Beyond Institutional Neglect, Silos, and Back Doors:
The Evolution of Graduate Writing Support
Sherry Wynn Perdue
Director, Oakland University Writing Center
President, International Writing Centers Association
Graduate Research Assistant, Oakland University Writing Center
Doctoral Student, Psychology
In this plenary address, a writing center director and a graduate research assistant (1) narrate the evolution of one institution’s programming for graduate writers and their supervisors (research-informed, of course) and (2) share emergent concerns about sustainability across three acts. While we remain proud of what we have accomplished–and are compiling a growing body of data to demonstrate the measurable impact of these efforts–we find ourselves asking whether or not the colon in our title should be replaced with a question mark. We therefore invite attendees to discuss the implications of our story for yours and to envision potential next steps in Act Four.
Entering the Lifeworld of Graduate Students: Qualitative Research, Intentional Reflection, and Inclusive Pedagogy
Megan M. Siczek
Associate Professor and Director, English for Academic Purposes, George Washington University
How do we meet our graduate students where they are? It starts with looking back on our own lived experiences and being able to say, to quote Kamala Harris, “that little girl was me.” This reflective awareness sets the stage for a deeper understanding of others, grounded in the fundamental proposition that our consciousness links us to the world. By intentionally entering into the experience of others, according to McCaffrey, Raffin-Bouchal, and Moules (2012), “our presuppositions are thrown into relief, exposed in new ways, and made available for revision” (p. 217). This plenary combines findings from qualitative research into graduate students’ lived experience in higher education with an intentional approach to reflection, inviting the audience to remember who they were and what they experienced at various points of transition in their lives. By reading ourselves into graduate students’ lived experiences, as illuminated through qualitative research, we can adopt a pedagogy that honors their sociocultural histories and needs while preparing them for the communicative expectations of their graduate programs and professional futures.
Professionalizing Graduate Students in Team Communication and Collaboration
Founding Director, Global Communication Center, Carnegie Mellon University
For graduate students in STEM and other fields, teamwork is an essential part of their graduate experience, but teamwork skills tend to be sporadically taught. This talk will present new research on conflict and communication, describing evidence-supported best practices for responding to common team conflicts and overviewing successful strategies for teaching graduate students how to adopt these practices in their own interpersonal communications.
Keynote Speaker Bios
Sherry Wynn Perdue, Ph.D., is a writing center director who hails from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Her service to the writing center community includes leadership as President of the International Writing Centers Association and as Past President of the East Central Writing Centers Association. Dr. Wynn Perdue’s publications on evidence-based research in writing centers, dissertation supervision, information literacy, and undergraduate research have appeared in The Writing Center Journal, Education Libraries, Journal of Academic Librarianship, Perspectives in Undergraduate Research and Mentoring, and Lawrence and Zawacki’s (2019) Re/Writing the Center: Approaches to Supporting Graduate Students in the Writing Center. In addition to penning her own scholarship, she has served as Co-editor of The Peer Review, Managing Editor of The Oakland Journal, and Editor of Re-Visions: Journal of the Women’s Studies Program at Michigan State University.
When not engaged in academic pursuits, Sherry enjoys spending time in Northern Michigan with her husband Don, taking long walks with her Standard Poodle Pike, and composing vignettes for her memoir, Married on a Monday—7 ½ Years Later—and Other Quirky Tales of an Academic Storyteller.
Victoria O’Connor, M.A., is currently a PhD student at Oakland University studying Psychology. She has received her undergraduate and masters degrees in animal behavior and conservation.
At the Oakland University Writing Center, she is the sole Graduate Research Assistant at the Writing Center. There, she consults one-on-one with undergraduate and graduate clients to help writers better articulate their research methods and statistical findings to support claims of validity, significance, and helps to coordinate and host graduate writing retreats and workshop series. She thoroughly enjoys conducting, presenting, and publishing empirical research on writing center interventions and issues, with current projects including Athletics and Literacy Development, Measuring Stress in the Writing Center and Graduate Students’ Academic Writing Beliefs, Practices, Support, and Help Seeking.
When not at her computer, she enjoys spending time outdoors in Michigan, or her native New Jersey, with her rescue Great Pryenees, Oakley, and her large, close-knit family.
Megan Siczek, Ed.D., Megan Siczek is an associate professor of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Her research interests include second language writing, the internationalization of higher education, and global education discourses. She has written a number of book chapters and published articles in the Journal of English for Academic Purposes,Journal of Response to Writing, TESL Canada Journal, Educational Policy, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, and the Journal of International Students. She is the author of the book International Students in First-year Writing: A Journey through Socio-academic Space and is working on a new edited collection entitled Pedagogical Innovations in Oral Academic Communication.
Joanna Wolfe, Ph.D., is Teaching Professor in the Department of English and former Director of the Global Communication Center at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the author of Team Writing: A Guide to Working in Groups and the forthcoming series in Modular Professional and Technical Communication by MacMillan Publishing. Her research on teamwork has received multiple national or international awards and has been funded by the National Science Foundation. The Global Communication Center served over 3,000 graduate students annually, most in STEM-focused disciplines, in one-on-one communication tutoring sessions or workshops per year.