If you could say anything to faculty about academic integrity…

Vol. 3, No. 2 (Fall 2021)

Stephanie Bell, Associate Professor, York University Writing Centre; co-founder, CWCR/RCCR

A clear-cut strategy for undermining the writing centre’s relationship with student writers is to become reporters, adjudicators, or punishers of plagiarism and cheating (Bell, 2018).

In its heavy-handed discourse around academic dishonesty, the institution draws a divide between itself and students. Students arrive on campuses to find themselves positioned as likely criminals, and their work is policed by AI that scans it for infractions. Ironically, the institution’s academic dishonesty rhetoric can so undermine the institution-student relationship that it fosters academically dishonest student behaviour (see Strayhorn, 2012). To fulfill their missions, writing centres must carefully navigate the issue of academic dishonesty and the institution-student divide it constructs.

However, it’s not always easy to do this dance. Writing centres are often called upon to supply resources — tutoring, workshops, online modules, courses — in the form of educational sanctions for students who’ve been found “guilty” of the “crime” of plagiarism. Refraining from participating in sanctions can be difficult when the pressure to do so comes from those who approve one’s budget and manage one’s existence.

Recent pressure from a YorkU senate committee has lead to discussions among writing centre faculty about the potential ramifications of supplying educational sanctions; whether we’d have control over their form and content; why the writing centre’s role is being dictated by senate rather than being self-constructed; and whether there are greater opportunities for us to reshape our institution’s approaches to academic dishonesty as it pertains to student writing.

The answer to the last question had us thinking about the fact that we want to be supporters rather than punishers of students. We want to be connecting with them while they’re not in trouble with policy, and the best way to reach them at that stage might be in our work with faculty. What do we want all faculty to know about academic integrity as it pertains to student writing. It turns out, I knew exactly what I want to say. It came into words quite easily. The question is why I’m not out there saying it more loudly.

Prompted by this exercise, I wrote and produced a series of videos with my writing partner in crime, Brian Hotson, and supplied a worksheet that includes the statement I drafted for faculty. I am gearing up to write a proposal for an internal teaching-release grant to produce more resources for student writers along these lines. Fingers crossed.

I’m interested in how you’ve been navigating the tension between maintaining a strong relationship with student writers while responding to the demands for educational sanctions from the administration. What would you want all faculty to know about academic integrity as it pertains to student writing? I’ve created a document here for your answers. You can read the comments from your colleagues, as well.


References

Bell, S. (2018). Addressing student plagiarism from the library learning commons. Information and Learning Science, 119(3-4), pp. 203-214. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-10-2017-0105

Strayhorn, T.L. (2012), College Students’ Sense of Belonging: A Key to Educational Success for All Students, Routledge, New York, NY.

A Short History of CWCA/ACCR: Fifteen years on

Vol. 3, No. 1 (Fall 2021)

Brian Hotson, CWCR/RCCR Editor

Introduction

Volume 1, Issue 1 Halifax Gazette, March 23, 1752

Although writing centres in Canada date to the mid-1960s (See Table 1) (Proctor, 2011, p. 418; Bromley, 2017, p. 35), writing tutoring and writing instruction, of course, didn’t begin with the first writing centres. Writing instruction has a progenitor dating to the first European colonizers in what is now called Canada (Halifax Gazette, 1752). Because the Canadian writing centre field is young, many of the key founders and figures in its development continue to add to its literature and practice. These writing centre practitioners in the past thirty years have created a significant body of work, including publications, repositories of information, modes of practice, national and regional associations and conferences, and proactive advocacy and social justice work. While there have been times in the past where shifts in writing centres in Canada have caused worries about centre funding and importance, writing centres will not disappear from  Canada’s  education field. In fact, writing centres will continue to grow in importance, as writing centres

are more vital in the Canadian context because Writing Centres are not “marginal” places of writing instruction as they may be viewed in the United States. In the absence of the universal composition requirement, the primary Canadian site for writing pedagogy is, unlike the American context, the Writing Centre. (Beard, 2009)

Writing centres in Canada are the fermentation ground for innovative theoretical and pedagogical work. Writing centres are entrenched in Canada’s educational institutions, as they provide a frame, model, and structure for a significant number of additional  academic supports within educational institutions. While the story of scholarly writing at the COVID turn as it relates to writing centres is yet to be written, there is confidence that writing centres will be viewed as a significant contributor to stabilizing virtual education in Canada.

