SIG report: WC Assessment & Research
Michelle Deal and Collie Fulford combined SIGs and hosted conversation across two sessions that explored the intersections of WC assessment and research. In attendance were our conference host, Sue Dinitz of University of Vermont, and Tom Denton of SUNY Dutchess Community College; we were joined by Nichole Bennett-Bealer of SUNY Plattsburgh, Sarah Blazer & Carolyn Steinhoff of CUNY Lehman, and John Hall of Boston University during the second hour.
Tom Denton asked the pointed question, “What counts as assessment?” prompting discussion of qualitative and quantitative approaches and the differences between internally driven and externally mandated assessment.
What effect do external demands such as assessment for institutional accreditation have on our centers’ practices? In this “age of accountability,” how can we ensure that what we study and assess is meaningful rather than dutiful? Internally driven issues prompted us to develop questions we’d like assessment / writing center research to help answer, such as: What prompts students’ return visits to the writing center? What actually happens to students’ writing and/or attitudes toward writing after tutoring?
We also discussed internal uses for assessment on two scales: 1) as part of tutor development (e.g. tutors observing and assessing other tutors’ sessions) and 2) strategic assessment to support arguments for space and money to do our work.
As the WC Administration SIG leaders note, we also detected significant overlap between the concerns raised at our table and those pertinent to other SIGs.