UPS hosts national tutoring conference

It is all too easy to view a college or high school student who acts as a tutor as being the “smart” one, and the student being tutored as someone less gifted who “needs help.”

But what if it were you seeking a bit of help with your studies? How would it feel to be seen as the slower student, the needy student? Put yourself in those shoes, and you probably can’t get out the door fast enough.

As writing center directors can tell you — this is not the optimal environment for students to learn in. Writing centers — spaces in colleges and high schools where students familiar with a particular subject are trained as “peer tutors” to assist other students — have become increasingly aware that “attitudes matter” if they are to assist the learning of all students.

The 2016 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, November 4–6, will address this issue and bring together some of the latest research and thinking to help peer tutors and writing center directors make their centers a more inclusive space. Teachers interested in helping their students understand how to assist one another with studies or who are thinking of setting up a writing center also are welcome.

“It’s for Everyone: The Inclusive Writing Center” will be hosted by University of Puget Sound  from Friday, Nov. 4 to Sunday, Nov. 6. Events will be held at venues including the Puget Sound campus, Hotel Murano, and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Registration is $145 for students and $245 for professionals. Teachers can earn continuing education clock hours for attendance.

“Our aim is to explore the question of how we can more effectively serve all students, particularly those who may be otherwise marginalized by the academy,” said Julie Nelson Christoph, conference chair and director of University of Puget Sound’s Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching.

“Recent scholarship has become concerned about what scholar Nancy Grimm calls the “new racism” in writing centers, a paternalistic attitude that extends beyond race to include issues of language, disability, school preparation, and other markers of difference,” Christoph continued. “This is an important opportunity to learn more about being intentional in how we create and staff these writing centers.”

Christoph expects the conference to attract more than 475 attendees from at least 40 states and Canada based on current registrations. The event will feature presentations by peer tutors and writing center directors.

Stephanie L. Kerschbaum, author of Toward a New Rhetoric of Difference, will present the keynote speech at a 9 a.m. breakfast and awards ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Hotel Murano in downtown Tacoma. Kerschbaum is associate professor of English at University of Delaware, where she teaches writing, disability studies, and graduate seminars in rhetoric and writing. Her book addresses issues of diversity in higher education, institutional racism, and the teaching of writing.

Conference sessions will focus on topics such as: developing inclusive strategies; preparing high school educators for peer-to-peer learning in the classroom; designing welcoming spaces; miscommunication, verbal and nonverbal; cultural communication styles; science students and peer review; the effects of tutoring on tutors; hiring diverse writing center staff; and writing centers as agents of language policy change; among many other issues. Click on the link below for the schedule.

The National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing is a nonprofit professional organization that promotes the teaching of writing through collaborative learning. It provides a forum for tutors and writing center staff to share and present research at national and international conferences.

National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing 

University of Puget Sound, Nov. 4-6

For registration, schedule:

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– University of Puget Sound