Table 1 – Canadian writing centres/labs by establishing date

How it started

Prior to the 2000s, several writing-focused associations and organizations existed, such as the Canadian Association for the Study of Language and Learning (CASLL, aka Inkshed (1982-2015)) and the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing (CASDW, formerly the Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (CATTW)) founded in 1982 (About, n.d.). CWCA/ACCR past-president, Theresa Hyland, writes that the “grandmother” of CASDW and CWCA/ACCR is CASLL (Hyland, 2014, p. 12). Otherwise known as Inkshed, first officially and then affectionately, it began as a collaboration of Russ Hunt and James A. Reither, both of St. Thomas University in New Brunswick (Proctor, 2018).

Issue 1, page 1
Inkshed Newsletter, Issue 1, Page 1

The continuing legacy of Inkshed is the Inkshed Newsletter (1983-2015), also a brainchild of Reither and Hunt. These volumes remain a largely untapped resource of the development of writing theory and practice as well as of writing centres in Canada. I have created a searchable repository of the Inkshed newsletter (with permission of past newsletter editors, Russ Hunt, Margaret Proctor, and Roger Graves) for researchers to be able to search by keyword (B. Hotson, personal communication, June 3, 2021).

It is in the Inkshed Newsletter’s volumes that the first piece written specifically about writing centres in Canada (that I could locate) is found. Draft editing in the writing centre, written by Doug Brent, then writing centre director at the University of Calgary, was published in 1983 (Brent, 1983, p. 2-3). Here, Brent mentions the “rapidly proliferating institution of the writing centres” in Canada (p. 2), which began in earnest in the 1970s (see Table 1). Looking at the Inkshed Newsletter repository between 1983 and 2006, a number of writing centres related articles were published and events noted. In 1987, it’s recorded that Katherine McManus and Jacqueline Bowse (Memorial University Writing Centre) presented at CCCC’s on Evaluation in the writing centre: An unresolvable dilemma? (Inkshedders at CCCC, 1987, p. 2), with an excerpt of the presentation published in the newsletter as The dilemma of evaluation in the writing centre: A reading for two voices (Howse & McManus, 1987, p. 3-4), revealing a significant level of scholarship developing in writing centres studies. This is also the case in Jim Bell’s article, Small-scale evaluations for writing centres in these times of trouble (1996), a quantitative study of student evaluation of tutoring sessions in University of Northern British Columbia.

What is noteworthy is that at the inaugural AGM of CASLL in 1994, a suggested topic for their annual conference “The general crisis regarding writing centres” (Inaugural General Meeting of CASLL, 1994, p. 4) was proposed. Though this was not accepted, it shows a great deal of interest, developing scholarship, and a need for more singular focus of community in writing centres and the field of writing centre studies in Canada, as can be seen from the titles of the pieces being published. Writing centre professionals felt isolated and threatened by lack of funding and recognition within their institutions. Writing centre administrators, instructors, and tutors began to look for support and community beyond CASLL and CASDW, neither of which could provide for these specific needs (Hyland, 2014).

From STLHE SIG to independence 

CWCA/ACCR initial logo

It would be another 10 years until the beginning of a writing centre association. At the 2006 Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) conference in Toronto, a group of writing centre professionals met over lunch to discuss interest for the development of a writing centre association (Holock, 2007, p. 2; Canadian Writing Centres…, 2008; Landry, 2016, p. 38). This group, members of whom included Marion McKeown, Joanne André, Linda Bondoc-McLeod, Tyler Tokaryk, Martin Holock, among others (Holock, 2007, p. 2; Hotson, 2020), found that there was a great deal of enthusiasm and need for the development of an association as a community of writing centre practitioners. In 2007, CWCA/ACCR was founded and applied to become a special interest group of STLHE (Holock, 2007, p. 2; Hughes, 2007a, p. 15). The first AGM of CWCA/ACCR was held on June 18, 2008 at the STLHE conference in Edmonton. The new association met as a STLHE SIG at a meeting called “Canadian Writing Centres and Student Writing Special Interest Group (SIG) Annual General Meeting” (World of Learning, 2008, p. 4).

