Praxis: A Writing Center Journal

Permanent URI for this collection

Praxis: A Writing Center Journal is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published biannually by the University Writing Center (UWC) at the University of Texas at Austin.

Users interested in other content from the UWC can review their other collections in Texas ScholarWorks.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 449
  • Item
    Praxis Vol 20, No 3: Re-Evaluating Traditional Practice in the Writing Center
    (2023) Hutton, Lizzie; O'Keefe, Alison; Bond, Candis; Grendell, Matthew; Pyper, Brynn; Elmer, Julia; Overly, Brooke; Hammond, Marinne; Garahan, Katie; Jackson Stone, Justine; Miller, Brynn; Walker, Kiara; Conatser, Emma
    Table of Contents: About the Authors -- Columns -- From the Editors: Re-Evaluating Traditional Practice in the Writing Center / by Kiara Walker and Emma Conatser -- Focus Articles -- "There is No Rubric for This": Creative Writers' Bids for Writing Center Support / by Lizzie Hutton -- STEMM Student Writing Center Usage at a Health Sciences University / by Alison O'Keefe and Candis Bond -- Effects of Writing Center-Based Peer Tutoring on Undergraduate Students' Perceived Stress / by Matthew Grendell, Brynn Pyper, Julia Elmer, Brooke Overly, and Marinne Hammond -- Developing Purposeful Practices for Writing Center Introductory Presentations / by Katie Garahan, Justine Jackson Stone, and Brynn Miller
  • Item
    Advocates for Education in Prison-Based Writing Centers from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 2
    (Praxis, 2023) Wilson, Julie
    Prison-based writing centers are needed to support the academic achievement of college students who are incarcerated. This study describes the author’s work designing a writing studio to support credit-bearing courses in a women’s prison. I used a qualitative action research design combining scholarship, observations, surveys, and interviews with iterative practice. I approached the work with a generalist tutoring mindset based in my campus-based center’s work, but found that students needed access to course-based expertise in an isolating environment with scarce resources. Scholarship and interviews revealed pitfalls educators can bring to prison-based writing programs, including pressures to adapt to the prison’s “rehabilitative” mindset and unexamined low academic expectations. Also revealed was the expertise of incarcerated students in surviving this dehumanizing environment and recognizing their own academic needs. Recognizing this expertise, established programs successfully employ incarcerated students who also have academic credibility with their peers, as peer tutors. To improve our program, we initiated more communication with faculty to anticipate students’ needs for resources and to answer students’ questions more directly. Also, we created ways for students to have some degree of control over their sessions, through signing up for sessions in advance and moving between independent work and sessions in a computer lab. Whatever tutors a program uses, it needs to recognize their knowledge and use training to complement that knowledge. All writing centers can learn from the voices herein that we must create room in our spaces for students to advocate for their education.
  • Item
    What Our Tutors Know: The Advantages of Small Campus Tutoring Centers
    (Praxis, 2023) Wetzl, Ana; Lieske, Pam; Mechenbier, Mahli
    Tutoring centers from small, open-admission campuses provide a much-needed service to students, but they also have to compete with other tutoring options such as eTutoring and private tutoring companies. As university budgets shrink and administration begins to look at cutting costs, outsourcing tutoring may sound like a good idea. Yet, there are certain aspects of tutoring that cannot be easily created when tutoring is cut off from the campus environment, such as the knowledge that tutors accumulate from being part of the campus—attending courses, tutoring, and just being part of the same communities of practice as their tutees. The article draws from the theoretical framework about communities of practice developed by Etienne Wenger and looks into how tutors build this knowledge. Additionally, the article explores ways in which this knowledge can be incorporated more in initial and ongoing tutor training. Qualitative and quantitative data collected from our regional campus current and former tutors show that belonging to some of the same communities as the tutees, both on and off campus, allows our tutors to provide an individualized campus-centered tutoring experience that relies on tutors’ previous knowledge of what professors look for. This knowledge can be obtained in organic ways, such as from having had courses with the professor, working with multiple students asking for help with the same assignment, or collaborating with other tutors who may be familiar with the professor. This knowledge cannot be duplicated by other tutoring services that are not affiliated with a specific campus.
