Precarity and pluckiness: A message from in-coming CWCA/ACCR President, Stevie Bell

Vol. 4, No. 1 (Summer 2023)

Stevie Bell, President, CWCA/ACCR

Thanks to all for the warm welcome to the CWCA/ACCR’s presidency. I come to this position with humility, a readiness to serve the Canadian community of writing centre professionals, and immense gratitude for  the contributions of my fellow Board members. This community is near and dear to my heart. I’ve grown up in writing centres, starting my career as a peer tutor at Wilfrid Laurier’s Writing Centre back in 2004  before becoming an instructor at the University of Waterloo’s Writing Lab and English Language Proficiency Exam program as a graduate student. When I graduated from UW with a dissertation project centered on how student writers learn to engage with sources (often despite their course directors’ assignment designs and their institution’s policing of academic honesty), I was privileged to join the world of writing centres with some permanence at York University’s Writing Department. I attended the CWCA/ACCR’s first independent conference in Victoria and was eager to get involved a few years later in a leadership capacity as Digital Media Chair. Since then, I have committed countless evenings to this amazing organization working in service to my friends and colleagues across Canada. Continue reading “Precarity and pluckiness: A message from in-coming CWCA/ACCR President, Stevie Bell”

Announcement | CWCA/ACCR’s Forum on Writing Centres and ChatGPT (and other AI)

May 8, 2023
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT

Please join this open, participatory discussion about how writing centres are integrating, responding to, and guiding students and instructors on ChatGPT and similar large-language model (LLM) Artificial Intelligence.

Discussion Facilitators:
(Chair) Clare Bermingham, PhD
Director, Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo
President, CWCA/ACCR
Brian Hotson, MTS
Senior Manager, Program and Impact Evaluation, Dalhousie University
Michael Cournoyea, PhD
Instructor, Health Sciences Writing Centre, University of Toronto
Zoe Mukura, OCELT
Language Instructor, Saskatchewan Polytechnic


  1. Welcome
  2. ChatGPT & LLM AI Overview / Q&A
  3. Breakout session 1: Participants self-select based on topics
  4. Breakout session 2: Participants self-select based on topics
  5. Shareback / Q&A

Announcement | Get involved in the CWCA/ACCR!

Get Involved

CWCA/ACCR Board of Directors

Join the CWCA/ACCR in one of the many open board positions this year:

    • Vice President
    • Secretary
    • Francophone Representative
    • Membership chair
    • Digital Media Chair
    • Members-at-large (x2)

Position descriptions are available in the CWCA/ACCR’s bylaws. Different positions do have different time commitments. For the most part, you are free to make what you can of the opportunity. The board meets monthly for 90 minutes. Continue reading “Announcement | Get involved in the CWCA/ACCR!”

CWCA/ACCR Statement on corporate, automated, online tutoring tools

Approved by CWCA/ACCR Board of Directors: December, 2022.

Access an accessible PDF of the Statement on corporate, automated, online tutoring tools.


In recent years, members of the Canadian Writing Centres Association / Association canadienne des centres de rédaction (CWCA/ACCR) have noted an increase in the activity of producers of corporate, automated, online tutoring tools (CAOTTs) attempting to position themselves within higher education institutions in Canada. Many of these companies articulate such outcomes as improved writing skills, student retention, and student experience. The CWCA/ACCR shares and supports these goals, but we find that they can be far better achieved by institutional writing and learning centres within their local contexts.

Position of CWCA/ACCR

It is the position of the CWCA/ACCR that attempts to replace local, human writing tutoring and support with CAOTTs is a fundamental error. Further, any use of these tools as a supplement to writing services should be considered only with the support of and in consultation with writing centre professionals within the institution, informed by the literature of writing centre studies.

It is the position of the CWCA/ACCR that CAOTTs are not helpful or useful as a replacement for institution-based writing tutoring or instruction, whether online or in-person. CAOTTs are, in fact, a detriment to effective academic support for students, faculty, and their institutions, and CWCA/ACCR sees the use of CAOTTs as a form of social injustice.

