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Eleven Peer Tutors Represent IUP Writing Center at Regional Conference

The IUP Writing Center was one of the best-represented universities at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association (MAWCA) conference, held at Salisbury University April 4 and 5, 2014. Eleven tutors delivered six presentations at the conference.

Presentation topics ranged from tutoring strategies and identity construction to writing center publicity and creative writing, reflecting the wide range of topics studied in the field of writing centers. Encouraged by Writing Center Director Ben Rafoth, all of the tutors were able to secure funding to cover travel and lodging expenses.

MAWCA-TaraLATarah Dunn (photo, far left), a master’s student in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program, presented in the same panel as the Writing Center’s assistant director, Leigh Ann Dunning (photo, second from left), a doctoral student in the Composition/TESOL program. Dunn presented “Undergraduate International Student Identity Constructions in the Writing Center,” and Dunning presented her pilot study, “Co-Constructed Peer Tutorial Identities: Graduate Peer-Tutors and Multilingual Graduate Tutees in the Writing Center.”

“MAWCA was an extraordinary experience for me,” Dunn said. “I am glad that I was able to attend the conference, present my research, and support my fellow tutors in our professional and academic journey as a unified writing center.”

Dunning said it was “really great” to have IUP’s Writing Center so well represented at the conference. “It’s a great regional conference where tutors get to practice presenting their research and sharing all the great experiences they get from tutoring.”

MAWCA-TaylorBeckyTaylor Snyder (photo, at left), a master’s student in the TESOL program, presented with volunteer tutor Becky Driscoll (photo, at right) on the topic “Establishing Ethos: A Ninja Approach to Détente.”

Their talk explored the value of establishing credibility early in a tutorial session.

Spanish Education major Hannah Church and English major Savannah Thorpe presented “Setting The Stage,” which focused on the application of conscious tutoring and how tutors can use body language to influence the outcomes of a session.

“I couldn’t imagine a better atmosphere for my first professional presentation on how we present ourselves as tutors,” Church said. “I’ve been inspired to explore my professional development opportunities within the writing center community, specifically at an international conference in October.”

MAWCA-EmilyJournalism and English major Emily Weber presented “Advertising or Engaging? Using Twitter to Build Relationships with Student Writers.” Her talk explored how writing center publicists can use social media to engage the university community rather than just promote services and announce open appointments. Weber is the IUP Writing Center’s communications manager.

English major Nick Marsellas presented “Not Just Academics: The Importance of Creative-Writing Tutoring Skills.” Marsellas addressed difficulties tutors sometimes experience with creative writing and the importance of creative writing skills for many different kinds of writing. He’s also developed a workshop for tutors to help them better work with student writers’ creative writing.

Katie Hynes, Nadia Zamin, and Emmett Ryan, doctoral students in the Composition/TESOL program, conducted a fishbowl presentation, “The Things They Carry: Non-Writing Concerns in the Tutorial and How/When to Redirect the Conversation.” They explored the issues that students bring into the writing center, and how tutors must be prepared to handle them.

Hynes, Dunning, Driscoll, Marsellas, and Church will represent the IUP Writing Center next semester at the joint conference of the International Writing Centers Association/National Conference of Peer Tutoring in Writing. Writing Center Director Ben Rafoth and tutor Tori Loch will also join them.

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