Trying to capture the full story: Making a post-tutoring session survey

Volume 2, No. 1 Summer 2021
by Emma Sylvester

Emma Sylvester is Coordinator, Writing Centre and Academic Communications, Saint Mary’s University.

Introduction

As Writing Centre (WC) practitioners, how do we know that students are actually benefitting from our work? Plenty of research has shown that WC use improves students’ grades (e.g., Driscoll, 2015; Thompson, 2006; Trosset et al., 2019, Dansereau, et al., 2020), but how do I know that translates to my own unique institution or to the session I had with a tutee this morning? As a tutor, the immediate feedback of seeing a student’s “lightbulb moment” or hearing their expressions of gratitude gives me some indication that I’m doing something right. Unfortunately, these experiences aren’t reliable or comprehensive indicators of the benefits of the WC, and they don’t tell me about the student’s full emotional experience in session or their long-term learning. Further, in the post-covid era, ripe with asynchronous sessions and cameras left off, these moments are potentially fewer and farther between.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Zt4bRIYDrOHFxtgO8iRzuJAZ4DyUp5YLbsA4oAWTrY0/edit

Post-session surveys are widely used across WCs not only to learn about how students value writing tutorials, but also to inform program development, assess and refine tutor practice, collect data for study and publication, and even to justify the existence of the centres themselves (Bromley et al., 2013). The need to collect, analyse, and apply data related to students’ experience in session is obvious and inherent in the ongoing development of WC practice, but taking a rigorous approach to this process is often forgotten amidst other seemingly more important (and let’s just say it, more interesting) work.

Continue reading “Trying to capture the full story: Making a post-tutoring session survey”

There will be no switch flipping in my future: A look at post-COVID writing centres

Photo of a light switch

Vol 2., No. 7 (Spring 2021)
Julia Lane, Phd, Writing Services Coordinator, Student Learning Commons


Early in the pandemic, Kate Elliott, a Graduate Writing Facilitator with the SFU Student Learning Commons, wrote Maintaining Social Cohesion in a Time of Social Distancing, a blog post which she generously allowed me to contribute to. The post was about the opportunities that this moment of seeming isolation presents to get creative about supporting connectivity through virtual means.

Here I am over a year later reflecting once again on Kate’s incredible ability to focus on connectivity in the time of social/physical distancing within a week of everything shutting down the first time. We have been told to maintain distance from one another to keep each other safe, but that doesn’t mean that we can safely forego the social. It is clear that Kate’s emphasis on the ongoing need for social connection remains central. Throughout this past year, writing centres have been challenged to re-consider and re-imagine our roles in our wider institutions and to get creative with opportunities to support human connection—remotely—while we all experience ongoing crisis. Continue reading “There will be no switch flipping in my future: A look at post-COVID writing centres”

Pandemic Graduate Student Writing and Transition Support: Reflections and Predictions (Part 2)

Vol. 2, No. 6 (Spring 2021)
Liv Marken, Contributing Editor, CWCR/RCCR

Link to Part I


PART II: Accessibility and Transition

Last week, we heard from Jill McMillan, a Learning Specialist at University of Saskatchewan, and Nadine Fladd, a Writing and Multimodal Communication Specialist at the University of Waterloo. They talked about their pandemic year. Here, in part two, they share their thoughts on graduate student transition, and accessibility, particularly in regard to international students. Continue reading “Pandemic Graduate Student Writing and Transition Support: Reflections and Predictions (Part 2)”

Advocating for Accompliceship: An Interview with Neisha-Anne Green

CWCA 2020 logo

Vol 2., No. 10 (Spring 2021)
Vidya Natarajan, Writing Program Coordinator, King’s University College & CWCA/ACCR Conference Co-Chair


Her “Moving Beyond Alright” address, delivered at the 2017 IWCA conference in Chicago,  was one of the most stirring calls to righteous action that writing centre professionals had ever heard.  Neisha-Anne S. Green, carrying the responsibility of being the first Black person to deliver the annual conference keynote in the 34-year history of the IWCA, made a passionate case for “social and civic justice” in writing centres, and the active accompliceship of those in power towards those disenfranchised. In this year of racial reckoning, she has agreed to deliver the opening keynote at CWCA’s 2021 conference, “Transformative Inclusivity.” I could not be more thrilled. 

