#IWCWeek, Day 7: Love Your Center!

"Red Love" by Thomas Hawk
“Red Love” by Thomas Hawk

It’s the last day of #IWCWeek, and as it is February 14th, we’d like to wrap things up by showing all of our writing centers and all of our writing center professionals some serious love! Tell us why you love your center, your staff, your space, your regional organization, or IWCA! Tag with #IWCWeek and #WCLove and make a writing center your valentine. 

Don’t forget: centers with perfect participation (one tagged post for each day of the week) will be entered in to a special drawing to win a pizza party courtesy of IWCA! Capture screenshots of each of your daily posts and send them to Julie Platt at julieroseplatt@gmail.com, with “IWC Week posts” as the subject line. The winner will be announced next week!

We hope you had a wonderful #IWCWeek! We’re grateful for your participation, and even more grateful for the excellent work you do every day in your centers. Special thanks to all of our contributors, to the IWCA Board, and to the IWCA Outreach Committee! 


#IWCWeek Day 6: Put Your Center on the Map!

Derived from image Creative Commons licensed to Flickr user Kenneth Lu
Derived from image Creative Commons licensed to Flickr user Kenneth Lu

Where are our writing centers? Here’s a chance to chance to see the world of IWCA and connect with local centers. We invite you to use the instructions below to put your center on the official IWCA map. Additionally, please tell us about your meaningful connections to other centers and affiliates and tag your posts with #IWCWeek.

IWCA Map Directions:

1. Open the IWCA Writing Center Map:

2. In the left panel, click the layer you want to use. For example, if your writing center is part of a four-year college or university, select the “Four Year Colleges and Universities” layer. The selected layer will be blue on the left edge.

3. Enter the address of your writing center or school in the white search bar at the top of the page. Click the blue magnifying glass to enter.

4. Click the placemark icon on your writing center  and select “Add to map.”

5. Select the pencil “edit” button to add the title of your writing center and a description. You may want to include contact information, a link to your website, and other relevant information, such as ongoing research.

If you make a mistake, you can select the “undo” arrow, re-enter descriptions, or replace placemarks.

Regional affiliates: Ask us about importing locations from this map to create your own regional map, or importing a map you have already created. https://support.google.com/mymaps/answer/3024836

Navigating the Map:

To move the map (pan), simply click and hold your mouse, then drag the map. You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the map north, south, east, and west.

Zoom in an out by using the zoom in and zoom out buttons in the bottom right corner of the map. You can also double click to zoom in, or use your mouse scroll or trackpad to zoom in and out.

Example map picture
IWCA Writing Center Map

Example Writing Center Description:

Example Writing Center of Pennsylvania,
Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association 
Director: Susan Director (directoremail@college.edu)              
Assistant Director: Joel Assistant (assistant@college.edu)
Ongoing writing center research:                                 
-Which social media tools attract the most students to the Writing Center? (Dan Tutor, sampletutor@college.edu)
-How does volunteer tutoring with English Language learners influence the practice of Writing Center tutors? (Kelly Tutor,tutor2@college.edu)
WC Facebook:       www.facebook.com/samplewritingcenter    
WC Website:    www.samplecollege.com/writingcenter

#IWCWeek, Day 5: More Research Stories!

This “totally RAD” research story comes to us from Dr. Sherry Wynn Perdue, Director of the Writing Center at Oakland University.

My RAD Research Journey

My thoughts about research and the research agenda for our center occurs at the nexus of two important themes: 1) the need for more empirical research to sustain writing centers’ claims to best practices and 2) a growing awareness of the important role that sponsorship plays in WC research. In today’s post, I reflect upon the etiology of my own research and how it has shaped opportunities for my own center’s undergraduate- and graduate student writing consultants.

