Writing Center presents research at conference

By Lark Commanday Jan 17, 2020


IWU’s Writing Center tutors will share their work and research at a three-day writing symposium in Milwaukee, WI, at the end of the month.

Two tutors, sophomores Katie Fata and Isabel Sperry, along with their Writing Center Director, Professor Anna Scanlon, will host a panel on “Writing for Writing Instruction.”

The focus of this panel is on the means by which faculty and staff create prompts for assignments and the ways in which students and peer tutors respond to these assignments.

The tutors and Dr. Scanlon used the first 25 prompts they received in their C.O.P (Commenting on Prompts) Program to map trends with regard to individual tutors, Dr. Scanlon’s, and faculty feedback.

They then submitted an abstract to the symposium which will take place at Marquette University the weekend of January 31 and they were offered the opportunity to present their findings.

While only two tutors will attend to present the findings, all of the current writing center tutors and Professor Scanlon worked last semester to make the inaugural C.O.P. Program a resource for faculty across the curriculum.

Now in its second semester, this program encourages faculty and staff to submit prompts to writing center tutors who then provide feedback on said prompts based on their under- standing of what the assignment is asking the writer to do.

Dr. Scanlon then also comments on the prompts, sharing her expertise as an English PhD as well as a colleague.

“C.O.P. is always offered to any faculty who have an interest,” Dr. Scanlon said.

Currently, this C.O.P. pro- gram is also taking on new life in Professor Scanlon’s recently-credited, writing intensive Peer Tutoring Colloquium course where students who want to become writing center tutors train in writing center pedagogy, genres of writing and how to provide feedback in a meaningful way.

These tutors-in-training will attend academic conferences in the future but in the mean- time, they’re using prompts submitted through C.O.P. to understand how assignment expectations may vary and be defined in distinct ways across campus.

“Writing is a process that happens in very different ways across campuses,” Dr. Scanlon said.

At the conference, tutors intend to visit other panels on writing to learn more about the craft and the process.

As for their own presentation, Sperry and Fata both plan to talk about how this experience has changed the ways in which they respond to prompts as tutors and as students.

Dr. Scanlon will address the ways in which these findings have informed the way she writes prompts for her own students.

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