At this conference, there were four sessions specifically for writing centre professionals, Beyond the Five Paragraph Essay: From Assignation to Elaboration in Undergraduate Writing Practice; Exploring the Pros and Cons of Implementing Synchronous, Online Tutoring in Writing Centres; Addressing the Unique Needs of Graduate Writers; and Communication Café: A Proactive Approach to Engaging ESL Students. These sessions were presented by a mix of large and small universities and colleges―University of Toronto, University of Saskatchewan, University of Ottawa; Athabasca University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Durham College, and Ontario College of Art and Design (A World of Learning, 2008).

However, CWCA/ACCR did not thrive as a STLHE SIG for several reasons: 1) STLHE is a forum for teaching and learning administrators―there were very few sessions that related directly to the field of writing centres; 2) STLHE conference fees were (and remain) prohibitive for many; 3) STLHE would not allow, at first, for CWCA/ACCR to hold an AGM as a SIG; 4) No paper presentations or workshops were allowed within the SIG; all papers had to be presented to the conference generally, significantly lowering the possible numbers of conference papers on writing centres; 5) Many CWCA/ACCR members were also members of CASDW and CASLL, and the STLHE conference was held at different dates and locations to these associations, making the cost in time and money of attending both the Congress and STHLE conferences prohibitive; 6) A major sticking point was CWCA/ACCR’s attempts to develop their own web presence, as well as a scholarship, neither of which was supported to a great extent by STLHE. As a result of these issues, attendance by CWCA/ACCR’s members to the STLHE conferences steadily declined.

This was evidenced in 2012 when the CWCA/ACCR’s AGM was attended by only four members: three, Liv Marken, Brian Hotson, and Past-Chair Marion McKeown, attended in person, and CWCA/ACCR Chair, Linda Bondoc-McLeod, via video link. At this meeting, Hotson was elected Chair, Theresa Hyland Vice-Chair, and Bondoc-McLeod moved into the Past-Chairship. Hotson moved with the association’s approval to officially end CWCA/ACCR’s association with STLHE in June 2012 (B. Hotson, personal communication, July 5, 2012).

Web page from 1st CWCA/ACCR conference
Web page from 1st CWCA/ACCR conference

Part of the planning for CWCA/ACCR for 2013 was to reconstitute the association’s web presence, create social media accounts, and to hold a conference “that would specifically address the needs of the Canadian writing centre community and that would not be prohibitively expensive” (Hyland, 2014b, p. 12). This first conference was co-chaired by Laurie Waye (University of Victoria) and Hotson and was held in 2013 in University of Victoria. The conference was held just prior to the beginning of the Congress of the Humanities to coincide with the CASDW and CASLL conferences (the CASLL conference was held in Vancouver a few days after the CWCA/ACCR conference). The conference was a success and a bellwether of interest and desire for community among writing centre professionals. Hyland reported,

The results [of the conference] were phenomenal, over 100 participants for the first conference and 85 for the second. The one-day format was appreciated, which kept costs to a minimum, and the community had a genuine forum to discuss both practical matters and action research, as well as make connections…

The sheer numbers of attendees at subsequent conferences in 2014 reveals a continued desire for CWCA/ACCR as a national organization. With 120 members from across Canada and US, the association’s success is evident not only from its growing membership, but also from activity of the members and the interest of universities and colleges in the association nationally and internationally. (Hyland, 2014b, p. 12)

Looking forward by looking back

As a national body, CWCA/ACCR continues to develop as a centralizing hub for research and practice, especially in three areas: writing tutoring, professional writing centre administration, and writing instruction. CWCA/ACCR’s continued growth, especially in higher education, can have a reciprocal effect: the more active the association is, the more impactful the work of the association and its members can be. Table 2 provides a timeline of significant events of the development of the association.

