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Building Writing Center Assessments that Matter
Ellen Schendel and William J. Macauley, Jr.
6x9, 234 pages

Published: 2012

ISBN 978-0-87421-816-9
paper $28.95

ISBN 978-0-87421-834-3
e-book $22.95

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ELLEN SCHENDEL is associate professor of writing and director of the Fred Meijer Center for Writing & Michigan Authors at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. At Grand Valley, she teaches academic and professional writing courses. Her scholarship focuses mainly on writing assessment and writing program administration and has been published in WPA: Writing Program Administration, Assessing Writing, Writing Lab Newsletter, Journal of Advanced Composition, The Journal of Writing Assessment, and several edited collections. She serves on the editorial boards of Composition Studies, WPA: Writing Program Administration, and The Journal of Writing Assessment.

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WILLIAM J. (BILL) MACAULEY, JR. is associate professor and university writing center director at the University of Nevada, Reno. His recent publications include Before and After the Tutorial: Writing Centers and Institutional Relationships (coedited with Nicholas Mauriello and Robert T. Koch, Jr.) and Marginal Words, Marginal Work? Tutoring the Academy in the Work of Writing Centers (coedited with Nicholas Mauriello), which won the IWCA 2007 Outstanding Scholarship Best Book Award. His other scholarship has focused on student agency in writing,writing program/center administration, and first-generation/working-class studentsı acquisition of academic discourse.

Building Writing Center Assessments that Matter

Ellen Schendel and William J. Macauley, Jr.

No less than other divisions of the college or university, contemporary writing centers find themselves within a galaxy of competing questions and demands that relate to assessment—questions and demands that usually embed priorities from outside the purview of the writing center itself. Writing centers are used to certain kinds of assessment, both quantitative and qualitative, but are often unprepared to address larger institutional or societal issues. In Building Writing Center Assessments that Matter, Schendel and Macauley start from the kinds of assessment strengths already in place in writing centers, and they build a framework that can help writing centers satisfy local needs and put them in useful dialogue with the larger needs of their institutions, while staying rooted in writing assessment theory.

The authors begin from the position that tutoring writers is already an assessment activity, and that good assessment practice (rooted in the work of Adler-Kassner, O'Neill, Moore, and Huot) already reflects the values of writing center theory and practice. They offer examples of assessments developed in local contexts, and of how assessment data built within those contexts can powerfully inform decisions and shape the futures of local writing centers. With additional contributions by Neal Lerner, Brian Huot and Nicole Caswell, and with a strong commitment to honoring on-site local needs, the volume does not advocate a one-size-fits-all answer. But, like the modeling often used in a writing consultation, examples here illustrate how important assessment principles have been applied in a range of local contexts. Ultimately, Building Writing Assessments Centers that Matter describes a theory stance toward assessment for writing centers that honors the uniqueness of the writing center context, and examples of assessment in action that are concrete, manageable, portable, and adaptable.