Book gives guidelines to assess writing centers

Ellen Schendel has had an interest in writing assessment since she wrote a dissertation on the topic more than 10 years ago.

A book Schendel co-wrote, “Building Writing Center Assessments that Matter,” explores assessing writing centers at universities. Schendel and co-author William J. Macauley focus on how to construct and implement assessments that help staff members better understand and evaluate the work of the writing center.

“They count how many students come for visits, they count how many students come from (different) disciplines, they keep track of what kinds of issues students work on in sessions,” said Schendel, interim associate dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies and director of the Fred Meijer Center Writing and Michigan Authors. “Our book is really getting at what is it that students learn in those 30 minutes, and how do you assess something like that?”

Published in September, the book is already being used in a course on writing assessment at Kent State University. “It could easily be used for graduate classes,” said Schendel. “We knew that it was going to be of interest to people who were interested in writing center research because one of the arguments we make in the book is that assessment is really about doing mini-research projects that help us discover what students learn in our consultations.”

The book is published by Utah State University Press. Journals such as the Writing Lab Newsletter and the Journal of Writing Assessment are reviewing Building Meaningful Writing Center Assessments.

Page last modified March 20, 2013