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3 C o nnecting W riting C enter A ssessment to Yo ur I nstituti o n ’ s M issi o n William J. Macauley, Jr. 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. However, writing centers don’t work in a vacuum; centers live and breathe within institutions, in relation to other academic entities. Writing centers depend on those institutions and those other entities for so much of their work; it behooves writing center directors (WCDs) to acknowledge this reality and work with it. However, negotiating the relationships between a writing center, institution, and other educational offices, academic programs, and curricula is fraught with worries for the WCD: How far should the writing center go in acculturating to an institution and its administration? What can the writing center safely give in order to cooperate with other programs? At what point is the integrity of the center compromised? Writing centers can find themselves in any number of places along the continuum between complete independence and complete assimilation. The Center Will Hold: Critical Perspectives on Writing Center Scholarship illustrates at least two possible positions on that continuum through Josephine A. Koster’s “Administration across the Curriculum” and “Breathing Lessons” by Michele Eodice, which argue for bringing the interests of administrators into the center versus bringing our interests out to others, respectively. Their seemingly contrasting views could certainly be seen as polemical; should WCDs choose to become “administration ” and turn away from being writing center people or do they make administrators understand the unique work that writing centers do by demanding recognition? Meanwhile, neither Koster nor Eodice argues that this is a real or singular choice. In her discussion of working more effectively with administrators, Koster writes: 58    BUILDING WRITING CENTER ASSESSMENTS THAT MATTER We lose nothing by learning about and employing conventions, disciplinary practices, and linguistic expectations of administrators, just as we have lost nothing by learning about the conventions, disciplinary practices, and linguistic expectations of literary theorists, educational philosophers, cognitive psychologists, and yes, even chaos mathematicians. (164) Although Koster focuses on rhetorical concerns, her proposition is an expression of a larger idea: we lose nothing by learning about others’ values and cultures—and we have to engage with some specific others to get our work done. Eodice extends this idea when she writes that we have much to gain by engaging with others in our institutions: professional and social networks are already formed and formidable within the writing center community; these are powerful and productive and ferry our goodies back and forth to each other, but to go beyond this we need to become a “smart mob”—a home grown initiative that utilizes our workaday knowledge to reach others in ways that can impact policy, influence administrative and institutional leaders, and help us grow leaders from among our writing center fellows. (129) Eodice acknowledges what we can do with our resources within a writing center community; her statement reflects her larger argument that we export collaboration from the writing center and suggests that we may be able to bring the powerful network we have within writing centers to the work we need to do outside of them. She argues that we must build outward from writing centers in order to engage effectively with those around us and, by extension, continue to develop our own work. Certainly, tacit in Eodice’s argument is Koster’s claim—we have to be participants in the discussions that impact our centers. However, she takes the discussion one step further by arguing that we can and should influence toward writing centers culture the administrators who are making decisions relevant to our centers. In the simplest terms, we have to know what matters to those with whom we work (and want to work) in order to most effectively collaborate with them. Beyond that, we must be deliberate in understanding and engaging others who can impact our work (as we wish to impact theirs). That idea is at the heart of this chapter: engaging those around us in order to accomplish more for our centers. This chapter argues for making connections with our institutions through not only our assessment results but the careful consideration of institutional objectives when we Connecting Writing Center Assessment to Your...


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