Creative Staffing For the Community College Writing Center in an Era of Outsourced Education
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Ask anyone who works in a community college writing center to list the challenges they face, and staffing will undoubtedly be among their top concerns. Developing a successful community college writing center means first asking the question, “What kind of assistance do students need?” The question that follows is almost always, “Who should provide this assistance?” Staffing a community college writing center poses a set of problems unique to the two-year higher education environment. The recent popularity of contracted, third-party, for-profit tutoring services contributes significantly to these complexities. Thirdparty tutoring service firms often include a writing lab as part of a package deal with services for other, highdemand support, typically in STEM fields. Attempting to fill gaps in those high-demand areas, college administrators see writing tutoring as an included bonus in the package; but, outsourced tutoring comes with a hefty price tag for the subscription, as well as administrative costs associated with implementation, advertising the service to students, and teaching both faculty and students how to access and use it. More significantly, the practices these companies employ are often at odds with the pedagogical standards embraced by the writing center professional community.