Technological innovation

Writing centres have been at the forefront of the development and use of technology in higher education, beginning with computer-aided instruction (CAI) in the 1960s. The first dedicated CAI in a writing centre was at Michigan Technological University in 1977 (Palmquist, 2003, p. 396). Since then, writing centres have evolved to employ various technologies through the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s (See, for example, Burns, 1980; Coogan, 1995; Inman & Sewell, 2000; Wargo, 2018), including the Purdue Online Writing Lab, created  by Dr. Muriel Harris, godmother of writing centres in North America, and David Taylor in 1994 (OWL Fact Sheet, 2022). The COVID pandemic accelerated and expanded the use of technology in writing centres since 2020 (See, for example, Canadian writing centres respond, 2020; One year on…, 2021; Two years on…, 2022; Rempel, & Friesen, 2022; Wisniewski et al., 2020). Writing centres embrace and use technologies for supporting student writing when they add value to the experience for students, enrich learning, and do not pose a risk to students’ privacy or rights. Some CAOTTs may have limited usefulness for students when integrated into students’ writing processes within or alongside writing centres (Zhang et al., 2020); however, inaccuracies, algorithmic deficiencies, forms of social injustice, and other concerns, as discussed below, lead us to urge caution in their use.

Best practices

The following are best practices of the CWCA/ACCR—and of the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA)—from the literature on writing centres praxis and administration that are foundational to successful writing support. These foundational aspects of writing centres cannot be guaranteed when using a CAOTT, aspects that can only be carried out by local writing centres within institutions.

  • Tutors and instructors who work within writing centres should specifically reflect the demographic, ethnic, linguistic, and disciplinary diversity of the student population within that institution (CWCA/ACCR, 2021; IWCA, 2007, 2015).
  • Peer tutors should be selected to work in a writing centre based on performance in courses that require writing and should be endorsed by instructors (IWCA, 2007, 2015).
  • Tutors and instructors should receive appropriate, comprehensive, ongoing training via methods suitable to local context (CWCA/ACCR, 2021; IWCA, 2007, 2015).
  • Tutors and instructors should be evaluated by administrators of their institution and should receive feedback about the effectiveness of their work (IWCA, 2007, 2015).
  • Tutors and instructors should be encouraged to participate in professional development activities, including publication opportunities and participating in local, regional, national, and international conferences (CWCA/ACCR, 2021).
  • The writing centre should participate in academic and/or administrative program review processes within its own institution (CWCA/ACCR, 2021; IWCA, 2007, 2015).
  • Institutions and writing centres also have a duty and a responsibility to be accessible to all students (CWCA/ACCR, 2021). Many CAOTTs are only available to students over the age of 18 (Terms of use, 2022), and many students do not have access to technology, creating social injustice based on race and economic disparity (Gonzales, Calarco, & Lynch, 2018; Vogels et al., 2020).

Sociodigital justice

A significant aspect of the injustice of CAOTTs is the use of student data by CAOTT corporations (Bell & Hotson, 2022; Hotson & Bell, 2022; Zuboff, 2015). Students often have no choice or do not know they have choice when confronted with a request by a faculty member or institution to subscribe to an online support tool (e.g., Grammarly, Studiosity, Turnitin). Tools such as Grammarly track students’ internet use even when they are not completing work for their studies. The Grammarly browser plug-in “surveils and intervenes in their languaging practices across all contexts of online communication—from personal email to Facebook to comment forums—regardless of whether they’re writing for the purposes of the course or for personal or professional reasons” (Bell & Hotson, 2022). CAOTTs have the same practice: for example, the tutoring tool, Studiosity, collects students’ “year of study, date of birth, postcode, student status, entity/institution name, type of entity/institution (e.g., school, library, university), business address, details of sporting and other extracurricular commitments (if required to assist with scheduling)” (Privacy and cookies policy, 2022). They also reserve the right to change their user agreement at any time: “From time to time, Studiosity may vary unilaterally the terms or conditions on which it provides the Services” (Terms of use, 2022), without input from students, faculty, institutions, or government. These terms and activities, designed for financial gain, constitute “surveillance capitalism” (Zuboff, 2015).

When using CAOTTs, student writing, ideas, and opinions—their knowledge production through their writing—is held by a corporation outside students’ or their institutions’ purview. Corporations providing vital institutional services cannot be trusted to protect student data (For example, see CEO of exam monitoring software Proctorio apologises for posting student’s chat logs on Reddit (Zhou, 2020)). Regarding the use and protection of students’ knowledge production, Studiosity’s user agreement, for example, is vague:

The Receiving Party [Studiosity] shall only disclose such confidential information to those of its employees, agents and subcontractors who need to know it for the purpose of discharging the obligations of the Receiving Party under the Contract, and shall ensure that such employees, agents and subcontractors comply with the obligations set out in this clause as though they were a party to the Contract.

There is no definition of “agent” or “subcontractor,” whether these are employees of Studiosity or if they are separate corporations, entities, or individuals. While it is indicated that these agents and subcontractors adhere to Studiosity’s user agreement, who monitors these agents and subcontractors and their use of student data is not stipulated.

