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Blythe, Stuart. "Networked Computers + Writing Centers = ? Thinking about Networked Computers in Writing Center Practice." Writing Center Journal 17.2 (Spring 1997): 89–110.
Writing centers have been rushing to add networked computer technologies to their services, but logistical questions have dominated ("How can this be done?") rather than theoretical questions. The latter are necessary for examining conceptions of technology that underlie discussions of networked writing-center services. Instrumental theories, the idea that technology is neutral, lead to a focus on purely logistical concerns and the belief that a center's basic mission will not change; substantive theories focus on the power of technology and the inevitable changes (for good or bad) that it will bring. Both theories are inadequate for researching theoretical questions; what's needed is a critical theory of technology (Feenberg) that can help to shape the designs of writing-center technologies.
Boquet, Elizabeth H. Noise from the Writing Center. Logan, UT: Utah State Univ. Press, 2002.
Paying attention to the noise in (and about) the writing center allows for a new representation of writing centers. By embracing, even amplifying, the noise of the writing center—the feedback, distortion, dissonance, harmony, and repetition—we can come to recognize the writing center as a powerful place—a place where people go in search of information that might be excluded in more "efficient" systems, and as a place where teaching and learning are transformed into more performative processes.
Boquet, Elizabeth H. "'Our Little Secret': A History of Writing Centers, Pre- to Post-Open Admissions." CCC 50.3 (February 1999): 463–82.
Some forms of "secrecy" are endemic to the institutional position of writing centers because of the tension enacted there between institutional goals and individual pedagogies. A history of writing centers reveals a tension between time and space: "between the writing center whose identity rests on method and the writing center whose identity rests on site." Early writing centers evolved from a method of instruction but by the 1940s became a site—a place where, for example, students were sent by the institution for remediation. Open admissions writing centers, forced to take a defensive stance within their institutions, began to train peer tutors, furthering the implications of the site-method dichotomy. Boquet is most interested in the "excessive institutional possibilities" of writing centers—the ways in which they exceed their spaces and methods.
Brooks, Jeff. "Minimalist Tutoring: Making the Student Do All the Work." Writing Lab Newsletter 15 (February 1991): 1–4.
The tutor's job is not to improve papers (tempting though that is) but to improve writers. To avoid the temptation to edit, the tutor should follow simple rules: sit beside the student, keep the paper close to the student, don't hold a pen or pencil, and have the student read the paper aloud at the start of the conference to reinforce the student's authority and engagement. In addition, be sure to praise something in the paper, ask questions rather than give suggestions, and, if possible, have students do some writing. Don't allow students to force you to edit: they will ultimately appreciate your refusal to do so.
Carino, Peter. "Open Admissions and the Construction of Writing Center History: A Tale of Three Models." Writing Center Journal 17.1 (Fall 1996): 30–48.
A cultural model of writing-center history—drawing upon poststructuralist assumptions, thick descriptions, and untidy versions of progress—challenges both evolutionary and dialectic models, neither of which is adequate to representing center history from 1968 to 1983. Open admissions initiatives did not give birth to writing centers and were not central to debates on remediation. The evolutionary model—the idea that labs "have come a long way"—serves a political and rhetorical purpose but is too seamless as a narrative. The dialectic model offers a "heroic tale of resistance" to the lab as a remedial operation and reinforces the idea of centers as radically innovative. Using the Purdue lab in 1975 as one example, Carino demonstrates the more detailed history of the cultural model.
DiPardo, Anne. A Kind of Passport: A Basic Writing Adjunct Program and the Challenge of Student Diversity. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1993.
Case studies focus on four basic writers—a Mexican-American woman, a Native American woman, an African-American man, and a recently arrived Salvadoran man—and on the adjuncts assigned to them for tutorial support—two more accomplished undergraduate writers, an African-American woman and a European-American woman. Their struggles and successes suggest that the tensions aroused by campus diversity and educational-opportunity programs should be discussed openly by faculty and students, that basic writers need help finding personal meaning in the academic work in a cultural environment that is often unfamiliar or hostile, and that peer tutors need to establish their role as facilitators without being undermined by student resistance or riding roughshod over it.
Grimm, Nancy Maloney. Good Intentions: Writing Center Work for Postmodern Times. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann/Boynton-Cook, 1999.
Postmodern theory, particularly because of its emphasis on diversity, subjectivity, and agency, engages writing center practices in a reconsideration of literacy, fairness, and social justice. The good intentions of those who do and do not fully understand writing center work must be disrupted. Given the regulatory nature of literacy and given the fact that writing centers facilitate both literacy and assimilation into academic discourses, writing center work is neither innocent nor ideologically neutral. Writing centers can, however, rise above their normalizing and gatekeeping functions. Writing centers can be not only places where students gain access to literacy, but also places where public and political action occurs. Recipient of the IWCA Outstanding Scholarship Award.
