Reflections on Leadership: Notes on NCPTW 2009

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College

From the 6th through the 8th of November, four of the University Writing Fellows—Nick, Rebecca, Eamon and Jennifer—attended the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, held this year on the beautiful Mount Holyoke College campus.  This year’s theme was “Leadership and Peer Tutoring: Hope, Vision, Collaboration, Action.” Nick, Rebecca and Eamon presented original research that they conducted last year in English 316, the course on writing theory and practice taken by all new Fellows.  Their panel, “Questioning Authority: Exploring Traditional Institutional Boundaries in Peer Tutoring,” dealt with power dynamics and how institutions, predetermined ideas about student writers, and the doctrines of Composition and Rhetoric pedagogy are complicated, productively, by the sometimes unpredictable outcomes of the tutoring situation.  Jennifer had modified her research into a workshop presentation titled “Collaborating with Campus Communities: Peer Revision in Students’ Social Settings”; in it, she asked session participants to consider the ways Writing Center resources could be mobilized in service of bringing peer revision strategies to students in the residential, social, extra-curricular, or non-curricular environments they inhabit.

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A “temporal object, and a transitory possession”: Authority and The Idea of a University

I’m the Assistant Director of the Writing Fellows Program, that branch of the Writing Center that focuses most explicitly on undergraduate learning, teaching and writing. The Writing Fellows, undergrads who come from across the university, are assigned to writing intensive courses. They read and critique drafts of two formal papers, providing both marginal and end comments to help students identify strengths as well as areas for possible revision. The Fellows then meet with students individually to discuss options and strategies for revision. Each Fellow also conducts an original research project that examines through quantitative and qualitative analysis a problem or issue in peer tutoring or Writing Center practice.

The bulk of my job is spent working with the Fellows as they develop their skills as researchers, peer tutors and writing specialists. On occasion, however, I get to leave HC White and go on trips. Later this week, four Fellows and I will travel to Mount Holyoke College for the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing. (We will post about our travels for your delectation on November 16.) This year’s conference theme is “Leadership and Peer Tutoring: Hope, Vision, Collaboration, Action,” and each of the Fellows will be presenting aspects of their formal research.

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Online Writing Instruction: Different Media, Different Expectations — Still Good Teaching, Learning, and Writing

writingThis year I am the Coordinator of Writing Center Outreach, so it may come as a surprise that I’m going to talk about online writing instruction (OWI). But it’s a topic of importance to how I see myself as a writing teacher and researcher because I have a passion for studying and teaching writing in online environments. Last year, I was fortunate enough to serve as the Coordinator of the Online Writing Center (OWC), and I had the opportunity to seriously consider differences among face-to-face (f2f), synchronous “chat,” and asynchronous “email” instruction.

When I began the training for my colleagues working on the Online Writing Center last year, I started by stating that online writing instruction differs from f2f, yet “good teaching, good learning, and good writing can emerge from networked spaces” (Harrington, Rickly, & Day, 2000). Online writing instruction is also a topic that I’ve seen on the wcenter list-serv, as writing center directors/coordinators explore the possibility of starting OWCs on their campuses and seek out best practices, so I hope to explain in the extremely limited scope of this post a few of these differences and address concerns about the effectiveness of OWI.  At the end, I’ll provide a couple resources for online writing instruction.

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Every Writer Needs a Reader

One of my responsibilities as the Writing Center’s office administrator is to publicize its services and programs across the UW campus. As anyone in marketing will tell you, it’s important to determine a target audience in the communication process. What I’ve found at the Writing Center, however, is that everyone here at the university is in our target audience.

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Back to Basics: Hope and Fear

Hello, readers! Katie Lynch here, Lead TA of the UW-Madison Writing Center. As Lead TA, I am a member of the administrative team that makes decisions about both the daily operations of the Writing Center and its long-term goals. I also meet with students, staff the receptionist desk on occasion, and teach several of the WC classes.*

One of my priorities has been to help Writing Center instructors feel united by a common purpose and shared goals. To that end, I’ve implemented a theme for the semester: “Back to Basics.” I’d like to take this opportunity to talk a little more about that initiative.

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Voices of Welcome

Hello! And welcome to our blog. I’m delighted to offer our second-ever post, which features the words of five fabulous undergraduates who run our reception desk. Theirs are the voices you hear when you call to schedule an appointment or ask a question; theirs are the faces you see when you walk into our main location in 6171 Helen C. White Hall.

As both dedicated members of our staff and students with lots of writing to do, they are in an ideal position to answer the following: What’s the best thing about coming to the Writing Center?

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