Governmental monitoring

Exposure of student work beyond the educational institution is especially fraught for international students in Canada whose education activities may be subject to monitoring by their home governments. (China: Government Threats…, 2019; Confucius Institute U.S. Center…, 2020). Foreign governments have an interest in the activities of students studying abroad, especially monitoring any activities in opposition to repressive and intolerant regimes (CBC News, 2019; Furstenberg, Prelec, & Heathershaw, 2020; Gil, 2017; Mandour, 2022; Marczak et al., 2018); Canadian institutions have a duty to protect the international students they recruit as community members, protection that CAOTTs are not mandated to provide and cannot ensure.

Student labour

Any replacement of local student labour with CAOTT labour is unacceptable to CWCA/ACCR members. Providing students with opportunities for employment is a significant aspect of Canadian writing centres within their institutions. This employment is important for students’ financial security. Also, student tutors are provided with important learning opportunities and experience, which CWCA/ACCR views as a vital aspect of the institutional work of writing centres, as tutors’ learning is connected to their local learning context and extended throughout their tenure in higher education outside the classroom (e.g., institutional experiential learning programs; opportunities for research, publication, and conference presentations, contributing to the field of writing centre studies). For some CWCA/ACCR member writing centres, student employment is a directive.

Outsourced writing centre labour may not follow federal and provincial labour codes, institution union agreements, institutional human resources policies and practices, or provide a living wage (Living Wage, 2022).


Bell, S., & Hotson, B. (2022). “A podcast would be fun !”: The fetishization of digital writing projects. Discourse and Writing/Rédactologie, 32, 4–31.

Burns, H. (1984). Recollections of first-generation computer-assisted prewriting. In W. Wresch (Ed.), The computer in composition instruction: A writer’s tool (pp. 15–33). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

CBC News. (19 February 2019). ‘China is your daddy’: Backlash against Tibetan student’s election prompts questions about foreign influence. Retrieved from

CWCA/ACCR position statement on writing centres in Canada. (2021). The Canadian Writing Centres Association / association canadienne des centres de rédaction. Retrieved from

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 17, 2020. (2020). Canadian Writing Centre Review revue Canadienne des centres de rédaction, 1(6 Winter 2020). Retrieved from

China: Government threats to academic freedom abroad. (2019). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from

Coogan, D. (1995). E-mail tutoring, a new way to do new work. Computers and Composition, 12, 171–-81.

“Confucius Institute U.S. center” designation as a foreign mission. (2020). U.S. Department of State. Retrieved from

Furstenberg, S., Prelec, T., & Heathershaw, J. (2020). The internationalization of universities and the repression of academic freedom. Freedom House. Retrieved from

Gil, J. (2017). Soft power and the worldwide promotion of Chinese language learning. Multilingual Matters.

Gonzales, A. L., Calarco, J. M., & Lynch, T. K. (2018). Technology problems and student achievement gaps: A validation and extension of the technology maintenance construct. Communication Research, August, 1-38.

Hewett, B. L., & DePew, K. E. (Eds.) (2015). Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction (B. L. Hewett & K. E. DePew, eds.).

Hotson, B., & Bell, S. (2022). Friends don’t let friends Studiosity (without reading the fine print), The Canadian Writing Centres Association / association canadienne des centres de rédaction, 4(1 Fall 2022).

Inman, J. A., & Sewell, D. N. (Eds.). (2000). Taking flight with OWLs: Examining electronic writing center work. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

IWCA position statement on two-year college writing centers. (2007, 2015). International Writing Centers Association. Retrieved from

Mandour, M. (2022). Transnational repression undermines academic freedom in Western universities. University of Minnesota. Retrieved from

Marczak, B., Scott-Railton, J., Senft, A.,  Razzak, B. A., & Deibert, R. (2018). The kingdom came to Canada: How Saudi-linked digital espionage reached Canadian soil. The Citizen Lab. Retrieved from

Living wage. (2022). United Nations. Retrieved from

OWL facts sheet. (2022). Purdue Online Writing Lab. Retrieved from

One year on: COVID snapshot of writing centres in Canada. (2021). The Canadian Writing Centres Association / association canadienne des centres de rédaction, 2(3 Spring 2021).

Palmquist, M. (2003). A brief history of computer support for writing centers and writing-across-the-curriculum programs. Computers and Composition, 20(4), 395–413.

Privacy and Cookies Policy. (2022). Studiosity. Retrieved from

Rempel , C., & Friesen, H. L. (2022). Benefits and challenges of Zoom tutoring during the Covid-19 pandemic. Discourse and Writing/Rédactologie, 32, 370-393.

Terms of use. (2022). Studiosity. Retrieved from

Two years on: COVID snapshot of writing centres in Canada – University of Alberta’s Centre for Writers. (2022). The Canadian Writing Centres Association / association canadienne des centres de rédaction, 3(3 Spring 2022).

