Southwestern Michigan College March 23-25 hosts the 39th annual East Central Writing Centers Association (ECWCA) conference in collaboration with Mattawan High School Writing Center.
Theme for the conference is “The Community Lighthouse: How Writing Centers Help Navigate the Changing Tides of Academic Life.”
ECWCA is the oldest writing center conference in existence, created in 1978 to foster communication, encourage scholarship, promote research and develop effective practices among colleagues in secondary, community college and university writing centers.
SMC Learning Center Tutoring Support Services Coordinator Louis Noakes expects 162 presenters and about 90 presentations from more than 40 schools in Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
Noakes also organized the Michigan Writing Centers Association’s 20th annual Ideas Exchange SMC hosted Oct. 17, 2015, which 145 attended from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
Kyle Boswell, who founded Mattawan High School’s writing center in 2009, was keynote speaker for the Ideas Exchange and returns as featured speaker before lunch on Friday, March 24.
She previously worked for Western Michigan University as a writing consultant and undergraduate assistant director.
Featured dinner speaker Jill Reglin, Lansing Community College’s writing center coordinator as well as a faculty member, closes out Friday.
On Saturday, March 25, Dr. Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University associate professor, concludes the conference.
Hicks directs the Chippewa River Writing Project and additionally worked on Project WRITE beginning in 2007. He is a published author/co-author and member of numerous professional organizations.
Hicks’ topic is “Can I Cite That?: Examining What Counts as Evidence in a Digital World.”
In an era of fake news and alternative facts, it has become increasingly complicated to think about what “counts” as evidence in academic writing.
Long gone are days when writers could simply trust a “.org” or “.edu” site or be told to dismiss Wikipedia as unreliable.
Building on the Association of College and Research Libraries “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education,” Hicks will examine the tensions — and possibilities — that arise when writers use different kinds of text (including images, videos, tweets and blog posts) as evidence in academic argument.
Hicks, who grew up in Jackson, will also explore the boundaries of copyright and fair use, exploring the intersections of these legal issues with ethical issues of plagiarism and citation.
Reglin said there are many challenges in the community college writing center world, from staffing to service mergers with other student support areas.
“There’s lots of disagreement at two-year colleges whether students are qualified to be tutoring peers,” Reglin said. “Peers have a natural synergy. They can talk shop with each other without intimidation or a power dynamic. I see my own students shy in class, reluctant to come to office hours, more engaged in a peer setting. They are willing to express to peers things they don’t share with others — especially teachers. It’s more of an issue at two-year colleges because we don’t have English majors.”
“Staffing challenges and conflation of student services have periodically been topics,” observed Reglin, who started MWCA in 1994 while a graduate student at the Michigan State University writing center.
The Alma College graduate is from Milford, between Brighton and Novi.
With three speakers, ECWCA features a pre-conference meet-and-greet at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at SMC’s Niles Campus, where each will have an opportunity to talk with guests and lead small training sessions.
Major conference events such as check-in, breakfast, lunch, dinner and keynote addresses take place at Fred L. Mathews Library and Conference Center on the Dowagiac campus.
Sessions take place in the adjacent Barbara Wood and Foster Daugherty buildings.
Poster sessions will be displayed in Mathews Conference Center West for viewing throughout the day.