Table 2 – Chairs and presidents of CWCA/ACCR with a timeline of events

CWCA/ACCR’s progenitor is now 15 years old. While this may seem a short period of time, it was quite difficult to track down key documents relating to CWCA/ACCR’s development. Early annual reports, website archives, meeting agenda, listserv conversation, memberships lists―a great deal of this is missing. As I began to look deeper into the development of CWCA/ACCR, a history appeared of key moments, important decisions, and of steps forward and back. The association began with a desire for community, which is nicely encapsulated by Hyland: “I need to stay close to my Writing Centre roots, and just hang out with others who have the same needs as I do and have met those practical needs in interesting and creative ways” (Hyland, 2014). Hyland is correct in her descriptions of the work of CWCA/ACCR and its many members―creating and working in the literature of writing centre and writing studies fields and developing the administrative practices that make the creating and working succeed, while keeping in contact with our diverse and expansive community. The development of position statements and virtual conferences shows the continued growth and maturity as well as adaptability of the association.


References

About. (n.d.). Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing / Association Canadienne de Rédactologie. Retrieved from https://casdw-acr.ca/about/

About us. (2006). Capilano College Writing Centre. https://web.archive.org/web/20060210024329/http://www.capcollege.bc.ca/services/learning-support/writing-centre.html

Agreement between SMUFU and Saint Mary’s University. (2004). Saint Mary’s University Archives. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AliCUpGQb3T9YoyvCfl1VofcMFf-Jq68/view?usp=sharing

Artiss, P. (1988).  English Department, Memorial University. Inkshed: Newsletter of the Canadian Association for the Study of Writing and Reading, 7(2 March), 5.

Barbour, F. A. (1898). English composition in the high school. The School Review, 6(7), 500–513.

Beard, D. (2009) Writing Across the Northern Border: The Study of Writing and Discourse in Canada. Retrieved from https://attwblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/writing-across-the-northern-border-the-study-of-writing-and-discourse-in-canada/

Bell, J. (1996). Small-Scale Evaluations for Writing Centres in These Times of Trouble. Inkshed, 14(7).

Bell, S., & Hubert, H. (1996). University College of the Cariboo National Writing Centre Survey. Inkshed Newsletter, 16(6)

Besner, N., Huff, R., & McIntyre, M. (1988).  Writing program, University Of Winnipeg. Inkshed: Newsletter of the Canadian Association for the Study of Writing and Reading, 7(2 March),  6-10

Brandon University Graduate Calendar 2005-2006. (2005). https://doi.org/10.3138/flor.20.019

Brent, D. (1983). Draft editing in the writing centre. W&R/T&P: A Canadian newsletter devoted to writing and reading theory and practice, 2(5 September), 3-4. https://casdwacr.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/inkshednewsletter2-5-1983-09.pdf

Brooks, K. (2006). National culture and first-year English curriculum: A historical study of composition in Canadian Universities. In R. Graves & H. Graves (Eds) Writing centres, writing seminars, writing culture: Writing instruction in Anglo-Canadian universities (pp. 95-199). Inkshed Publications; Winnipeg.

Bromley, P. (2017). Locating Canadian Writing Centres: An Empirical Investigation. Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing/Rédactologie, 27, 24–41. Retrieved from http://journals.sfu.ca/cjsdw

Buck, G. (1909). “Make-believe grammar.” The School Review, 17(1), 21–33.

Canadian Writing Centres Association Annual Report. (2008). Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/17K4KXrBZerg0-C-wxxFQZd1Dj402K0dJ/view?usp=sharing

Capilano College. (2004). Writing Centre. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20040831054643/http://io.uwinnipeg.ca/~cawtutor/Writing_Centres/British_Columbia.html

Carino, P. (1995). Early Writing Centers: Toward a History. The Writing Center Journal, 15(2), 103–115.

