Applying Accreditation Standards to Help Define A Writing Center’s Programming and Its On-Campus RelationshipsCrystal Bickford, Ph.D.Southern New Hampshire University Learning Assistance Association of New England Annual Conference October 28, 2011
Accreditation Agencies • New England Schools & Colleges (NEASC) • Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools (MSACS) • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
Benefits of Aligning Standards • Align with administrative purposes • Build administrative relationships • Help programming efforts • Improve student initiatives • Increase center support • Recognize varying populations • Traditional day students • Non-traditional evening students • On-line students
Marginalization vs. Autonomy • Research of Marginalization • Carino, 1995 • Harris, 1992 • Kinkead, 1996
Working Towards Collaboration • Lunsford, 1991, “Collaboration, Control, and the Idea of a Writing Center” • Collaboration can foster problem finding and problem solving, participating in interdisciplinary thinking, having a “deeper understanding of others,” promoting excellence, and advancing active learning. • For us: the key word was relationships
Fostering Relationships • By encouraging writing center directors to participate in this process, writing centers may gain the ability to develop autonomy and control over their own programming… • Staffing • Budgeting • Site limitations • Types of programming • Center creates its own identity as a result of broadening its internal relationships
Our Writing Center • School population: 1,100 • Center’s individual sessions: 1,000 annually • Center’s contacts: 3,500 annually • As numbers , so did • Visibility • Credibility • Financial stability
Role of Accreditation ProcessStep 1: Self-Examination • Review accomplishments to date& existing relationships • Usage statistics • Programming attendance (other than 1-1 sessions) • Staffing • Faculty inquiries • Narratives of successful students • Overall growth
Role of Accreditation ProcessStep 2: Peer Review • Director should work with faculty & administration in order to provide information for the written report • Share documents on a common portal • Write your own section but review others to make sure that small details aren’t lost in the translation
Role of Accreditation ProcessStep 3: Accreditation Site Visit • Discuss both strengths & weaknesses • Discuss a “wish list” • Explain how the center can tie into the curriculum
Determining Success To document and make visible what the center does!
Role of Accreditation ProcessStep 5: Implementation Using these conversations…start planning and implementing.
Boquet & Lerner (2008) • “It will take all of us who are invested in literacy education, in all of our settings, to maximize the potential of these exciting new opportunities. Our field can no longer afford, if it ever could, to have forged a separate peace between classroom and non-classroom teaching. There is no separate but equal” (p. 186).
NEASC Report Results • Increase office relationships • Increase writing presence • Decrease separated populations (on-line, traditional, non-traditional, etc.)
Mission Statement • Gives each department a direction so that they look for ways to compliment one another while meeting their own objectives • Common institutional bond
NEASC Standards • Standard 4.1 • “The institution’s programs are consistent with and serve to fulfill its mission and purposes (NEASC, 2005, p. 7). • Standard 5.1 • “Faculty categories…are clearly defined by the institution as is the role of each category in fulfilling the institution’s mission and purposes” (p. 14).
Mission Statement = Office of the President • Engages internal constituents • Faculty • Staff • Administrative offices • Engages external constituents • Board of Trustees • Alumni Association • Families of students
Office of the President & Mission Statement: Strategies • Consistent school-wide e-mails from the center • Weekly e-mails from the dean’s office • Informal end-of-semester faculty meetings at the President’s house • Short articles in the school’s newspaper • Center wrote dovetailing mission statement
Office of the President & Mission Statement: Outcomes • Capitalized on “welcoming environment” where students “learn and grow” • Consultant for furniture layout and design • Maximized technology • Increased budget • Increased control of the budget
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean • Representative at President’s Council & immediate supervisor of director • Approves… • new program ideas • funding • Publically supports new initiatives • Focuses on collaboration • Acts as faculty liaison
V.P. & Dean • Standard 4.3 • “Each educational program demonstrates coherence through its goals, structure, and content; policies and procedures for admission and retention; instructional methods and procedures; and the nature, quality, and extend of student learning and achievement” (p. 7)
V.P. & Dean: Strategies • Designed and implemented a Writing Consultants Program • Increased tutor professional development at conferences (including faculty/student presentations) • Increased in-class workshops, curriculum-based tutoring, review sessions, independent workshops, etc.
V.P. & Dean Outcomes • Increased funding • 7.5% budget increase is in place that corresponds with the school’s increasing enrollments • Increased/combined resources with other offices • Writing tutors help literary magazine with marketing, editing, & design • Office help works in the center to aid in conferences or external committee work (NEPTA, LAANE)
The Office of the Chief Enrollment Officer • Issues linked to recruitment & retention • Standard 6.7 • “The institution systematically identifies the characteristics and learning needs of its student population and then makes provision for responding to them” (p. 18). • Standard 6.8 • “In all cases, the institution provides academic support services appropriate to the student body…and provides available and responsive information resources and services” (p. 18).
Enrollment Officer Strategies • Center educates admissions officers and ambassadors about the center’s services • Shared staffing – crossover between “student ambassador” and “student tutor”
Enrollment Officer Outcomes • Budget for academic preparation workshops (initiated by the tutors) • Workshops later expanded into other areas of the college • Budget for an “Academic Preparation Tutor”
Office of the Chief Student Affairs • Responsible for student activities • Standard 6.12 • “As appropriate, the institution supports opportunities for student leadership and participation in campus organization and governance” (p. 18). • Justifies tutors as student leaders • Encourages alignment of the center as a student-organized, student-developed, and student-focused entity
Student Affairs Strategies • Giving tutors authority through… • Meetings • Suggestion boxes • E-mail communication “windows” • Contests (posters, logos, etc.) • Curriculum-based tutoring (& writing consultants) • Tutor-led workshops • Teaching Assistants (in first-year transition class) • Classes conducted in the Center • Tutors visit classes
Student Affairs Outcomes • Increased professional status for tutors (resumes, etc.) • Increased communication among transition course instructors, career services
Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) • A student is a student is a student… • Standards 6.7 and 6.8 • Addresses the need to “identify the characteristics and learning needs of its student population and then …[make]…provision for responding to them […and] in all cases, the institution provides academic support services appropriate to the student body” (p. 18)
GPS Strategies • Implemented an on-line tutoring program • Implemented an on-campus testing center
GPS Outcomes • Addition of an assistant director • Addition of additional space • Addition of funding to oversee additional summer hours for the on-line tutoring
Ultimate Question How do we create and define a writing center that holds institutional influence? • Relationships • Awareness • Innovators • Balancing autonomy and collaboration