Share Your #4c15 Writing Center Ideas!

IWCA Collab 15We’re back from yet another fun and productive CCCC! We attended many great panels and workshops at both the IWCA Collaborative and the main conference, and we’re flush with ideas!

How about you? Let’s share! Tweet us at @IWCA_NCTE and tell us one thing you discovered at #4c15 that you plan to use in your own writing center. Tag it with #4c15 and #WCIdeas. 

Don’t forget, there are only a few days left to submit a proposal to #IWCAConf15! Think you could turn one of your #WCIdeas into a proposal…and start some #WCrEvolutions? Submit here!


Julie’s Top Ten “Burgh Things” to See and Do at #IWCAConf15

IWCA At-Large Rep Julie Platt is probably a little too excited to show you around her hometown. But can you blame her? Pittsburgh is a fun, friendly, and fascinating city with a rich history and bright future. Let Julie give you a preview tour of the ‘Burgh before you arrive in October!

Go for a walk at Point State Park. The Wyndham Grand’s front door opens to this beautiful downtown park. Walk along the Three Rivers and take a photo by the fountain at the former site of Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne.

Get creative at The Warhol or the Mattress Factory. A quick bus or taxi ride from the Wyndham will take you to the North Side, where you can see some incredible contemporary art. The Warhol’s collection includes recognizable classics and rotating exhibits by new artists while The Mattress Factory is dedicated to cutting-edge installation pieces.

Root for the black and gold at PNC Park, Heinz Field, or the Console Energy Center. Pittsburgh is the city of champions, and our sports teams call these three beautiful venues home. While you’re on the North Side, take in the skyline view from PNC Park.32RWncK

Visit Mister Rogers. While the Neighborhood of Make-Believe at WQED Studios is closed to the public (except for special events), you can visit the statue of Fred Rogers on the North Shore before you head elsewhere.

Eat a Primanti Bros’ sandwich. Pittsburgh is famous for piling French fries and vinegar-dressed cole slaw inside deli sandwiches—not on the side. Head east from downtown to find the original Primanti’s in the Strip District, Pittsburgh’s historic market district.


Take in the past at the Heinz History Center or the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. On your way to sandwich bliss, stop at the Heinz History Center, which celebrates Western Pennsylvania history, including the Sports Museum that honors the famous Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords Negro League teams. Or, take a bus or taxi to Oakland to see the dinosaurs the Carnegie is famous for, including a massive, complete T. Rex skeleton.

Check out the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Walk a few short blocks from the Carnegie to get to this immense Gothic cathedral, which is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere. Take a tour of the Nationality Rooms, or hang out in the Commons Room and pretend you’re at Hogwarts.


Get back to nature at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, the National Aviary, or Phipps Conservatory. The Zoo and Aquarium, located a bus ride from the Wyndham, are world-class, and the National Aviary on the North Side has hundreds of species of birds. Phipps Conservatory, in Oakland, offers beautiful seasonal exhibits of plants and flowers year-round.

Celebrate Pittsburgh’s zombie heritage. While he wasn’t born in the ‘Burgh, George A. Romero has set virtually all of his classic zombie flicks in and around Pittsburgh. Take an excursion to Evans City to see the cemetery featured in Night of the Living Dead, or drive a few miles to Monroeville Mall for Dawn of the Dead déjà vu. The truly brave can check out the Pittsburgh Zombie Outbreak, an “interactive haunted paintball ride” offering a chance to hunt the undead.

Chill out on the South Side. After a productive day of sessions, walk across the Smithfield Street Bridge to some of the trendy restaurants and bars on East Carson, or take the Duquesne Incline to Mount Washington for another truly amazing view of the city.

DuqIncline21Join writing center professionals from around the world in Pittsburgh this fall for #IWCAConf15 as we celebrate #WCrEvolutions!

Get Ready to Fall In Love with Pittsburgh at #IWCAConf15!

