Conference Program

13th Annual SLAC-WPA 2020 Conference

Difficult Questions: The Role of Writing and Writing Programs at Small Liberal Arts Colleges

January 10-11, 2020 | Franklin & Marshall College | Lancaster, PA

Friday, January 10  All Events at the Lancaster Holiday Inn

1:30 – 2:00 pm: Franklin & Marshall College Dean’s Welcome and SLAC-WPA President’s Remarks

2:00 – 3:50 pm: Speedshares (2 rounds 25 minutes each)

Speed sharing includes ten-minute presentations that preview a new strategy, technique, or arrangement in tutoring, teaching, or administering writing. The subject of the presentations may not focus on the conference theme of difficult questions. Speed sharing keeps us informed of new developments in the field, novel administrative arrangements, ideas for assessment, strategies for staffing, skills for stretching tight budgets, thoughts about faculty development, etc.

Speedshare Round 1 — 2:00 – 2:50 pm

A. Hannah Bellwoar, Carol Peters, Laura Feibush (Juniata College, Pt 1)

B. Anne Berry (St. Olaf College)


2:50 pm – 3:00 pm: Break

Speedshare Round 2 — 3:00 – 3:50 pm

A. Hannah Bellwoar, Carol Peters, Laura Feibush (Juniata College, Pt 2)

B. Genie Giaimo (Middlebury College)

C. Meredith McCarroll (Bowdoin College)


3:50 – 4:00 pm:  Break

4:00 – 4:30 pm:  SLAC-WPA Members Business Meeting

4:30 – 500 pm:  Break

5:00 – 6:00 pm:  Reception

6:00 pm: Dinner

Saturday, January 11 All events at Franklin & Marshall

9 am – noon: Workshops (2 concurrent)

Workshops are a new SLAC-WPA conference format. These three-hour workshops will be hands-on and interactive, and should result in a developed take-home idea or project. Conference participants will be asked to rank their workshop preference at the time of conference registration to help with room planning.

Workshop 1. “The Difficult Question of Writing Assessment Practices,” Megan O’Neill, Stetson University

Questions around writing assessment pose particular challenges. Who should do the assessment? How can results be reported effectively? Who has access to the data? What are strong “closing the loop” strategies? How shall assessment initiatives be resourced? In this 3-hour, hands-on workshop, participants will share their own institutional practices, challenges, and results around writing assessment (sites including writing centers, writing programs, first year writing, WAC/WID/WEC writing structures, and other instructional forms). Following a frank and open discussion around the difficult questions of assessment, the workshop will help participants understand a SLAC-based set of best practices. Finally, the workshop will create opportunities for participants to develop effective processes for assessment at their home institutions. Participants will take away helpful documents, plans, and next steps. While participants with all levels of familiarity with assessment practices can benefit from the workshop, it will be most useful for participants who are relatively new to their positions or relatively new to assessment, planning, and reporting.

Workshop 2.  “Ethical Quandaries and Promising Practices in Working with International and Domestic Multilingual Writers,” Shawna Shapiro, Middlebury College, Rebeca Fernández, Davidson College

Working with multilingual writers at times raises difficult ethical questions: What do we owe students, in terms of support and advocacy? How do we “level the playing field” without “lowering the bar”? How can we promote a progressive orientation to language difference, while still preparing students for the (linguistically unjust) world as it is?

In this 2.5 hour workshop, we will explore the above questions, providing concrete strategies and scenarios to ground the discussion. We begin with a conversation about issues related to recruitment, placement, and adjustment. Next, we review institutional strategies and resources for supporting international and other multilingual students. We then shift to curriculum and instruction, looking at ways to promote Critical Language Awareness in writing courses, tutor training, and conversations with faculty and staff colleagues. We conclude with some lingering questions to consider as we seek to promote a sense of belonging and tap into the assets of both international and domestic multilingual writers. The remaining half-hour of the 3-hour block will be available for extended discussion.

12:00 – 1:30 pm:  Lunch and Writing Center Tour

1:30 – 4:20 pm: Roundtables (2 concurrent sessions)

Roundtables provide the opportunity for discussion of multiple perspectives around a common question, theme, or shared institutional practice. Facilitators will provide a framing presentation and then will offer motivated questions related to one or more of the “difficult questions” connected to the theme of the conference to spark discussion.

Roundtable Session 1 — 1:30 -2:50 pm

A: “Placement Practices for Multilingual Writers at Small Liberal Arts Colleges,” Ghada Gerwash, Colby College, Natalie Mera Ford, Swarthmore College, and Barbara Hall, Haverford College

B: “Deliberation, Democracy and First-Year Writing,” Van E. Hillard, Davidson College

C: “From Individual Thoughts to Institutional Actions:Navigating Curricular Reform and Organizational
Change from a 3rd Space,” Katrina Bell and Aaron Stoller, Colorado College

2:50 – 3:00 pm:  Break

Roundtable Session 2 — 3:00 – 4:20 pm

A. “Activity Theory as Tool for SLAC Writing Program Development and Assessment,” Chris Hassay, Meg Mikovits, and Crystal Fodrey, Moravian College

B. “The Thesis Wheel,” Christine Perrin, Kerry Hasler-Brooks, and Lucas Sheaffer, Messiah College

C. “Training Undergraduate Peer Tutors as Part of a Liberal Arts Curriculum,” Marion Wolfe, Kenyon College

4:20 – 4:45 pm:  Closing