Centre for Writing-Intensive Learning. (2002). Simon Fraser University. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20030218101653/http://www.sfu.ca/writing-centre/

Centre points students in the “‘Write’” direction. (1991, May 22). The Chilliwack Progress, p. 17. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/82659663/22-may-1991-chilliwack-progress/

Dear Inkshedders. (2006). LISTSERV 16.0 – CASLL-L Archives. Retrieved from https://listserv.utoronto.ca/cgi-bin/wa?A3=ind0601&L=CASLL-L&E=8bit&P=127273&B=–&T=text%2Fplain; charset=iso-8859-1&header=1

Giltrow, J. (2016). Writing at the Centre: A Sketch of the Canadian History. Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing/Rédactologie Volume, 26, 11–24. https://doi.org/10.31468/cjsdwr.48

Halifax Gazette – Canada’s First Newspaper (2021). Nova Scotia Archives. Retrieved from https://archives.novascotia.ca/gazette/#gazette

Holock, M. (2007). Message from the chair… CWCA/ACCR Newsletter, 1(2), 2

Hotson, B. (2020, Summer). “I knew right away I found my niche”: Celebrating the work of Linda McCloud-Bondoc. CWCR/RCCR, 1(1 Summer) Retrieved from https://cwcaaccr.com/2020/08/11/work-of-linda-mccloud-bondoc/

Howse, J, & McManus, K. (1987). The dilemma of evaluation in the writing centre: A reading for two voices, Inkshed: Newsletter of the Canadian Association for the Study of Writing and Reading, 6(4), 3-4

Hughes, J. C. (2007a). President’s Report. Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 46(Spring 2007), 15. Retrieved from http://www.stlhe.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/STLHE-Newsletter-46-2007-Summer.pdf

Hughes, J. C. (2007b). One approach to student engagement: Strengthening the nexus between research, teaching and learning. Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 45, 1–12, 7.

Hyland, T. (2014). An Open Letter: Why There are Three Conferences. Inkshed Online Newsletter, (June). 11-13

Kraglund-Gauthier, W. (2006). So, Just How Old are Writing Centres in Canada? Inkshed: Newsletter of the Canadian Association for the Study of Language and Learning, 23(1), 18–19.

McCabe, S. (2016, March 14). UBC Writing Centre to shut down tutorial services. The Ubyssey. Retrieved from https://www.ubyssey.ca/news/ubc-writing-centre-to-shut-down-tutorial-services/

McCabe, S. (2016, March 31). University to find new place for Writing Centre tutorial services. The Ubyssey. Retrieved from https://www.ubyssey.ca/news/university-to-find-new-place-for-writing-centre-tutorial-services/

Minutes of the Inaugural General Meeting of CASLL. (1994). Inkshed: Newsletter of the Canadian Association for the Study of Language and Learning, 12(5).

Inkshedders at CCCC, Atlanta (19-21 March 1987). (1987). Inkshed: Newsletter of the Canadian Association for the Study of Writing and Reading, 6(1 February), 2.

The Meighen Centre. (2002). Mount Allison University. Retrieved August 2, 2021, from https://web.archive.org/web/20020817044806/http://www.mta.ca/Research/meighen/services.html

Mendelsohn, S. (n.d.). Writing Center’s Founding Dates. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1cASgAyUfdl0gCA3iBKzPF3oPajpkcbMm9Zl2eR28i90/edit#gid=1498639296

North, S. M. (1984). The Idea of a Writing Center. College English, 46(5), 433. https://doi.org/10.2307/377047

Organization and Use of a Writing Laboratory: The Report of Workshop No. 9. (1967). In College Composition and Communication (Vol. 2). Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/354618

Paré, A. (1988). Centre & For-the Study and Teaching Of Writing, McGill University. Inkshed: Newsletter of the Canadian Association for the Study of Writing and Reading, 7(2 March), 3-4.

Procter, M (2011). Talking the talk and walking the walk: Establishing the academic aole of writing centres. In D. Starke-Meyerring, A. Paré, N. Artemeva, M. Horne, & L. Yousoubova (Eds.), Writing in Knowledge Societies (pp. 415-439). https://doi.org/10.37514/per-b.2011.2379

Rehner, J. (1995). What Happens After You Say, “Please Go to the Writing Centre,” Inkshed, 13(3).

