GSW Writing Center represented at competitive international conference

Published 2:33 pm Monday, January 14, 2019

AMERICUS — Writing tutors from Georgia Southwestern State University’s (GSW) Writing Center had two separate proposals recognized and accepted for the competitive International Writing Centers Association (IWCA) Conference held in Atlanta in Fall 2018. The presentations, given by four GSW students and one GSW alumna, included original, qualitative research on issues unique to university writing centers as well as the larger field of writing studies.
This annual conference, the largest and most prestigious in writing center studies, brings together writing center directors and tutors from around the world to discuss groundbreaking work in the field.
“That our writing tutors were recognized as scholars contributing to the field is an impressive accomplishment,” said Lauren DiPaula, Ph.D., director of GSW’s Writing Center and writing studies scholar. “Not all proposals get accepted, even those from seasoned scholars and writing center directors, so I was especially proud of our staff. Their original research no doubt brought new perspectives to the work of writing center scholars and practitioners.”
Brittnea Holland, a senior English major with a minor in psychology, presented on the mental health training of writing center staff by administrators and directors. Her presentation was titled Working With, Not Against, Mental Illness: Fostering Discussion, Training, and Support for Writing Center Staff with Mental Health Concerns.
“I intended to create a survey to see how training was currently being done,” said Holland, “and then go from there to figure out what we can do next to make things a bit easier on consultants. I did quite a bit of research, but my topic actually fell under the umbrella of topics that there isn’t much research done on. So, I wound up pulling from non-writing center sources, like therapist mindfulness and how teaching that during training might help.”
Caryn Childers, a senior biology major, worked on a second presentation for the IWCA Conference alongside Writing Center consultants Emily Dyal, a middle grades education major, Nikki Kadima, a sociology major, and GSW alumna Sunni Zemblowski. The group’s presentation, Stop, Co-Location, and Listen: The Impact of Moving to the Library, looked at how the students, faculty, staff and administration viewed the Writing Center before and after their relocation to the James Earl Carter Library in Spring 2018.
“We were hoping to gather data to examine how their perceptions of us possibly changed between the two locations,” said Childers. “Our other focuses included how libraries and writing centers collaborate to help students.”
The tutors’ participation at the IWCA conference was also an educational experience for them. “It showed them that writing centers exist in many places and in many incarnations, but that they themselves belong to a community of practitioners and scholars with many similar interests to pursue and challenges to tackle,” said DiPaula.
“Attending the IWCA conference makes me want to attend more conferences in the future,” said Childers. “Even if I don’t present in them, attending other people’s presentations really opened my eyes to some of the bigger questions being asked and problems being addressed in the field.”