My RAD research journey commenced when my colleague Dana Lynn Driscoll and I launched a content analysis of all research articles from 1980-2009 in The Writing Center Journal. This was soon followed by a large-scale survey of writing center professionals (WCPs), follow-up interviews with a selected sample of WCPs, and a focus group of WCPS attending a national conference. (Thank you writing center colleagues for being so generous with your time!) Our first publication demonstrated that of the articles classified as “research,” less than five percent would meet the conditions for empirical research or RAD Research (Haswell, 2005), meaning that most of this research was not replicable, aggregable, or data-supported. Despite this disappointing finding, we determined that research scores were rising over time, particularly over the last decade. More important than our findings about research production was our growing attention to the question, “Why?” As such, we next turned to the conditions that potentially hindered empirical research in and on writing centers.

In two follow-up articles we have shared six themes that appear to influence WCPs’ research: 1) education and training, 2) labor and institutional oversight, 3) financial resources, and 4) sponsorship as well as our field’s 5) definition of and politics of research and its 6) research practices. Of these, the linchpin is sponsorship.

Shortly after completing the interviews and surveys and while helping our own department to build a new undergraduate major in writing and rhetoric, we realized that sponsorship needed to occur on all fronts; we needed to BOTH address conditions affecting the situation of our professional colleagues AND prepare the next generation of scholars to do empirical research. While we already taught research and we certainly mentored our WRT majors and consultants, we needed to hone the sponsorship continuum by inviting students, the primary WC practitioners, not only to study with us and work for us but also to collaborate with us on publications and on research projects that we envisioned together.

Our first effort yielded an article for Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring in which Dana, I, and three UG consultants (Enrique Paz, Jessica Tess, and Jacob Matthews (two who are now graduate students doing exciting work at other institutions)) reflected on our participation along the sponsorship continuum—moving to and fro among teaching, mentoring, collaborating, and coauthoring. While it did not describe a collaborative empirical research project, it did 1) empower three UGs to articulate their process of becoming researchers in their own words and via their own projects and 2) share a sponsorship framework for future collaborations.

In our current project, Dana, I, and a UG colleague have I have extended that sponsorship into a truly collaborative empirical research project that examines WCP job descriptions. With undergraduate researcher Sam Boyhtari, we are coding 10 years’ worth of position descriptions culled from the MLA jobs’ list, the WPA Job Board, and job posting shared on WCenter. This project was motivated by a wave of recent job announcements that shocked our community in different ways. One type appears to describe two jobs in one, with expectations for research, a heavy teaching load, and full-time writing center oversight. Another type, which entrusts the leadership and training of an academic service to someone with limited education—a B.A.—carries an embarrassingly small salary and a laundry lists of duties . . . . With this study, we hope to determine how institutions understand the WCP’s role and how this might further affect WC research as well as to make recommendations for a WCP position statement . . .

Well, I’ve penned too much for a blog post and now run the risk of composing a biography of my scholarship . . . . And, while I share the need for kudos, I don’t think you are reading this just to learn about me . . . .

In sharing today, I hope to demonstrate the rewards inherent in research—for me, for the center, for the future of the field—even research conducted when not a part of one’s job description, even when I’m coding during the wee hours, even when simple numbers of clients might have been deemed enough. I’m thankful for the research sponsorship extended to me (Thank you Dana (yes, we can learn from younger colleagues), Linda Bergmann, Eileen Johnson, and Julia Smith) and for the opportunity to pay it forward.

This moment of gratitude leads me to my last point of reflection. I would not be in a position to help my co-editor Rebecca Hallman bring her vision for IWCA’s new journal The Peer Review: A Journal for Writing Center Practitioners to life if it were not for this journey, my sponsors, and the lessons I continue to learn from and with my writing center colleagues—directors, graduate students, undergraduate students, and high school students.

#IWCWeek Day 5: Research Stories

Every center has a research story–often more than one! Check out a few of them below.

From Dr. Lindsay Sabatino of UNC Greensboro and Dr. Maggie Herb of Stetson U

“Understanding the Collaboration between Libraries and Centers”

At the university level, centers and learning commons are increasingly moving into libraries. As stated by Elmborg (2005), “Libraries are self-consciously redefining themselves, moving away from the warehousing definitions of the past and toward instructional models” (p. 4). As libraries redefine their roles on campus, who and what initiate the collaboration between centers/commons and libraries? What stakeholders are a part of the conversation? How does this change impact center pedagogy and culture? In order to better understand the impact of such moves, the effect on center, culture and pedagogy, and what makes center/library collaborations effective, we are collecting responses from directors of centers/commons whose primary home is located within their institution’s library. The purpose of this research is to understand what is prompting this trend, the circumstances and conditions around these moves, and the impact of these moves on the discipline. Our goal is to offer advice and guidance for those who are engaged in or anticipating this type of collaboration.

