Scripps writing professors examine how we define key writing terms

By Dagny Lu ‘15Staff Writer

The Scripps Writing Center is conducting a research project on the ways in which different members of the Scripps academic community define key terms in writing studies. The research is lead by Professors Kathryn Tucker and Glenn Simshaw and is currently in its preliminary stages.

The research was prompted by observed discrepancies in interpretations of key writing terms such as ‘research’ and ‘argument.’ “We observed in our classes, in the Writing Center, and on campus more generally,” said Tucker, “that common vocabulary did not mean common understandings. When discussions got into processes, practices, and products associated with key terms, people often had surprisingly different definitions.”

This discord is thought to be present between Scripps Writing Center tutors and their clients and also between Scripps faculty members and their students.

“Our project seeks to answer the following questions: Do clients and tutors at the Scripps Writing Center understand key terms in writing studies in the same ways, and if not, how do they negotiate their different understandings during a session? How do Scripps Faculty understand these key terms, and how do they convey their understandings to their students when assigning writing?” said Tucker.

By increasing understanding of how Writing Center clients, tutors, and faculty use key terms in writing studies, the research should help improve tutor training and tutor/client interactions, improve students’ awareness of the significance of the key terms in their writing assignments, and provide resources for faculty development.

Professors Tucker and Simsahaw will be presenting their early findings at a roundtable discussion at the upcoming International Writing Center Association Collaborative at the Conference on College Composition and Communication on March 13. Students are encouraged to participate in the study during the Writing Center’s walk-in hours.

“We hope more students will participate in the study so our results will be as significant and valid as possible,” said Tucker.

The Writing Center is open Sunday 7 to 9 p.m. and Monday to Thursday 4 to 6 and 7 to 9 p.m.