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4 M oving f r o m Others ’ Values to Our Own Adapting Assessable Outcomes from Professional Organizations and Other Programs on Your Campus Ellen Schendel In chapter 2, Bill outlined a process for generating assessable student learning and programmatic outcomes based on your writing center’s values and goals. The steps he described and illustrated were: 1. Articulate the values or goals for your center’s work. 2. Develop indicators that are expressions of those values and goals. 3. Construct measures that assess those values and goals. 4. Collect data. 5. Analyze data. 6. Complete the feedback loop by applying what you learned from the data to your center’s work. 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, recognizing and confirming your writing center’s strengths, communicating that story of your center’s work to others, and shaping new programming. Moving from values to outcomes is essential to achieving what Brian Huot calls for in (Re)Articulating Writing Assessment for Teaching and Learning: an understanding of how our assessment practices can (and should) align with the theories, research, and best practices of teaching writing—and, we’d add, the tutoring of writing. After all, Moving from Others’ Values to Our Own    83 assessment will only be meaningful to the center’s work, our campus communities, and the tutors with whom we work if it addresses the issues that they (and you) care so deeply about: Do writing center consultations help build better writers and better writing? And how do you define “better writers” and “better writing”? How will you know those things when you see them? Are tutors adequately prepared to do the work your center requires? Do the various services and programs offered through your center have the positive impact on students, learning, and perhaps teaching and curriculum that you intend? What should you be doing differently? A tricky aspect of assessment, however, is that it must satisfy two somewhat competing purposes: first and foremost, the assessments you do need to be rooted in your values so that they are useful to you. They must pursue the questions you care about answering and that help you to move the writing center in the direction you’ve identified is most impactful on your campus. However, assessment reports are read by others , and the data you collect and analyze may be used in decision making about resource allocation by administrators and perhaps even faculty governance. Therefore, the assessment must begin with your values but still resonate with people who are not “insiders” to writing center scholarship and best practices and who may not approach the reading of your assessment report already convinced of the writing center’s value. This political reality of assessment is something to keep in mind early on, as you craft outcomes that drive your plan for collecting data—and ultimately the report you distribute. The rest of this chapter describes how you might map the writing center ’s values onto larger conversations about writing and higher education that enable you to show the links between the writing center’s and your institution’s goals to educate and support students. An important caveat, however: it is only after articulating the values of your writing center as described in chapter 1 that it makes sense to map those values onto outcomes and best practices from outside of your center. Your center’s assessment plan must be built upon the bedrock of what you believe to be important and worth investigating via data collection . An equally important caveat: seeing the potential in linking your assessment to outcomes and assessments outside your center requires an open mind and a collaborative stance—and sometimes, a bit more effort. What you stand to gain, however, is profound—both in how others view your center and in the way your center realizes its potential. 84    BUILDING WRITING CENTER ASSESSMENTS THAT MATTER Merging Conte xts: W riting C enter Values and Institutio nal Realities Most writing centers are located in educational institutions, within a landscape that is changing rapidly. State funding to public and private institutions is waning; the recent economic downturn has challenged private institutions’ endowments; programs and personnel are being cut or reappropriated—all while the government...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780874218343
Related ISBN
9780874218169
MARC Record
OCLC
808375872
Pages
200
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-21
Language
English
Open Access
No
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