Rosengarten, H. (2019). The UBC Writing Centre, 1992-2015. Retrieved May 23, 2021, from UBC Legacies website: https://legacies.alumni.ubc.ca/the-ubc-writing-centre-1992-2015/ (pdf)

Sheese, R., Spencer, J., Rehner, J., Greenwald, T., & Rosendal, P. (2006). Faculty of Arts for Academic Writing: York University, Toronto. In R. Graves & H. Graves (Eds.), Writing centres, writing seminars, writing culture: Writing instruction in Anglo-Canadian universities (pp. 255–272). Winnipeg: Inkshed Publications.

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Rosengarten, H. (2019). The UBC Writing Centre, 1992-2015. Retrieved May 23, 2021, from UBC Legacies website: https://legacies.alumni.ubc.ca/the-ubc-writing-centre-1992-2015/ (pdf)

Sheese, R., Spencer, J., Rehner, J., Greenwald, T., & Rosendal, P. (2006). Faculty of Arts for Academic Writing: York University, Toronto. In R. Graves & H. Graves (Eds.), Writing Centres, Writing Seminars, Writing Culture: Writing Instruction in Anglo-Canadian Universities (pp. 255–272). Winnipeg: Inkshed Publications.

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Wilson, S. (2007). Campus Saint-Jean’s bilingual writing centre: A portal to multiple cultures and cosmopolitanism citizenship. CWCA/ACCR Newsletter, 1(2), 9-12

A World of Learning: STLHE 2008 Annual Conference. (2008). Windsor: Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Yalden, J. (1984). CALS at Carleton. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?q=%22writing+tutorial+service%22&id=ED264717

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Centre Spotlight: The ECP Tutoring Centre

Vol. 2, No. 3 (Winter 2021)
Stephanie Bell, CWCR/RCCR Co-Editor


Editor’s Introduction

The CWCR/RCCR’s Centre Spotlight series showcases the diversity of Canadian centres of writing support across education institutions. Beginning with Kristen Welbourn’s exposé on one of Nova Scotia’s first and only high school writing centres, this series takes a snapshot of our community today and prompts us to ask questions about the historical forces that have shaped its development.

This Centre Spotlight casts light on a tutoring centre embedded within the writing-in-the-disciplines program founded by Robert Irish in 1995: the Engineering Communication Program or ECP. Interestingly, the ECP originated, in part, from a Writing Centre (see: Weiss, Irish, Chong, & Wilkinson, 2019). In this way, it may be considered a model of success in terms of the vision that Canadian leaders in writing studies had when they turned away from the American trend toward First-Year Composition.

P. Weiss, R. K. Irish, A. Chong, & L. Wilkinson, (2019), We Have Changed: Reflections on 20+ Years of Teaching Communication in Engineering. 2019 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (ProComm). pp. 286-287. doi: 10.1109/ProComm.2019.00064

Continue reading “Centre Spotlight: The ECP Tutoring Centre”

BCWCA “Director’s Day Out”: Meaningful Collaboration Online

Screenshot of collaborative Padlet.

Vol. 2, No. 1 (Winter 2021)


While the pivot to a remote environment has created significant disconnection and isolation, it has also opened unexpected and creative possibilities for collaboration. Our boundaries are no longer so firmly institutional or geographical.

Previously, our British Columbia Writing Centres Association’s (BCWCA) “Director’s Day Out” events were planned and hosted by one institution, and often at what was deemed to be a more central geographical location. 2020’s virtual event was necessitated by pandemic restrictions and made possible by our increased familiarity with collaborative writing tools. Continue reading “BCWCA “Director’s Day Out”: Meaningful Collaboration Online”

Honest Discussions in Graduate Writing Cafés

Visual representation of the program described in the text.

Vol. 2, No. 4 (Fall 2020)
by Keith O’Regan

Keith O’Regan is the Graduate Writing Specialist at the York University Writing Centre. He has published on disparate fields such as Post-Graduate Writing Education, Film and Aesthetic Theory, and the Poetics of Escapism. His monograph, a comparative analysis of the poetic and theatrical work of Bertolt Brecht and William Blake will be published with Brill in the Spring of 2021.


