Monday, October 31, 2005

A Few More IWCA/NCPTW Conference Thoughts


Michele Eodice shared some of her IWCA/NCPTW conference thoughts and photos last week in the WCJ blog, and the conference onversation on WCenter--particularly about Victor Villanueva's electrifying keynote--has been rich. I wanted to add a few thoughts/observations in today's blog entry.

On the whole, I thought the conference was meticulously planned, invigorating, and, of course, fun. One of my favorite features was the research fair, one during breakfast and one during lunch. These were terrific opportunities for writing center folks to show off their research while the rest of us walked around talking and listening with our mouths full. I wished I had had a chance to see every one of the posters, but the crowds around several of them were simply too large! I did see, however, research on gender and writing centers, on attitudes toward the writing center, on patterns of interaction when tutor and student are in front of a computer, on the concept of community and the writing center, and several others. Good stuff.

I also want to offer praise for the first featured session. Chris Anson and Paula Gillespie offered their views and experiences on what "globalization" of education, generally, and our writing centers, specifically, might mean.

Here's what else I saw:
--Brad Peters, Rebecca Rine, and Harvey Kail described how each uses the written word to communicate with faculty (Rine) and administration (Peters) or as the focus of staff education (Kail).
--Matt Berg, Kyle Oliver, and Jason Rozumalski of the Univ of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Fellows program described their individual research into practice, whether using metaphors to reach science students in humanities classes (Kyle), the efficacy of online tutoring (Matt), or the muddiness of higher-order/lower-order distinctions (Jason). Awesome research by talented undergrads.
--Disciplinary and intellectual boundaries were complicated when Deb Burns and Kathryn Nielsen-Dube of Merrimack College described their writing fellows experiences with students from business-oriented classes. And then Carol-Ann Farkas of the Mass College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (my previous employer!) and Susan Mueller of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy presented their thoughts on working in the unique (and sometimes, odd) environment of pharmacy education.
--Beth Boquet, Michele Eodice, and Anne Ellen Geller offered a rotating workshop on strategies they and their staffs use as learning situations for each other and for helping students. I made a cool Cootie Catcher. Thanks, Michele!
--Dan Gallegher and Lori Salem of Temple University offered the extensive work they've done on statistically analyzing students at their university who they can target for writing center services. The math nerd in me was allowed to come out! Thanks, Lori and Dan!

Finally, the conference was wrapped up by a featured session with Lil Brannon of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Derek Owens of St. John's University, and Dan Mahala of the Univ of Missouri-KC. They offered a terrific balance of history, vision, and caution as writing centers move into the challenges of the 21st century.

Then, of course, there were the chance encounters with old friends, the Summer Institute reunion, the coffee breaks to plan future projects, the fine eating that downtown Minneapolis had to offer. I have to say that I came to the conference feeling somewhat adrift in my professional life as I try to figure out just what it is that I want to do from this point on, but I came away renewed with confidence about the importance and opportunity of writing center work. Thanks to all who contributed to that effect.

Finally, the added spooky bonus for Halloween at the start of this entry is a picture of the front door of my house, fully decorated by my 7-year-old daughter, Hannah.

Neal

5 Comments:

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Having worked in a writing center as a student tutor, I understand the issues and frustrations felt by both the business students and the tutors during sessions.

 
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