Vogels, E., Perrin, A., Rainie, L., & Anderson, M. (2020). 53% of Americans say the internet has been essential: Americans with lower incomes are particularly likely to have concerns related to the digital divide and the digital “homework gap” (Vol. 30). Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Wargo, J. M. (2018). Writing with wearables? Young children’s intra-active authoring and the sounds of emplaced invention. Journal of Literacy Research, 50(4), 502-523.

Wisniewski, C., Regidor, M. C., Chason, L., Groundwater, E., Kranek, A., Mayne, D., & Middleton, L. (2020). Questioning assumptions about online tutoring. The Writing Center Journal, 38(1/2), 261-296.

Zhang, J., Zorluel Özer, H., & Bayazeed, R. (2020). Grammarly vs. face-to-face tutoring at the writing center: ESL student writers’ perceptions. Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, 17(2), 33-43.

Zhou, N. (1 July 2020). CEO of exam monitoring software Proctorio apologises for posting student’s chat logs on Reddit. The Guardian.

Zuboff, S. (2015). Big other: Surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization. Journal of Information Technology, 30(1), 75-89.

Commitment to Antiracism: CWCA/ACCR Statement of Commitment to Antiracism


The CWCA/ACCR Statement of Commitment to Antiracism is a living and active document. It will guide and inform the Board and its committees in all activities, such as strategic planning, conference organizing, resource creation, and membership recruitment. Following the statement’s publication on our website today in January 2022, the Board and the BIPOC Caucus will work together to implement an action plan and measures for tracking progress, for updating and revising the statement, and for supporting individual members and member schools in doing this critical work.

The Statement of Commitment to Antiracism is the result of significant cooperation and collaboration by various individuals and groups within CWCA/ACCR. The Statement was originally crafted out of a similar statement by the British Columbia Writing Centres Association (BCWCA). It was composed and revised over a period of approximately 12 months from January to December 2021, engaging Board members and general members of the organization.

Following the draft shared with members at the 2021 Annual General Meeting, racialized members of CWCA/ACCR formed the BIPOC Caucus and undertook the task of revising the Statement to make it more inclusive and to recognize the different roles that members have in doing this work. Their work has been instrumental, and CWCA/ACCR is indebted to these members for their commitment, vision, and labour. As a result of their work, the published Statement is more fully representative of our organization, and it details CWCA/ACCR’s commitments to and responsibilities for fostering and supporting antiracism in our organization and in member writing centres.

The CWCA/ACCR Statement of Commitment to Antiracism is the lens that will filter and focus all activities of our organization now and in the future. It reminds us that writing centre work is never neutral; that language is never standard; and that our practices of teaching, tutoring, and coaching must be equitable and informed by antiracism theories and practices to be effective. It impels us to examine our organizational culture, our membership, and our leadership, and to make intentional and sustaining changes to our systems and processes, and to our mentorship and leadership pathways.

I invite you to read the Statement of Commitment to Antiracism and consider how you can help move it from text to action:

  • What elements of this statement resonate with you?
  • As a current or future member of CWCA/ACCR, how can you participate in this work in your own writing centre/writing program? In your institution? In your teaching or research? In any of the initiatives or action items in the statement?
  • What support do you need from CWCA/ACCR to engage in antiracist research or practice?
  • What can you contribute to CWCA/ACCR’s efforts to transform this statement into action?

Please contact me if you wish to share your ideas, your interests, or your personal commitment. I look forward to joining with all our members in conversations about antiracism in CWCA/ACCR and in our member writing centres at the 2022 conference.

Clare Bermingham, PhD
President, CWCA/ACCR

Read the full CWCA/ACCR Statement of Commitment to Antiracism.

Announcement || Procrastination Avoidance Week, March 8-14, 2021

Julia Lane is Writing Services Coordinator at Simon Fraser University

We’d like to invite you to join in the pan-Canadian, collaborative, cross-institutional Procrastination Avoidance Week from March 8-14 2021, coinciding with National Procrastination Week.

Our concept is that we will host a week of shared programming and virtual support, with themes for each day. Our small committee including me and Ruth Silverman of Simon Fraser University, as well as Sandra Smith from the University of the Fraser Valley, have fleshed out this idea and produced this Google Doc that for everyone to participate. Please fill in the google doc by February 16th at midnight Pacific Time if your institution would like to join in the fun. Details are provided below about what we are looking for institutions to contribute. We hope that many institutions from across the country will participate. Continue reading “Announcement || Procrastination Avoidance Week, March 8-14, 2021”