Academic Exchange Quarterly     Winter 2014     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 18, Issue 4

Editorial: Issues and Trends in 21st Century Writing Centers

It has long been acknowledged that writing is a social act. Yet where, and more importantly how, centers for writing should – and do – exist remain uncertain, and in some instances, controversial. The contributors to this issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly work to delve into this matter with creative sapience.

In “Kairos and Statis in Writing Center Administration,” Erica Cirillo-McCarthy of Stanford University expounds on the issue of budgetary constraints, “braiding together” both kairos and statis theory to present a “pathway towards writing center sustainability.” Similarly, J.C. Lee, Nancy Caronia, and Diane Beltran discuss approaches and attitudes towards writing center outreach, particularly amid rampant misconceptions concerning writing centers’ offerings for both faculty and students. They contend that the university system as a whole will benefit from a new understanding of the writing center’s inherent mission.

It can readily be argued that peer tutors are, at their finest, cross-disciplinary. At their respective institutions, Nicole Caswell and Courtney Werner administered a survey to 122 tutor participants to learn more about how professional development opportunities would work to strengthen tutorly identities. Going a step further, “Using Archival Date to Examine Mandatory Visits” assesses how maintaining records of student visits fuels empirical research and suggests that required visits actually encourage writing center use. Similarly, in “Writing Well: Isn’t it about Time?” Antony Ricks of Alabama A&M University and Kim Roberts of Athens State University posit, “greater success in college writing is achieved when student writers receive feedback multiple times.” They reached their astute conclusions via a nine-month-long study conducted to determine methods of improving writing among upper-division university students.

The question of where writing centers could and should exist is examined in both Liliana Naydan, Joshua Kim, and Drake Misek’s “The Problem of Simulation in Video-Chat Tutoring,” and in Christopher Thurley’s “The Paperless Writing Center: The Effective Paradox.” Naydan bring the conversation into the virtual realm by addressing synchronous online tutorials. The authors argue the following: that “replicating face-to-face tutorials wrongly privileges approaches widely used in in-person consultations, denies [the] reality of online discourse, and ignores ways by which online tutoring can inform traditional writing center practice.” In his own work, Thurley seems to concur with the former’s findings by crafting an evaluative and analytical assessment which emphasizes the “importance of adaptation” in the modern writing center.

In building on the above queries of where the writing center “fits” and what trials it faces, I am pleased to announce that Academic Exchange Quarterly will again feature the topic titled “Writing Center Theory and Practice” in its Winter 2015 Issue. In addition to articles exploring theory, practice, and experience, submissions may also consider how writing center professionals cope with the eventuality of needing to expand their efforts in response to new economic, technological, and demographic challenges. I encourage you to submit a piece, and to share this call with colleagues. Please identify your submission with the keyword CENTER-2. Writing center directors and other administrators, professional staff, faculty tutors, and graduate students are welcome to submit. I am also very pleased to announce the upcoming Sound Instruction Writing Center Theory and Practice Book, to be published in Spring 2015.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Kellie A. Charron, M.A., Feature Editor
Instructor, English Department, Community College of Rhode Island
Editor: Sound Instruction Volume V

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