Grimm, Nancy. "The Regulatory Role of the Writing Center: Coming to Terms with a Loss of Innocence." Writing Center Journal 17.1 (Fall 1996): 5–29.
Writing centers are often implicated in regulatory uses of literacy despite the innocence with which writing-center work is currently theorized. The institutional role of the writing center and its implication in disciplinary forms of power (Foucault) assumes that the problem of literacy has been located in the individual rather than in institutional practices and in academic discourse. The stories of two "successful" students who encountered normalizing practices illustrate how writing-center instruction is tied to an autonomous view of literacy, where individuals must master the code, rather than to an ideological view of literacy, where "proofreading," for example, becomes a complex "normalized cultural belief" that requires critical engagement.
Harris, Jeanette, and Joyce Kinkead, eds. Writing Centers in Context: Twelve Case Studies. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1993.
Twelve circumstantial descriptions of working writing centers provide concrete details about how centers work. Each description follows the same outline: history, physical description (including a floor plan), chronology of a typical day, clientele, selection and training of tutors, types of services (including tutoring, testing, computers, WAC, etc.), administration (management, staff, budget), evaluation, research, and plans for the future. Centers described are at Purdue, Medgar Evers College, University of Toledo, Lehigh University, University of Southern California, Harvard, University of Puget Sound, Johnson County Community College, University of Washington, Utah State, and Colorado State. A concluding essay by Kinkead examines themes raised in the text. Includes bibliography and index.
Harris, Muriel. "Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors." CE 57 (1995): 27–42.
Tutoring should not be seen as an extension of other forms of instruction. In the one-to-one experience of working with a tutor, student writers gain knowledge that does not arise in other settings. The tutor is a middleperson mediating between the teacher and the student, a role teachers cannot truly take. The tutorial relationship is, moreover, flexible and conversational and therefore more personal than classroom interaction. Students feel helped rather than instructed by the tutor. Writing-center evaluations show that students prefer to do their own work, to reach their own conclusions—again, a situation not usually available in a class setting. Talking to a teacher, students feel pressured to perform rather than to think freely, as they can with a tutor. In the tutoring experience, students actually write, reread, and revise, gaining practical knowledge in collaboration with the tutor. Students can also express anxiety with a tutor, rarely if at all with a teacher. In their intermediate position, tutors are able to interpret academic language and ease the transition to a new discourse community. In short, writing instruction without a writing center would lack activities essential for students to mature as
See: Muriel Harris, Teaching One-to-One: The Writing Conference .
Healy, Dave. "Countering the Myth on (In)dependence: Developing Life-Long Clients." Writing Lab Newsletter 18 (1994): 1–3.
Metaphors of writing centers as clinics and clients as diseased cast the center as a place that should cure and discharge the client. One who returns is not fully cured. Although these metaphors have been thoroughly criticized, we still assume that the goal of the center is to make the client independent, to leave the center and not return. Those who do return signal the center's failure. But this view misrepresents the center's mission. Centers are not storehouses dispensing knowledge, but Burkean parlors where writers can discuss writing and get feedback. Writing, we know, is ongoing collaboration. The image of the solitary writer is a throwback. Why stigmatize those who seek the presence of others? A place where talk about writing occurs should hardly be seen as a place where there is an impoverished understanding of writing.
Hobson, Eric H., ed. Wiring the Writing Center. Logan: Utah State Univ. Press, 1998.
An introduction by the editor and fourteen chapters discuss the possibilities and limitations of online applications for writing centers. Essays include David Coogan, "Email 'Tutoring' as Collaborative Writing"; Sara Kimball, "WAC on the Web: Writing Center Outreach to Teachers of Writing Intensive Courses"; Stuart Blythe, "Wiring a Usable Center: Usability Research and Writing Center Practice"; Neal Lerner, "Drill Pads, Teaching Machines, and Programmed Texts: Origins of Instructional Technology in Writing Centers"; and Ellen Mohr, "The Community College Mission and the Electronic Writing Center."
Hult, Christine, and Joyce Kinkead, eds. Writing Centers Online, a special issue of Computers and Composition 12.2 (1995).
