NEWCA’s 2018 Conference was held March 24-25, 2018 at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

Call for Proposals

Closing the Circle: Theorizing Practice, Practicing Assessment, and Assessing Theory

Keynote Speaker: Harry Denny, Purdue University

Harry Denny is an Associate Professor of English at Purdue University and the Director of the Online Writing Lab (OWL). Denny’s research areas focus on composition studies, writing center theory and practice, cultural studies and research methods. Denny’s first book, Facing the Center: Towards an Identity Politics of One-to-one Mentoring (Utah State University Press), explores how sociocultural dynamics (gender, race, class) impact the everyday interaction that takes place within writing conferences.

More recently, Denny has been working on using both qualitative and quantitative assessment data collected within the Purdue writing center to inform decision-making. Additionally, Denny has been active through the OWL’s Writing Center Research Project aggregating data across several campus writing centers so they can craft narratives for themselves and their unique student populations and campus environments. These narratives help tell the story of each center’s unique experiencewho is using the writing center; who isn’t using the writing center and how to engage them; what writers need from the writing center and how they are using it; how the writing center adapts to perceived needs, and how successful those efforts were.

On This Year’s Theme

This year’s NEWCA conference calls for writing center tutors, administrators, and practitioners to consider how writing centers are working to understand the relationships between three essential activities: theorizing, assessing, and engaging in tutoring practices with writers. At its core, this call is about intersections between the kinds of work that we do and what informs that very work.  One of the ways in which we can bring these strands into contact is to think of our centers as writing “labs,” where we engage in experimentation, a process of trial and error, revision, doubt, and determination. Experimentation helps disrupt practices that can easily become fixed, asking practitioners who work in writing center spaces to do so with a critical eye-to think through the changes we make, why we make those changes, changes we want to make, but struggle to, as well as to question our ideals and why we have those ideals.  

  • What are the mechanisms that you employ to help you infuse writing center theory into your practice? How have you attempted to evaluate the effects of this interaction? What were your results?
  • Does the practice of working with student writers inspire you to agree or disagree with writing center theory? How do you assess the successful integration of theory on the ground? Has your writing center developed its own working theories?
  • Administrators: in what ways do you involve students and student staff in assessment? Student staff: in what ways do you participate in assessment?
  • In what ways does your writing center experiment with new ideas/theories/practices?
  • What theoretical assumptions do you and your staff work from? On what basis did you decide that those theories are worthy of use? Are there theoretical approaches that practice and assessment caused you to modify? If so, how?
  • How do you evaluate your practice through the lenses of theory?
  • What are the challenges to conducting research (time, staff, funding, administrative support) that you have encountered in your campus environment and what have your solutions been? How have they been successful? How could they be improved?
  • How have you used your assessment data (both qualitative and quantitative) to drive decision-making in your center? What were the results? Were you surprised by outcomes?
  • What drives change in your writing center? What drives change in your tutoring practices?
  • How do you navigate the transition from each activity while working to have each one inform the other?
  • How do our theoretical approaches, assessments, and day-to-day practices with writers work together? What happens in instances if/when they don’t perfectly dovetail? What are the points of contact, liminal spaces, or connective tissues that bond these three crucial facets of writing center work?

Proposal Guidelines

Successful presentations are dynamic exchanges between audience members (peer tutors, graduate students, and other writing center professionals and faculty). We welcome presentations (and poster presentations – see guidelines below) of original scholarship and research that foster dialogue with conference participants. In order to include more voices and perspectives in our ongoing discussions, we especially encourage tutors and first-time presenters to send in proposals, as well as writing center workers from community college and high school writing centers.

Please prepare a 250- to 500-word proposal and a 75-word abstract for a 20-minute individual presentation or a 75-minute interactive workshop, roundtable, or panel. Your proposed workshop, roundtable, or panel must actively involve the audience. As a result of feedback from recent conferences, we continue to encourage proposals for the facilitation of roundtable discussions. Please include the following information in your proposal:

  1. Proposer’s name, position (i.e., tutor, director, etc), institution, institutional or home address, telephone number, and email address
  2. Presenters’ names with title and contact information, as above
  3. Title of presentation, a 250- to 500-word proposal, and a 75-word abstract for inclusion in the conference program
  4. Type of session (i.e., individual presentation, panel presentation, roundtable discussion, workshop presentation)
  5. Specific audiovisual and technical requests (NOTE: Presenters should plan to bring their own laptop computers)
  6. Plans for encouraging interaction and involving the audience in the presentation. This may be included in the presentation description.

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of relevance to the conference theme and application to a broad audience of writing center tutors and administrators. Submissions will also be reviewed on the basis of originality (novel perspectives, approaches, and methods), interactivity (audience participation vs. oral delivery of an essay), and clarity.

Poster Session Guidelines

NEWCA’s poster session is an opportunity for you to get feedback on a work-in-progress or to share research that lends itself to a visual/poster presentation. Generally speaking, posters consist of both images and text in order to share the reason for the study/research, current findings, future directions, and what you’d like feedback or ideas on.  

If you would like to participate in the poster session, please submit a 250-word proposal that includes a description of your project/research and justification for why the poster session is the best fit for your project. Submissions for individual or group poster sessions are welcome.