  • Item
    Reading the Online Writing Center: The Affordances and Constraints of WCOnline from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 2
    (Praxis, 2023) Bhattarai, Pratistha; Colton, Aaron; Kim, Eun-hae; Manning, Amber; Schonberg, Eliana; Zhou, Xuanyu
    While online synchronous writing consultations predate the COVID-19 pandemic by at least a decade, the contingencies of the pandemic have left many writing centers scrambling to shift to online-only or hybrid formats. Amid such sudden changes in operations, center administrators and consultants often miss the opportunity to examine the tools that facilitate digital consultations. After analyzing trends in the foci of consultations at the Duke University Thompson Writing Program (TWP) Writing Studio pre-pandemic, early-, and mid-pandemic, this article offers a “critical digital pedagogy” reading of one the most popular online writing-consultation platforms, WCOnline. Close reading the aesthetics and features of WCOnline—such as the whiteboard, LiveChat, and video windows—we highlight the software’s implicit pedagogical biases. In response to these close readings, we offer a set of best practices for maximizing the pedagogical affordances of WCOnline, paying particular attention to rapport building, gestural language, written chat and notetaking, and textual annotations.
  • Item
    A Model for Infusing a Creative Writing Classroom with Writing Center Pedagogy from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 2
    (Praxis, 2023) Alden, Kelle
    In response to criticisms about the methods and goals of traditional creative writing workshops, I used the foundational tenets of writing center pedagogy to develop an alternative workshop model and taught two upper-division creative writing classes using the new approach. I collected data inductively though class observation and field notes as well as students’ preliminary surveys and corpus of class assignments. The results suggested that using writing center practices in the workshop increased students’ civility toward one another and that prioritizing verbal conversations over written responses helped the students develop better feedback overall.
  • Item
    Faculty Writing Groups for Writing Center Professionals: Rethinking Scholarly Productivity from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 2
    (Praxis, 2023) Alexander, Kara Poe; Andersen, Erin M.; Bleakney, Julia; Smith Daniel, Jennifer
    In this article, we discuss how participating in a writing group during and after the COVID-19 pandemic helped us reimagine what scholarly productivity means for us as writing center professionals (WCPs). Drawing on our experiences in an online writing group for almost three years with WCPs from four different institutions, we identify three themes that emerged across our experiences: (1) writing center work as scholarly and intellectual; (2) professionalization and mentoring; and (3) social support. Identifying these themes made visible for us a broader notion of scholarly productivity. It also helped us think more strategically about the complex and layered work we do as WCPs as we consistently juggle competing work demands. We hope this article can help WCPs not only re-conceive what it means to be productive as writing center scholars but also to integrate a broad range of scholarly work more fully into what they are already doing.
  • Item
    What’s Your Plan for the Consultation? Examining Alignment between Tutorial Plans and Consultations among Writing Tutors Using the Read/Plan-Ahead Tutoring Method from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 2
    (Praxis, 2023) Awad Scrocco, Diana
    Writing center scholars and tutor-training manuals historically emphasize the importance of tutors and writers collaboratively negotiating consultation agendas to maintain writers’ ownership over their writing. However, when tutors encounter advanced student writers, writers from unfamiliar fields, or writers with complex linguistic repertoires, they may struggle to read student writing, identify writing issues, and negotiate effective, mutual agendas. One tool for navigating these challenges is the “read-ahead method”—in which tutors read student writing in advance and prepare for consultations (Scrocco 10). While this method offers potential advantages, a brief survey reveals that some writing center administrators worry that tutors who read student writing in advance may hijack consultation agendas. This exploratory mixed-methods study examines thirteen tutor-supervisor planning conversations and subsequent consultations to assess the correspondence between tutors’ plans and consultations and to consider what factors may support or undermine writers’ agendas. Results suggest that tutors who use the read/plan-ahead method do not fervently push their planned agendas over writers’ agendas. However, very detailed or particularly vague pre-consultation planning may set tutors up for sessions that fail to negotiate and carry out cohesive, well-prioritized shared agendas. The most collaborative, coherent consultations in this study balance tutor and writer agendas. They begin with writers’ submitted concerns, identify high-priority global writing issues, engage in substantive agenda-setting with writers, explicitly link tutors’ plans with writers’ agendas, and abandon tutors’ plans when needed. The read/plan-ahead model works best when tutors remember to place writers at the heart of building, revising, and enacting consultation agendas.