Twelve essays comprise this special issue, including Jane Nelson and Cynthia Wambeam, "Moving Computers into the Writing Center: The Path to Least Resistance"; Muriel Harris and Michael Pemberton, "Online Writing Labs (OWLS): A Taxonomy of Options and Issues"; David Coogan, "E-Mail Tutoring, a New Way to Do New Work"; Irene Clark, "Information Literacy and the Writing Center"; Gail Wood, "Making the Transition from ASL [American Sign Language] to English: Deaf Students, Computers, and the Writing Center"; and Cindy Johanek and Rebecca Rickly, "Online Tutor Training: Synchronous Conferencing in a Professional Community."
Kail, Harvey, and John Trimbur. "The Politics of Peer Tutoring." WPA: Writing Program Administration 11 (Fall 1987): 5–12.
Peer tutoring may be based in the writing center or in the curriculum. The writing-center model makes tutoring voluntary and open with regard to the stage of writing or questions addressed. Its success depends on publicity and image. In the curriculum-based model, tutoring is required of writing students. More students see tutors this way, and the program is easier to administer. But in the curriculum-based model, tutors are part of the institution and share its authority, and this situation inhibits collaboration. The writing-center model is superior in this regard. Writing-center collaboration also challenges institutional authority and may demystify the institution's ideology of knowledge delivery.
Konstant, Shoshana Beth. "Multi-Sensory Tutoring for Multi-Sensory Learners." Writing Lab Newsletter 16 (May–June 1992): 6–8.
Learning disabled students—who are of average intelligence but have perceptual or processing problems—require a bit more creativity from tutors. First, find the student's strongest perceptual channel—visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Many LD students know their best learning style or channel, so ask first. For visual learners, use charts, diagrams, colors, and gestures; for auditory learners, read aloud, use the tape recorder, and encourage the student to record classes and assignments; for kinesthetic learners, use physical objects and act out ideas. But don't be formulaic. Try a variety of approaches, use whatever works, and be patient.
Lerner, Neal. "Confessions of a First-Time Writing Center Director." The Writing Center Journal 21.1 (2000): 29–48.
Despite progress made since the 1981 CCCC resolution and the 1985 NWCA position statement on professional status for writing center directors, the quest for professionalism remains a dilemma. A review of three surveys of writing center directors reveals that the field continues to be split between the haves and the have-nots: those who have full-time or tenure track positions, and those who have part-time, contingent, or staff positions. While tenure track status may not be the goal of all involved in writing center work, and while some argue that the pursuit of professional status may have more risks than benefits, a two-tiered system of writing center directors harms the field as a whole. Ultimately, writing center directors who "make it" to positions of institutional stability and leverage should work not only to transform their own institutions, but also to prevent this "haves and have-nots" structure of writing center directors for the good of writing centers themselves. Winner of the IWCA Outstanding Scholarship Award.
Lunsford, Andrea. "Collaboration, Control, and the Idea of a Writing Center." Writing Center Journal 12 (1991): 3–10.
The idea of collaboration is based on a view of knowledge as socially constructed. Collaboration threatens the idea of the writing center as a storehouse of knowledge that prescribes skills and strategies to individual learners, given that the storehouse approach incorporates the assumption that knowledge is external and accessible. Collaboration also threatens the idea of the center as a writer's garret because that approach incorporates the assumption that knowledge is interior, within the student. Both kinds of centers do good work, but we must acknowledge the superiority of collaboration as a model of real-world writing, as an aid in problem-solving and to critical thinking, and as a route to excellence. Collaborative centers are difficult to create because they require appropriate tasks and group cooperation. But the need to help students learn to work with others is paramount. Collaborative centers engage students not only in solving problems set by teachers but in identifying problems for themselves, negotiating issues of control, and valuing diversity.
Maxwell, Martha, ed. When Tutor Meets Student. 2nd ed. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1994.
Fifty-four stories of tutoring encounters by student writing tutors at UC Berkeley. The tutors describe tutoring sessions and the process of defining their roles, dealing with cultural diversity and gender difference, and learning from their experiences. The stories, addressed to new tutors, reveal successes and failures, insights, techniques, personal dilemmas, and awkward situations (plagiarism, unwanted advances, problems with a teacher, tutor dependency). Includes, in appendices, descriptions of and paperwork for the UC Berkeley peer-tutoring center.
Meyer, Emily, and Louise Z. Smith. The Practical Tutor. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987.
Experienced writers who serve as tutors may take for granted the very skills most difficult for inexperienced writers to attain. The fourteen chapters of this textbook lead tutors through sets of problems and strategies for dealing with them: establishing a tutorial dialogue that maintains trust; dealing with anger and frustration; avoiding evaluation; using open-ended questions; promoting fluency through heuristics; deepening critical analysis and concept formation; using teachers' comments productively during revision; reclaiming the writer's authority over the text; addressing sentence-level errors, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, and dialect-based errors; helping writers to develop reading strategies; and tutoring with computers. Writing assignments, suggestions for class activities, and a bibliography end each chapter.