One thing that makes this year’s IWCA Conference special is its location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of America’s most unique and dynamic cities. At least that’s what IWCA At-Large Rep Julie Platt (a born and bred Pittsburgher) thinks. Pittsburgh_WEO_Night_1

Check the IWCA Blog later this week for Julie’s list of top-ten must sees in the Steel City. For now, enjoy this pic of Pittsburgh’s famous skyline, and think about writing center (r)Evolutions!

Weekend To-Do: Think About #WCrEvolutions!

IWCA_logo_2015_revised_300dpi10inches-300x300It’s Friday evening. What’s your weekend looking like? Think you might have some time to consider your proposals for the IWCA Conference 2015?

We invite you to consider writing center (r)evolutions: the ways in which we create our writing center pedagogies, practices, spaces, and programs through artistic and technological innovations.

We will meet in Pittsburgh, PA, the Steel City, at the Wyndham Hotel to explore writing center (r)evolutions and the ways that these (r)evolutions move writing center conversations forward. Playing on Pittsburgh’s own evolution, we encourage proposals that consider the evolution of your own writing centers and writing center work. Successful proposals might focus on new communities, places, and spaces, and be inspired by (but not limited to) the following threads:

  • Working class and the visual arts–how writing centers channel blue collar versions of Andy Warhol
  • Ways in which visual arts and multimodal composition are at work in writing centers
  • The development of multiliteracy centers and related approaches
  • How writing centers allow students to create and connect
  • Ways in which notions of labor and unions figure in conversations about our work
  • The evolution of working with multilingual writers and multilingual writing

Program Format

The 2015 IWCA Conference consists primarily of 75-minute Concurrent Sessions offered Thursday morning through late Saturday afternoon. Concurrent Sessions may consist of full panel presentations (3 or more presenters); individual presentations (1-2 presenters, 15 minutes) grouped together by topic; roundtable discussions led by two or more facilitators; poster presentations; workshops led by two or more facilitators; Ignite presentations; and Special Interest Groups. Featured presentations will be organized by the Program Chair. Poster sessions will take place on Thursday and Friday afternoons. Special Interest Groups (SIGs) will be offered during 60-minute meeting times on Thursday and Friday evenings.

  • Concurrent Sessions: Individual presentation or conference paper. You will be placed on the program with other presenters with similar interests.
  • Panel Presentations: 3 to 4 presentations of 15-20 minutes each on a particular theme or question.
  • Individual Presentations: 15-20 minute papers that will be combined into a panel by the program chairs.
  • Roundtable Discussions: 15 minutes of introductory comments/question framing by the presenters and then a discussion among attendees.
  • Poster Presentations: A research-fair style presentation of research in which the presenter(s) create a visual argument and informally discuss their research with attendees.
  • Workshop Sessions: 75-minute interactive sessions that encourage participant involvement. Consider including manipulatives, games, etc. to encourage interaction.
  • Ignite Sessions: 5 minute presentations that include 20 presentation slides (PPT or Keynote), each lasting 15 seconds.
  • Special Interest Groups: Special Interest Groups (SIGs) would meet for one hour during the conference. SIGs are typically informal conversations with colleagues and peers. Proposals should include a brief description and overview of how participants will be involved.

Proposal Guidelines

  1. Follow the proposal guidelines.
  2. Be specific and clear about the focus and purpose of your proposal. No supplemental material will be accepted.
  3. Session descriptions should be no more than 300 words. Abstracts should be 70-100 words.
  4. Submit proposals by the deadline: April 1, 2015.
  5. Program invitations will be sent to presenters by May 15, 2015.
  6. All presenters must accept invitations, register, and pay registration fee by August 8, 2015, in order to appear in the conference program.
  7. All presenters and contact information must be accurate and up to date by August 8, 2015.

Please contact Russell Carpenter, Program Chair, at or 859-622-7403 with any questions regarding the conference proposal submission process.

  • More complex and layered ways that writing centers get their work done
  • Ways writing centers respond to the increasingly complex definitions of writing
  • How writing centers foster research, development, and innovation
  • Ways writing centers move institutions forward and build momentum for campus-wide initiatives
  • Ways writing centers reach beyond institutional walls through literacy and partnership activities

#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, 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 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.