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CASLL-L  August 1995

CASLL-L August 1995

Subject:

Re: Writing Center Survey 95 09:40:28 am

From:

Margaret Procter <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 6 Aug 1995 09:13:26 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (131 lines)

> Here is our questionnaire:
>
>
>  1.)  What is the enrollment size of your school?
                65,000 students, full- and part-time, undergrad and graduate
>  2.)  Do you have a student support service that could be classified as a
>          writing center?
                a number of services usually called writing labs--8 in
                the undergraduate colleges (Faculty of Arts and
                Science) plus 4 beginning in professional faculties
>  3.)  How would you (generally) define your writing assistance facility?
                We mainly offer individual tutoring to students, and
                also give group workshops.  Increasingly we are being
                called upon to support faculty by giving workshops,
                consulting individually on designing assignments and
                grading them, training TAs, and participating in
                policy decisions (e.g. about admission).
>  4.)  What is the philosophy of your writing center?  Does it have a
>         mission statement and defined policy?
                The college labs have produced a joint statement on
                what we do that we distribute to our students.  We
                agree that our function is to help students develop
                skills in language, high-level literacy, and
                reasoning; we also see a role in faculty development.
                We see ourselves as faculty, not staff, and are
                careful to refer to our function as teaching.
>  5.)  Is the writing center staff involved in developing tutoring
>         programs, workshops, and resources?
                Yes, in nearly all cases we develop our own programs
                and are eager to participate in larger policy
                decisions.  The coordinator of writing support has
                also developed workshops for tutors and other faculty,
                written student and faculty handouts, developed online
                material, requested lists of books from the library,
                etc.  Individual writing labs and tutors have
                developed and taught their own non-credit courses and
                workshops, and have (in one case) designed and run an
                admissions and placement test.
>  6.)  What proportion of the student population does the writing center
>         serve:  certain programs or departments; all students; faculty?
                The college labs serve approx. one half the undergraduate
                student population; the new facilities in the professional
                faculties potentially serve another one third.  The
                least served groups are graduate students, especially
                those for whom English is not a first language.  The
                new coordinator, writing support, has made contact
                with faculty members in most divisions, with
                especially strong contacts in Arts and Science and the
                health sciences.  One writing-lab director in a
                professional faculty serves nearly completely as a
                faculty consultant.
>  7.)  Where does the writing center fit into the administrative structure
>         of your institution?
                The college labs report to college administration; the
                professional labs report to deans.  The Coordinator,
                Writing Support, is centrally funded but reports to
                the Faculty of Arts and Science for administrative
                convenience. That position is consultative only.
>  8.)  How is the writing center staffed?
                Most facilities have professional directors, usually
                with Ph.D.s, and tutors in their final years of Ph.D.
                studies or with completed Ph.D.s.  Most jobs are
                part-time, but nearly all are considered faculty
                appointments.
>  9.)  Where is the writing center physically located?
                Various....  Private space is essential.  We have
                discovered too that secretarial support is important
                for taking appointment bookings.
>  10.) What facilities, equipment, and resources does the writing
center offer?
        One college lab has 8 computers with some
        style-checking and drill programs, along with the individual tutoring.
        The others offer individual tutoring, books on writing,
        handouts on writing.  A number of student handouts and faculty
        documents are online.
>  11.) How many hours per day is the writing center open?
                various....distinct busy seasons in November and March-April
>  12.) What is the usage per semester?
                At the college labs, it ranges from 10 to 20%,
                depending on resources provided--we are always fully
                booked.
>  13.) How is the writing center funded?
                Most funding comes from central administration but it
                is channelled at the college or faculty level.  Some
                college labs are supported by alumni money.
>  14.) How is the writing center service evaluated?
                Mainly by student comment cards, from within local divisions.

>  15.) What kind of promotion/public relations activities do you use to
>         raise awareness of the writing center's services?
                Local flyers, announcements, faculty references;
                speaking to orientation groups and other student
                groups; speaking to classes; participation in college
                or faculty activities.  Also online announcements and
                listings in student guidebooks.
>  16.) What helped you most in establishing your writing center?
                Our main support has come from faculty who are
                concerned that students cannot handle the kinds of
                discourse necessary for their curriculum--i.e., being
                able to write reflectively and analytically about the
                course material.  Professional groups have also made
                clear to some faculties that their graduates needed
                better communication skills in general.
                Administration has also been concerned because of
                anecdotal evidence  ("horror stories") of graduates
                being unable to write intelligibly; they had written
                nothing while at university.
>  17.) What caused you the most grief in establishing your writing center?
                1.  A decision four years ago to fire one college
                writing-lab director and replace her with Grammatik. (!)
                This galvanized many faculty members to protest, and
                drew together the disparate writing tutors to define
                clearly and forcefully what we did and why it was valuable.
                2.  The continuing inefficiency of centralized
                decision-making about funding.  Our new programs
                especially suffer from inadequate planning time
                for program design and hiring.
>  18.) Who are other contacts we should question--probably persons not on the
>         CASLL listserv but vitally interested in writing centers in Canada?
                {see Cathy Schryer, Waterloo, for list of names in
                Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing}
>  19.) Would you like a copy of our survey results?  (If so, please provide
>         an address, both smail and e-mail.)
                email:  [log in to unmask]
                smail:  Margaret Procter
                        Room 216, University College
                        University of Toronto
                        Toronto, ON M5S 1A1
>  20.) Any final comments?
>               Thanks for undertaking this, Henry and Susan.  I look
                forward to seeing your results.

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