Are Our Workshops Working? Assessing Assessment as Research
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I’m not alone when I say I’ve spent time grappling with assessment. The final issue of Writing Lab Newsletter includes a series of reflections on the topic, responding specifically to Neil Lerner’s seminal 1997 article on assessment, “Counting Beans and Making Beans Count.” Even more pertinent to my purposes is Holly Ryan and Danielle Kane’s contribution to Writing Center Journal, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Writing Center Classroom Visits: An Evidence-Based Approach.” Similar to Ryan and Kane, I’ve been evaluating writing center classroom visits. More specifically, I’ve been evaluating Franklin and Marshall College’s writing center’s in-class workshop program. Ten years ago, we began offering workshops on topics with which faculty members felt their students struggled, ranging from higher-order, macro-concerns like constructing a strong thesis statement to lowerorder, micro-concerns like correctly using commas. Now I direct the program, preparing presentations with examples and exercises, and turning the materials over to the Center’s undergraduate tutors, who lead the sessions.