  • Item
    Self-Initiated Writing Center Visits and Writing Development: A First-Year Writing Assessment from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 1
    (Praxis, 2022) Sampson Anderson, Salena
    This article analyzes the relationship between writing center use and writing improvements from the first to second semester in first-year university writing assessment data. The study correlates self-initiated writing center use and improvement in several areas, including title, thesis, organizational statement, organization, use of evidence, and clarity. These improvements contrast with those for peers who did not visit the center or who only visited when required. Writing center visits may directly impact assessment results when students visit the center with papers later designated for assessment. However, many assessment samples were not part of a writing center session. Instead, there may be differences in the population of students who self-initiate writing center appointments and those who do not. For instance, students with self-initiated writing center visits were less likely to identify as writers, and their initial assessment results were slightly lower than their peers’. However, by the second semester, their assessment scores generally surpassed those of their more confident peers. These findings suggest that students who self-initiate writing center visits are, as a group, better positioned to achieve increases in writing assessment scores across their first year because of productive writing center sessions and an open mindset for seeking writing support. However, this article also shows how quantitative data from writing program assessment may be leveraged against qualitative writing center data to highlight and address inequities, as observed in the case study of a multilingual writer whose assessment results did not feature the same positive changes as those of her peers.
  • Item
    Tutor Alums Doing Good: A Qualitative Study of the Character Strengths of Writing Tutor Alumni from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 1
    (Praxis, 2022) Parsons, Molly; Brown, Emma
    This article draws on data from 12 interviews with peer writing tutor alumni to demonstrate how their writing center training and experiences prepared them to work toward good (i.e., social justice or peace or rhetorical civility) in their post-graduation contexts. Recent scholarship in both writing center studies and writing studies calls for a redoubling of social justice efforts in our field (see Duffy, 2019 and Greenfield, 2020). This article asks how the field will recognize or know success in such efforts. Data from this small study suggests that there is untapped potential in the research tradition focused on tutor alumni experiences (including, most notably, the Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project), which is commonly used to demonstrate the benefits of tutoring to tutor alumni. This article reverses this lens, asking, instead, how tutor alumni might benefit the world, and whether we might consider their post-graduation habits and actions, which they credit to their time as tutors, as a measure of the field’s larger, positive influence. Researchers will discuss a heuristic they developed for analyzing tutor alumni reflections that surfaces and distinguishes a range of character strengths (a concept out of positive psychology and the philosophical tradition of virtue ethics), including “civic-mindedness” and “social intelligence,” which, after practicing and developing in the center, alumni reported that they continue to enact in their communities and contexts beyond the center.
  • Item
    Center-ing Graduate Writers’ Beliefs, Practices and Help Seeking Behaviors from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 1
    (Praxis, 2022) O'Connor, Victoria L.; Douglas, Red D.; Wynn Perdue, Sherry
    With this mixed method study, we sought to gain a data supported understanding of graduate students’ writing beliefs, practices, and help-seeking behaviors at Oakland University, a Midwestern public, doctoral-granting university with higher research activity (R2), and an assessment of how our writing center programming is perceived to address those needs. Although respondents indicated they felt supported by their supervisors, they rarely met with these advisors, found few venues in their departments for writing-specific support, and struggled to find time to write. In addition to this mismatch between their beliefs and the support available, we also found that graduate students who felt their needs went unmet by their respective departments and advisors were more likely to seek out assistance from the writing center and to attend writing center sponsored writing retreats, workshops, and consultations. Those who reported attending writing center graduate programming found that the resources, accountability, and writing support facilitated their success. Overall, this study sought to deepen our understanding of graduate students at our university so we might better serve them and to extend existing Writing Center Studies scholarship with empirical research that is replicable within or transferrable to other settings.
  • Item
    Helping Undergraduate Tutors Conduct and Disseminate Research: A Practical Guide for Writing Center Administrators from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 1
    (Praxis, 2022) Keaton, Megan; Schoppe, Ashley; Oliver, Daisha
    In recent years, the field of writing center studies has begun to recognize the value of undergraduate research (McKinney; DelliCarpini and Crimmins; Fitzgerald and Ianetta). Additionally, scholars have begun arguing that the writing center itself is a prime research site. As tutors ask questions about the writing center and its work, the center becomes a place in which the tutors can look for answers (McKinney; DelliCarpini and Crimmins). In this article, we argue that writing center administrators should encourage and mentor undergraduate tutors to conduct and disseminate research. To this end, we offer specific practices for doing so. We begin by discussing the benefits of undergraduate research to tutors, to the institution, and to writing center studies as a field. Together, these benefits serve to make a case for administrators to devote time and resources to mentor their undergraduate tutors in research. Then, we list practical strategies for helping tutors conduct research and disseminate that research in the form of professional conference presentations and publications. Finally, we speak to potential challenges. We acknowledge that undergraduate research involves sacrifice, as too often writing centers are understaffed and underfunded. Yet we firmly believe that this work amply repays this investment, as our personal experiences attest.