When we meet virtually, her warmth and passion flow right through and beyond the edges of the little Zoom window on my screen. I mean to ask her about the two striking paintings that flank the portraits on the wall behind her chair, but end up asking, instead, how she would like to be addressed—Professor Green, Neisha, Neisha-Anne? Continue reading “Advocating for Accompliceship: An Interview with Neisha-Anne Green”

Free-falling into the Digital Divide: Reading on smartphone in writing centres

Vol. 2., No. 6 (Winter 2021)
Brian Hotson, Co-Editor, CWCR/RCCR


Then students started saying that they didn’t need to hand in a printed copy of their papers; the instructor asked them to submit them electronically only. They weren’t getting hardcopies of their assignments from their instructors either; they were showing us their assignment instructions on their phones. I remember the all-staff training session where I said that we would allow students to use their devices to show us their assignments. There were protests and conversation, but we agreed that it was the right thing to do for our students. It was a fundamental change, and we all felt it. I developed guidance for the tutors and students. The students were happy with the change, and the tutors who protested adapted were happy the students were happy.

Of course, now this is quaint nostalgia. None of us has seen student work on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper since March 2020, and many of us won’t see one again until maybe September. Continue reading “Free-falling into the Digital Divide: Reading on smartphone in writing centres”

Confronting oppressive language in our tutoring practice: Some guiding thoughts

Vol. 2, No. 5. (Winter 2021)
By Roniksha Kumar

Roniksha Kumar is an undergraduate student and a Peer Tutor at the University of Waterloo Writing and Communication Centre. As an aspiring educator, she is committed to learning and applying Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practices in her work and everyday life.


Anti-oppressive writing goes beyond academics—it reflects the writer’s experiences, their colleagues, and those who do not have opportunities to express themselves. Oppression is intersectional, including, but not limited to, the marginalization of race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality and disability. A commitment to learn how intersectionalities of oppression present themselves in writing enhances a critical lens to view historic and existing power structures. Continue reading “Confronting oppressive language in our tutoring practice: Some guiding thoughts”

Black History Month: Black-Authored Resources for Writing Centres

Vol. 2, No. 4 (Winter 2021)
CWCR/ACCR Editorial Board


Canadian writing centre involvement
While Canada recognizes Black History Month, as Writing Centre professionals, it is our responsibility to address the gaps in our own education in February and beyond. Furthermore, we must confront the fact that these gaps were created intentionally to exclude learning about Black excellence, both historical and contemporary. It is our work to both name anti-Black racism as a force that has shaped our knowledge and our field, and to take up antiracist practices to re-shape our knowledge and our field. 

Many Black writers, thinkers, scholars, and educators have made and are continuing to make significant contributions to Writing Centres, both as places of practice and as spaces for theorizing. We are taking this opportunity to amplify this work and to acknowledge and thank our Black colleagues for their contributions, which have been made in environments that are too often exclusionary, hostile, racist, and traumatic. Continue reading “Black History Month: Black-Authored Resources for Writing Centres”

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”

Is it really worth it to write for a blog?

Image of woman at her computer

Vol. 2, No. 2 (Winter 2021)
Brian Hotson, Co-Editor, CWCR/RCCR

Brian Hotson is the director of Academic Learning Services at Saint Mary’s University. He is the current Co-Editor the Canadian Writing Centre Review / revue Canadienne des centres de rédaction (CWCR/RCCR), and past editor of the WLN blog, Connecting Writing Centers Across Borders.


You’ve just received an unsolicited e-mail to write a post for an academic blog. The blog looks interesting, and you’re considering replying. But you have questions

Blogging is growing, not waning, in importance for academic writers who are interested in testing and workshopping ideas, as well as finding collaborators and publishers. When used in combination with other media platforms, such as twitter, blogging can amplify a writer’s voice, audience reach, and provide a platform to promote ideas and concepts into their field and literature. Writers can use info graphics, gifs, and other multimodalities in addition to text, things often associated with academic journals. And, they are usually fairly quick to turn out. Continue reading “Is it really worth it to write for a blog?”

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”