Mullin, Joan, and Ray Wallace, eds. Intersections: Theory-Practice in the Writing Center. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1994.
Fifteen essays explore and critique composition theories, particularly those concerning collaboration, as they have been and might be applied to writing-center practices. Included are Eric Hobson, "Writing Center Practice Often Counters Its Theory. So What?"; Sallyanne Fitzgerald, "Collaborative Learning and Whole Language Theory"; Christina Murphy, "The Writing Center and Social Constructionist Theory"; Alice Gillan, "Collaborative Learning Theory and Peer Tutoring Practice"; Julie Neff, "Learning Disabilities and the Writing Center"; Muriel Harris, "Individualized Instruction in Writing Centers: Attending to Cross-Cultural Differences"; Jay Jacoby, " 'The Use of Force': Medical Ethics and Center Practice"; and Mary Abascal-Hildegrand, "Tutor and Student Relations: Applying Gadamer's Notions of Translation."
Murphy, Christina, and Joe Law, eds. Landmark Essays on Writing Centers. Davis, Calif.: Hermagoras Press, 1995.
Writing centers have had a place in American universities since the 1930s, and their methods have generally followed the theoretical directions of the profession as a whole. Twenty-one previously published essays examine the history, theory, and praxis of writing centers, including Lou Kelly, "One-on-One, Iowa City Style: Fifty Years of Individualized Writing Instruction"; Muriel Harris, "What's Up and What's In: Trends and Traditions in Writing Centers"; Gary Olson and Evelyn Ashton-Jones, "Writing Center Directors: The Search for Professional Status"; Judith Summerfield, "Writing Centers: A Long View"; Stephen North, "The Idea of a Writing Center"; Kenneth Bruffee, "Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind'" (see ); Lisa Ede, "Writing as a Social Process: A Theoretical Foundation for Writing Centers?"; Andrea Lunsford, "Collaboration, Control, and the Idea of a Writing Center" (see ); Marilyn Cooper, "Really Useful Knowledge: A Cultural Studies Agenda for Writing Centers"; Harvey Kail and John Trimbur, "The Politics of Peer Tutoring"; and Meg Woolbright, "The Politics of Tutoring: Feminism within the Patriarchy."
Murphy, Christina, Joe Law, and Steve Sherwood. Writing Centers: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996.
Part of a series of bibliographies and indexes in Education. Brief annotations accompany more than fourteen hundred entries in such categories as History, Program Descriptions, Professional Concerns, Writing Center Theory, Writing across the Curriculum, and Tutoring.
See: Marie Nelson, At the Point of Need .
Nelson, Jane and Kathy Evertz. The Politics of Writing Centers. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann/Boynton-Cook, 2001.
Divided into two parts, "The Politics of Conversation," and "The Politics of Location," this collection of twelve essays examines conflict in writing center politics, and points out opportunities and recommendations for change. Included are Peter Carino, "Writing Centers and Writing Programs: Local and Communal Politics"; Pat McQueeney, "What's in a Name?"; Carrie Shirley Leverenz, "Graduate Students in the Writing Center: Confronting the Cult of (Non)Expertise"; Carol Peterson Haviland, Carmen M. Fye, and
Richard Colby, "The Politics of Administrative and Physical Location"; Pamela B. Childers and James K. Upton, "Political Issues in Secondary School Writing Centers"; Eric Hobson and Kelly Lowe, "An Audit of the National Writing Centers Association's Growth"; and Christina Murphy and Joe Law, "The Disappearing Writing Center Within the Disappearing Academy: The Challenges and Consequences of Outsourcing in the Twenty-First Century." Winner of the IWCA Outstanding Scholarship Award.
North, Stephen M. "The Idea of a Writing Center." CE 46 (September 1984): 433–46. Rpt. in Graves .
English-department faculty have a false sense of what goes on in the writing center. This makes it difficult to dispel their notion of the center as a fix-it shop that deals with "special problems" in composition, corrects mechanical errors, and serves only poor writers. Such ideas created the skill-and-drill model that most writing centers have battled to escape. Writing centers attempt to produce better writers, not better writing, through a student-centered, process-oriented approach, which chiefly means talking to writers about writing. Teachers should not send students to the center—students must come when they are ready to talk about writing. Writing centers are gaining recognition, but institutional and faculty support leave much room for improvement.
