with
  • establish the presence (and perhaps prevalence) of rhetorical media in the modern context
  • establish what the current state of practice is at open-access institution writing centers in responding to rhetorical media writers
  • explore potential action that writing center professionals can take to prepare their centers for responding to rhetorical media
 * I realize that there are many open access institutions that favor traditionalist curriculum and eschew the modern (perhaps too many), but those institutions will be forced into change rather soon given the ubiquity of rhetorical media and the desire of students to learn about/from it.
 After reflecting on the proposal for a while, I think that I will be happy to just cover the forth item on the bulleted list.   I've already started a survey that is trying to suss out how much new media tutoring is going on in writing centers.  I also hope to interview writing center folk who have implemented robust tutoring models in league with the variety of writing that modern-day students are doing.

It should be an interesting research project, to say the least.

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The number of respondents is 118 (n=118). The questions that allowed multiple answers are represented as area graphs to give a better sense of the overall spread of the response.


Most of the respondents were from higher education. This is no doubt due to posting the survey on WCENTER and WPA-L. I am uncertain of the demographics of either of those lists, but I have a well-informed hunch that not many non-higher education folks participate in them.




The purpose of my research is, ultimately, to write an article about tutoring in new media (for wont of a better term) at open access institutions. I was somewhat surprised by the nearly 20% of respondents who don't know…