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.

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”

Writing centres in context: The quick and dirty

Vol. 2, No. 1 (Fall 2020)
Stephanie Bell, Co-Editor, CWCR/RCCR

As this new academic year begins, I find myself putting writing centre praxis into historical context for the team of graduate writing instructors joining us at York. Writing Centre studies is a field of practice with a contentious history and a rich body of research. Because the pedagogical approaches we choose to put into practice are shaped by these discourses, it is useful for all writing centre tutors to know this context. So, in the spirit of orientation at the outset of this new year, I am providing here a “quick and dirty” accounting of this history.

Our current conception of writing centres began to emerge in the 1980s when writing centre professionals set about constructing arguments that writing centres are a part of regular, normative scholarly life. These arguments involve theorizations of writing centres as places in which writers are nurtured, offered access to academic discourse and academic identities, and invited to engage in collaborative talk about writing (Dinitz & Kiedaisch, p. 63). Continue reading “Writing centres in context: The quick and dirty”