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Building Writing Center Assessments That Matter

Ellen Schendel and William J. Macauley, Jr.

Publication Year: 2012

No less than other divisions of the college or university, contemporary writing centers find themselves within a galaxy of competing questions and demands that relate to assessment—questions and demands that usually embed priorities from outside the purview of the writing center itself. Writing centers are used to certain kinds of assessment, both quantitative and qualitative, but are often unprepared to address larger institutional or societal issues. In Building Writing Center Assessments that Matter, Schendel and Macauley start from the kinds of assessment strengths already in place in writing centers, and they build a framework that can help writing centers satisfy local needs and put them in useful dialogue with the larger needs of their institutions, while staying rooted in writing assessment theory.

The authors begin from the position that tutoring writers is already an assessment activity, and that good assessment practice (rooted in the work of Adler-Kassner, O'Neill, Moore, and Huot) already reflects the values of writing center theory and practice. They offer examples of assessments developed in local contexts, and of how assessment data built within those contexts can powerfully inform decisions and shape the futures of local writing centers. With additional contributions by Neal Lerner, Brian Huot and Nicole Caswell, and with a strong commitment to honoring on-site local needs, the volume does not advocate a one-size-fits-all answer. But, like the modeling often used in a writing consultation, examples here illustrate how important assessment principles have been applied in a range of local contexts. Ultimately, Building Writing Assessments that Matter describes a theory stance toward assessment for writing centers that honors the uniqueness of the writing center context, and examples of assessment in action that are concrete, manageable, portable, and adaptable.

Published by: Utah State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. vii

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pp. xi-xii

Throughout the process of writing this book, we’ve been touched by the work of a number of scholars and the kindness of colleagues and loved ones whose contributions have been profound. Both of us have been influenced by the assessment work of Brian Huot and Neal Lerner, scholars whose thinking has permeated our own scholarship and assessment practices. ...

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Introduction - Yours, Mine, and Ours: Changing the Dynamics of Writing Center Assessment

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pp. xiii-xxiii

When we started this project, we had one idea in mind: to help our friends and colleagues make sense of and use assessment in their writing centers. We have been acting on this idea by providing a range of conference sessions and workshops over the past four years. ...

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1. The Development of Scholarship about Writing Center Assessment1

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pp. 1-24

After most of the writing center assessment workshops, sessions, and talks Ellen and I have done together, participants have shared their high levels of frustration with not finding scholarship to support assessing their writing centers. Coupled with the increasing assessment pressure that so many writing center directors (WCDs) are feeling,...

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2. Getting from Values to Assessable Outcomes

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pp. 25-56

Even while writing center directors (WCDs) usually know a great deal about what tutors and clients in their centers are doing and why, they can also worry that they don’t know enough about assessment to accurately represent that work. Writing center directors may worry that assessment won’t show the good work their centers do because assessments haven’t...

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3. Connecting Writing Center Assessment to Your Institution’s Mission

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pp. 57-81

Chapter 1 focused on looking inward to develop a strong sense of a writing center’s values, as a foundation for work in assessing that writing center. There is good reason, which I discussed in chapter 1, to build writing center assessment out of the values that inform that center. ...

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4. Moving from Others’ Values to Our Own: Adapting Assessable Outcomes from Professional Organizations and Other Programs on Your Campus

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pp. 82-105

...This process is rooted in serious, deliberate reflection on the work of your writing center to discover and articulate what is most valued and to pose questions that reveal your greatest concerns regarding your center’s work. Only then can you begin the long-term, recursive work of collecting and analyzing evidence,...

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Interchapter - Of Numbers and Stories: Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment Research in the Writing Center

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pp. 106-114

Assessment is always rhetorical. We typically think of our annual and/or assessment reports as highly political, value-laden documents and therefore important rhetorical texts. But Peggy O’Neill, Cindy Moore, and Brian Huot show us in A Guide to College Writing Assessment (2009) that devising and implementing an assessment are also important rhetorical activities ...

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5. Integrating Assessment into Your Center’s Other Work: Not Your Typical Methods Chapter

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pp. 115-136

Writing centers are busy—at times, even chaotic—places. Many offer drop-in support; many directors manage multiple satellite locations; and writing centers may offer in-center as well as other kinds of support around campus, such as fellows programs, writing workshops, OWLs, synchronous and asynchronous tutoring programs...

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6. Writing It Up and Using It

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pp. 137-161

The greatest challenge we face in writing assessment reports is the schizophrenic task of communicating with an audience that we aren’t sure is really listening and yet holds quite a bit of power in terms of how our future is supported with resources. We sometimes feel (or know) that the reports we write aren’t being read or used by anyone. At other times...

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Afterword: Translating Assessment

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pp. 162-170

While Ellen and Bill graciously asked us to read and respond to this volume, we must confess that our response does not attempt to evaluate or improve upon the volume. One strong set of impressions throughout the reading of the volume and the drafting of the response revolves around the crucial role assessment plays for an institution...

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pp. 171-178

Our book focuses on the writing center assessment process as a journey that we’ve both taken, and which we’ve largely enjoyed and found important—even interesting and fun. But what we would like to muse upon for a few pages, here at the end of this book, is the very real experience you’re likely to have multiple times (at least, we did): ...

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Appendix: Annotated Bibliography for Writing Center Assessment

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pp. 179-201

Included here are sources that we have found useful in understanding writing center assessment and in developing this book. These sources come from our own research and reading, from selected bibliographies, and from references made in scholarship we have found pertinent to writing center assessment. ...


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pp. 203-207

About the Authors

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pp. 209

E-ISBN-13: 9780874218343
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874218169

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2012