Olson, Gary A., ed. Writing Centers: Theory and Administration. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1984.
Nineteen essays on theory, administration, and special concerns include Kenneth A. Bruffee, "Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind' " (see ); Stephen M. North, "Writing Center Research: Testing Our Assumptions"; Patrick Hartwell, "The Writing Center and the Paradoxes of Written-Down Speech"; Linda Bannister-Wills, "Developing a Peer Tutor Program"; and Alexander Friedlander, "Meeting the Needs of Foreign Students in the Writing Center."
Pemberton, Michael A. "Rethinking the WAC/Writing Center Connection." Writing Center Journal 15.2 (Spring 1995): 116–33.
The relationship between writing-across-the-curriculum programs and writing centers needs to be reconsidered because, despite the pedagogical focus they share, their epistemologies and assumptions about rhetorical and textual features differ significantly. The "pedagogy of the generic" common to writing centers—where tutors apply common principles to all academic texts and genres—may do a disservice to students in WAC programs, where writers are expected to follow discipline-specific practices. "Conscious myopia" and the "myth of disciplinarity" characterize the typical ways that WAC and writing centers work together, both of which allow tutors to sidestep the challenges of disciplinary discourse. Pemberton recommends two roles that writing centers can play to support WAC programs.
Rafoth, Ben, ed. A Tutor's Guide: Helping Writers One to One. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann/Boynton-Cook, 2000.
Fifteen essays offer experienced perspectives on dealing with problems in tutorial sessions. Each essay describes a particular problem, contextualizes it in writing center theory and practice, offers concrete suggestions for handling the problem, and then discusses counterarguments and complications. Each essay also includes an annotated list of further reading. Selections include William J. Macauley, Jr., "Setting the Agenda for the Next 30 Minutes"; Molly Wingate, "What Line? I Don't See Any Line"; Muriel Harris, "Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers"; Lea Masiello, "Style in the Writing Center: It's a Matter of Choice and Voice"; Ben Rafoth, "Helping Writers to Write Analytically"; Jennifer J. Ritter, "Recent Developments in Assisting ESL Writers"; Beth Rapp Young, "Can you Proofread This?"; and Mary Mortimore Dossin, "Using Others' Words: Quoting, Summarizing and Documenting Sources." The collection ends with six topics for staff discussion and reflection.
Silk, Bobbie Bayliss, ed. The Writing Center Resource Manual. Emmitsburg, Md.: National Writing Centers Association Press, 1998.
This collection of practical essays is designed for those starting or managing a writing center. Essays include Jeanne Simpson, "Assessing Needs, Identifying an Institutional Home, and Developing a Proposal"; Clinton Gardner, "Centering the Community College Writing Center"; Stuart Blythe, "Technology in the Writing Center: Strategies for Implementation and Maintenance"; Paula Gillespie and Jon Olson, "Tutor Training"; Anne E. Mullin, "Serving Clients with Learning Disabilities"; Joe Law, "Serving Faculty and Writing across the Curriculum"; and Neal Lerner, "Research in the Writing Center."
Simpson, Jeanne. "The Challenge of Innovation: Putting New Approaches into Practice." Writing Lab Newsletter 18 (September 1993): 1–3.
Writing centers face, like the rest of the academy, threats of budget cuts and calls for accountability. It would be a mistake to be defensive in this situation. Rather, we should see opportunities here. It is important to participate in the processes of institutional change. The growth of writing centers so far has come from steady work and innovation, not from revolution, a process to be continued in the new era. We must tell our stories better to all academic constituencies, connecting with institutional governance in ways that are presently not typical. Institutional service has not been seen as part of the career path for center directors, but it is the path of change.
Vandenberg, Peter. "Lessons of Inscription: Tutor Training and the 'Professional Conversation.'" The Writing Center Journal 19.2 (1999): 59–83.
The role of student tutors warrants careful consideration in writing center work. Because of the nature of writing center work, the "student" status of student tutors, and the view of the interaction between tutors and directors as "education," student tutors run the risk of perpetuating institutional and professional values in which authority and hierarchy are already inscribed. While student tutors may come to writing centers already understanding writing practices, they may not necessarily understand the academic institutional practices that use literacy to measure competence and establish hierarchy. Those who work in tutor training should be cautious not to engage student tutors in the replication of problematic models of professionalism.
Wolff, William C. "Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship on Writing Centers and Related Topics." Focuses, annually.
Comprehensive listing of items, all briefly annotated, on writing-
center issues as well as a wide range of theoretical and pedagogical concerns. Published annually.