Whether it be in the nature of the workshops offered, the limitations of a typical 60-minute appointment, or in the attention to the concrete tasks associated with short essays, current forms of writing centre support are not always best attuned to the needs of graduate student writers working on longer form projects  such as masters’ theses or doctoral dissertations.

With increasingly stretched supervisory faculty, the writing mentorship graduate students receive beyond the writing centre can be limited, slow and delayed. This mentorship is sometimes structured as top-down paternalistic programs often organized around bureaucratic or financial incentives. Continue reading “Honest Discussions in Graduate Writing Cafés”

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 19, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson

Over the previous two posts, our colleagues spoke to the adaptation and changes they’ve made due to COVID-19. In this third instalment, writing centres from northern Manitoba, Québec, Ontario, and Alberta speak to their experiences.

If you have a story you want to tell about your experience responding to COIVD-19, please send 2-3 paragraphs to cwcr.rccr@gmail.com. Enter “COVID-19 response” in the subject line. Thanks.
Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 19, 2020”

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 18, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 7 (Winter 2020)

From the previous post, there are common themes and processes centres are following. What is apparent is the ability to adapt and pull together programming quickly. With so much uncertainty, we’re all planning for the best while looking at all the unknowns.

We asked twenty writing centres from coast to coast to coast to provide a short description of their centre’s response to COVID-19. We will publish these responses in parts by the day they were received, from March 17th to March 19th.

Below is a snapshot of our colleagues’ writing centres from March 18, 2020. Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 18, 2020”

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 17, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 6 (Winter 2020)

As Heraclitus continually reminds us, everything changes, constantly, but the tempo and severity of change from COVID-19 has overwhelmed and challenged us all in our writing centres. We wondered how other institutions around the country are coping with the fallout from COVID-19.

We asked twenty writing centres from coast to coast to coast to provide a short description of their centre’s response to COVID-19. We will publish these responses in parts by the day they were received, from March 17th to March 19th.

Below is a snapshot of our colleagues’ writing centres from March 17, 2020. Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 17, 2020”

A deeper understanding of writing: A reflection on advocacy

GIF of Stephanie Bell saying cheers with her coffee mug.

Vol. 1, No. 5 (Winter 2020)
By Stephanie Bell, Co-editor, CWCR/RCCR

With guest editor,
Holly Salmon, CWCA/ACCR board member, Coordinator and Instructor, Learning Centre Instructor, English Department, Douglas College


How do you describe the role of writing centres in higher education? I find that my efforts to articulate a narrative that moves beyond descriptions of programming and pedagogy are centred on advocacy and education about the nature of writing. What is good writing? This question has high stakes for higher education, and writing specialists located in writing centres have the expertise required to shape the answer. Continue reading “A deeper understanding of writing: A reflection on advocacy”

How Ryerson is leading Canadian universities in multimodal writing support

Animated GIF that reads "creators welcome"

By Stephanie Bell & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 4 (Winter 2020)

An interview with John Hannah and Tesni Ellis from Ryerson University’s Student Affairs Special Projects & Storytelling team


Despite a dramatic rise of plug-and-play applications for producing and publishing multimodal web content, their migration into higher education classrooms has been slow. Likewise, support from Canada’s writing centres has remained fixed on traditional genres of writing, such as the research paper, lab report, and literature review. While researching for our forthcoming book on the future of multimodal digital writing support for students by Canadian writing centres/programs, we’ve been unable to find many programs of tutoring multimodal writing and production in university writing centre contexts. A noteworthy outlier is the Multiliteracy Support Appointments program listed on Ryerson’s Writing Support website.

We contacted John Hannah and Tesni Ellis at Ryerson to chat about their multimedia supports. John is Director, Special Projects in Student Affairs and former director of the Writing Centre, English Language support, and Graduate Student Support. Tesni is Coordinator, Student Affairs Storytelling within Student Affairs, and a former Writing Consultant at Ryerson’s Writing Centre herself.


Stephanie: Hi John and Tesni – thanks for agreeing to talk with us. Given that there seems to be slow uptake on this front, we’re interested in how your program got started. Can you tell us that story?  Continue reading “How Ryerson is leading Canadian universities in multimodal writing support”