We will be collecting responses until February 20, 2015. If you are a director of a center or learning commons and are interested in participating in our research, which is confidential and anonymous, please click on the following link: https://uncg.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_74EpyhHijTDiayx. Also, please share the link with any colleagues who might be interested in participating. If you have questions, want more information, or have suggestions, please contact Dr. Lindsay Sabatino at lasabati@uncg.edu or Dr. Maggie Herb at mherb@stetson.edu.


Elmborg, J. K. (2005). Libraries and writing centers in collaboration: A basis in theory.

In J. K. Elmborg & S. Hook (Eds.), Centers for Learning: Writing centers and libraries in collaboration (pp. 1-20). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.


From Holland Enke of the Center for Writing Across the Curriculum, St. Mary’s College of California

In our center, we are preparing for the Northern California Writing Centers Association Conference, which means many of our advisers are engaged in some fantastic research! One group of advisers, inspired by our minimalist pedagogy, is exploring brainstorming sessions and the adviser’s task to work from the ground up. They are busy researching how qualities of vernacular language and dialogue can help students develop ideas through a collaborative experience. Another group is exploring the importance of safe spaces and the writing center, researching the link between social identities and perceived safe and unsafe spaces and discussing the roles assumed by writing advisers in facilitating these spaces. All work from undergraduate advisers, these presentations sprung from our close relationship with our community and hope to assist others and ourselves in continuing to serve our students to the fullest.  With so much research and discussion about writing fluttering through the Center, it definitely feels like IWC Week here!

#IWCWeek Day 5: Research and Publication Day!

From conferences to journals to articles to books to websites and apps, writing centers generate a lot of diverse research! Today, Day 4, we celebrate research and publication and invite you to share the work your center is doing, whether finished or in process. Highlight the research activities happening in your center and tag your posts with #IWCWeek!

Also, today, a special treat! Writing center scholars will be hanging out on Twitter to chat with you and give you feedback on your research ideas and pitches.

We look forward to hearing about your projects today!

#IWCWeek Day 4: A Day in the Life of the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking at Stanford

This look into a day in the life of a writing center comes to us from Allie Fijolek, Student Outreach and Community Associate at the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking at Stanford University. 

It’s Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 6pm. We are just over halfway through the day—tutoring began eight hours ago and will continue for another six hours, ending at midnight. Over 40 undergraduate and graduate students Palayworkshop1have been scheduled for half-hour and hour-long appointments today with one of 15 writing or oral communication tutors—a typical day in the Center. Additional students attend drop-in tutoring with the other 17 tutors working today. (In all, we have 150 hired tutors, a team including undergrads, grad students, and lecturers.) A number of peer oral communication tutors (OCTs) conducted workshops on effective presentation skills earlier today in classrooms across campus, and several peer writing tutors will be working with late night tutees in our satellite dorm locations from 10 pm to midnight.

Palayworkshop2In our Lounge space, Betsy Palay is wrapping up a three-part series on “Strategies for the Visual Communication of Science.” (http://www.betsypalay.com/). This afternoon marked the final session. Betsy Palay is empowering STEM scholars to re-think the possibilities of using visuals to become better communicators. She says that visual thinking skills can be used “for conceptualization, collaboration, presentation, and education.”

In addition to the buzz of workshops aPalayworkshop3nd tutoring, the Center is bustling with administrative activity. From reviewing tutor applications submitted by prospective tutors for the 2015-2016 academic year, to assisting student volunteer art curators who are updating our Center as a student art gallery space, and from preparing for a Valentine’s Day event to help students craft written and oral love notes, to greeting students and fielding questions at the reception desk, there is plenty of excitement to go around!