Call for Proposals

Synergy, Innovation, & the Writing Center

Synergy (according to the OED): The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects

Innovate (Merriam Webster): make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products

Collaboration.  It may just be the most influential concept for writing center work.  Administrators assign readings with it in the title; tutors use it to describe their sessions; faculty (if we do our job well) understand it to be the foundational principle behind student/tutor interactions.  Collaboration is the cement that holds the whole structure together.  It is powerful.  But we wonder, have we become so comfortable and familiar with the term that it has lost some of its resonance?  

Writing center work is collaborative in a synergistic way. The interaction of the reader and writer produces energy and ideas that are greater than either would have created alone. Moreover, we know that when they leave the writing center, tutors bring skills highly valued in many settings; they are able to listen closely to the ideas of others, they can facilitate the development of those ideas, and they welcome feedback and value reflection. Innovation in industry, arts and sciences is often born of this kind of synergy. What can writing centers learn from collaborations outside the university? What knowledge and practices can we share out from the writing center that would contribute to innovation? When peer tutors leave the writing center and join professional communities, how do the unique skills writing center collaboration fosters transfer to those new spaces?

In thinking about synergy, innovation, and the writing center, the following questions might be helpful:

    • One of the skills we learn as peer tutors is how to be with another person and exchange ideas. How does/can this skill transfer to other spheres of your life--personal and professional?
    • How does the work you do in the writing center compare with other collaborative work that you engage in (in classes, sports, volunteer groups, etc)?
    • In what ways do we collaborate as co-workers in writing centers? How does the nature of these relationships differ from how we collaborate with writers?
    • How do we collaborate with administrators, faculty, community groups? What is lacking, needed, or desired in these relationships?
    • How does collaborating with writers in your discipline/outside your discipline affect your own development as a thinker/practitioner/student in your field?
    • What replicable, aggregable, and data-supported methods work for us to answer the questions we have about the relevance and significance of the work we do?
    • If we think of genres as patterns of not just language but behavior, does the genre of the tutoring interaction transfer to other situations? How does that transfer work?

Proposals are due November 16, 2015.



Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association,  West Chester University English Department, West Chester, PA 19383

MAWCA is a 509(a)(2) public charity.

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