Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
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WRAC Guide to: The 2017 ECWCA Conference

While most WRAC students and faculty are back in East Lansing recovering from a busy week of conferencing, our friends in the Writing Center are still hard at work sharing their research. The annual East Central Writing Center Association (ECWCA) starts Friday, March 24th and runs through Saturday afternoon. This year's version of ECWCA takes place at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, and will feature seven concurrent sessions spread over the two days. With more than a dozen WRAC representatives attending ECWCA this week, led by Writing Center Director and WRAC Faculty Trixie Smith and including WRAC graduate students, undergrads, and consultants from across the university.

If you want to check in on all the happenings at ECWCA, we've created a quick guide to help you find them on the schedule.

Session B: 10:10 – 11:10 AM

WOOD 481

Creating a Peer Writing Tutor/Consultant Alumni Research Project Site as Professional Development for Undergraduate Consultants - Marilee Brooks-Gillies, WRAC PhD Alumni and the Director of the University Writing Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

In our roundtable, we provide information about how we created our own Peer Writing Tutor/Consultant Alumni Research Project (PWTCARP) site at IUPUI’s University Writing Center (UWC). After sharing our experiences, we ask participants to discuss the ways that they have encouraged or sought professional development around research in their own writing centers.


Working in the Writing Center with Student Affairs Background - Cristian Lambaren Sanchez & Michael Carroll, Writing Center Consultants, Michigan State University

In this presentation, we will discuss how our experiences in the Student Affairs and Administration program has influenced our work in the Writing Center. We will elaborate on the ways in which our curriculum has shaped how we work with students in the context of a writing center, which is typically not considered a traditional student affairs functional area. We will specifically discuss how documents such as Learning Reconsidered and Learning Reconsidered 2 have guided our approach to support the students we work with. We will also elaborate on how concepts, in Paulo Freire's book: Pedagogy of the Oppressed, such as the banking model of education and problem-posing education have affected our praxis in the writing center.

Session C: 1:05-2:05 PM

WOOD 471

Roundtable Discussion on the Experience of Conducting Multi-tiered Writing Center Research - Joseph Cheatle, WRAC Faculty and Associate Director of the Writing Center, Kenlea Pebbles, First Year PhD Student, Autumn Laws, MA Student, Colton Sayre, Michael Carroll, Rohitha Edaro, Alexis Sargent, Writing Center Consultants, Rachel Wahl, Professional Writing Major,Michigan State University

From Muriel Harris to Neal Lerner, scholars and practitioners have advocated for research and further professionalization of those working in writing centers. This research is often collaborative and frequently includes some combination of administrators, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Such research provides opportunities for collaborators to explore pressing issues in their own writing center, on campus, or common issues among writing centers at different institutions. This multi-tiered research group from Michigan State University (including a faculty administrator, graduate students, and undergraduate students) discusses and explores the research that we have done together, focusing on personal experiences, benefits of research, and the difficulties of conducting research in the writing center.

Session D: 2:15-3:15 PM

WOOD 458

Big Happy Family: Researching Community and Peerness in the Writing Center - Rachel Robinson, First Year PhD Student, Elise Dixon, Second Year PhD Student, Kate Firestone, Second Year PhD Student, Lauren Brentnell, Second Year PhD Student, Jerrice Donelson, First Year PhD Student, Caitlin Vander Meulen, Professional Writing Major, Michigan State University

To outline steps for creating community between graduate and undergraduate students within our writing center, we investigated the notion of 'peerness' among consultants. Our goal was to see if the perceived hierarchical nature of our own academic positions automatically divided us into authorities and subordinates, or if it, instead, fostered a symbiotic relationship. The results show that as much as we’d like our center to be a community without automatic authorities, it might be instead viewed as a family, with natural leaders and subordinates, who don’t necessarily get to choose each other. We will discuss the steps we took to deploy our research study, our findings, and our future plans. We hope audience members will understand how to mimic a research study similar to ours in their own center and come away with a deeper understanding of the complexities of community and peerness among tutors.

Session E: 3:25-4:25 PM

A Model for How Writing Centers Can Prepare Diverse Students for Collegiate Success - Autumn Laws, Michigan State University

Writing Centers offer a unique position for university research, since they serve diverse student populations. My own work is interested in ethnicity and writing center use, particularly in the ways that students of different ethnicities who use the writing center feel prepared (or unprepared) for college. Information about ethnicity was gathered through a survey administered to the users of Michigan State University’s satellite writing centers. The purpose of this survey was to analyze the diverse population that these satellite writing centers serve to determine how best these populations can be specifically assisted. The survey question analyzed in this presentation assesses how prepared students of different ethnicities at MSU feel in their writing habits. By looking at this data, a more strategic approach could be developed to help these students with the problems they specified and increase the outreach that Michigan State University’s writing center serves.

WOOD 481

Assessment as Everyday Practice in the Writing Center: Collaborating and Revising - Trixie Smith, Michigan State University, Marilee Brooks-Gillies, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

We come to assessment in the writing center from a cultural rhetoric’s positionality arguing that assessment is a practice of everyday life; something we do on a regular basis. For this roundtable, we narrow down to two specific practices we see as part of a constellation of writing center assessment: collaboration and revision. We ask: what are the other affordances of looking at assessment as an everyday practice?

Session G: 10:10-11:10 AM


Promoting Inclusion of Students from Varied Disciplines at the Writing Center - Rohitha Edara & Michael Carroll, Michigan State University

The presentation will begin with an introduction of the research project we conducted at Michigan State University, with emphasis on purpose and goals. We would then report the results of our research project and provide some insights on promoting inclusion of students/faculty from all majors and disciplines at the Writing Center.