  • Item
    Inclusive Sentence-Level Writing Support from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol.19 No.3
    (Praxis, 2022) Draxler, Bridget; Berry, Anne; Novoa Villada, Manuela; Guiterrez, Victoria
    Writing Centers have struggled historically with the question of addressing sentence-level concerns, caught between opposing obligations to affirm student voices and provide access to mainstream language conventions—a tension that can be particularly fraught when it comes to supporting translingual students. A year of grant-funded research led us to create a series of training modules that explore the history of grammar in the Writing Center, present institutional research about student desires and expectations, consider how language and identity affect our work as writers and tutors, and practice whether and how to address non-standard language usage. This article, like the training we do with our tutors, argues that sentence-level corrections should be approached as an issue of linguistic social justice and provides a heuristic to guide tutor decision-making in ways that are sensitive to the complex relationship between the type of potential error, the writer, the tutor, and the context.
  • Item
    Disrupting the Narrative: Cross-National Consultants in a U.S. Graduate Writers’ Studio from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol.19 No.3
    (Praxis, 2022) Lee, Yvonne R.; Zungu, Sinenhlanhla; Joseph Andrews, Varun
    Much scholarship on working with multilingual writers at the undergraduate and graduate levels has been published in Writing Center scholarship. However, there is a dearth in literature regarding how the whiteness that haunts writing center spaces through the idealization of standard U.S. English may affect the experiences of members of minoritized communities (e.g., people of color, international students, non-native English speakers) working in the context of the writing center. This article attempts to fill space in that gap. We approached this project with the belief that writing center spaces can choose to either perpetuate whiteness as the global standard, or they can challenge such a colonial perspective. We believe that writing centers are the ideal spaces for such interrogations to begin. Thus, in this article, we present a conversation between one white, U.S.-born, monolingual writing center director and two writing consultants who are people of color, polylingual, and international, in an effort to inspire others to engage in similar reflexive practices. We believe our stories are most valuable when presented from our personal perspectives. Therefore, we utilize an autoethnographic approach, combining our autobiographical perspectives with research, as we begin to develop a theory of practice for our own space. Our goal is that what follows resonates with those for whom whiteness remains a haunt, whether they have lived in the U.S. their entire lives or have only recently arrived.
  • Item
    Peri-pandemic Graduate Writing Mentorship Program from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol.19 No.3
    (Praxis, 2022) Jiang, Xuan; Salgado, Adrian R.; Glass, Courtney
    Writing support is provided to graduate students in many universities worldwide. This support includes writing classes and advisors’ mentorship, as well as writing center tutoring and organized writing groups, all of which are well documented in the literature. However, the current literature does not represent the diverse population of graduate writers, including international and multilingual students, first-generation college and graduate students, and their more significant writing support needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The current study aims to share the missing voices as a contribution to the literature. In this IRB-approved mixed-methods study, we, the three authors, collected fourteen surveys and ten interviews from two cohorts of writing groups in Summer 2021. Via data analysis, we were able to thematize inter-language and affective factors not only within writing but across and for writing. We argued that those factors which have been largely neglected are vital to writing as a process. The temporal and spatial factors resulting from the pandemic also offer more considerations for other writing centers to implement or further refine their forms of support to cater to graduate writers.
  • Item
    Measuring the Effect of Writing Center Visits on Student Performance from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol.19 No.3
    (Praxis, 2022) Zuccarelli, Joseph; Cuningham, Nicholas; Elis, Colleen G.; Lee, Andrew; Cumminskey, Kevin
    Given the recent rise of data science, a growing number of scholars are publishing quantitative studies on the impacts of writing centers. Typically, these studies aim to answer assessment-style questions such as “Who visits the writing center?” and “Are writing center visits effective in terms of increasing student performance?” The majority of these studies feature the application of common statistical approaches such as correlation and regression analysis, which provide useful but limited results. In this article, we apply a more complex statistical method known as propensity score matching in order to identify factors associated with writing center attendance as well as the effect of visits on student written performance. In total, we analyzed two semesters of visits to the Mounger Writing Center (MWC) at the United States Military Academy at West Point and over 2,500 student records of signature writing assignments. We found statistically significant evidence that race and gender are associated with attendance, specifically that women and historically underrepresented students are more likely to visit the writing center for signature writing assignments. We identified the presence of a causal relationship between MWC visits and student grades on signature writing assignments, as those who visited the MWC multiple times received grades approximately 2% greater on average compared to those who did not visit. Ultimately, this article provides administrators with a more robust quantitative framework to assess the efficacy of their writing center, thus enabling for more informed programmatic decisions.
Permission for electronic dissemination of Praxis is granted. Reproduction in hardcopy/print format for educational purposes or by non-profit organizations such as libraries and schools is permitted. For all other uses of Praxis, advance written notice is required. Send inquiries to