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Friday, March 03, 2006

Rocky Mountain Peer Tutoring Conference 2006, part 1

Brigham Young University is hosting the 2006 Rocky Mountain Peer Tutoring Conference, which serves as my IWCA region's (RMWCA) writing center conference. Generally we have snow for the conference but since the weather in the Rocky Mountains is extraodinarily unpredictable we have windy weather with temperatures soaring to the 60s! Rest assured, however, snow is predicted for tomorrow and what with RMPTC's reputation (the great blizzards of 1996-2003) we'll be seeing the icier side of Provo, Utah tomorrow.

Today's session consisted of our Regional Business Meeting lead by Charlene Hirschi of Utah State University. She showed off the web site that her folks have been working on (sorry I neglected to write down the URL) and presented the RMWCA bylaws for the director's approval. The bylaws (with slight modification to the terms of the officers) was approved without unanimously.

We then moved on to the director presentations from Julie Clark Simon of Southern Utah University, Matthew Haslam from Brigham Young, and Michael Mattison the new director of the Boise State Univesity Writing Center (Michael took over from Rick Leahy this fall--Rick having retired. We'll certainly miss Rick, but Michael is an excellent addition to our small Rocky Mountain group.) Julie discussed issues with Institutional Review Boards and how best to approach them and get research work approved. I was surprised to discover that student surveys fall under an IRB's purview. Matthew talked about discipline specific writing tutoring. Matt coordinates the Psychology Lab at BYU which specializes in working with psychology student writers. The directors discussed how generalist writing centers can function in a acadmic world that is so differentiated by various disciplines. Finaly, Michael gave a thought provoking presentation on director observation in the writing center and how we can prevent it from just becoming a panopticon, and strive for true collaborative/reflective learning in our centers.

We then sojourned to another part of the giant new building they hosted us in and had a tasty dinner of salads provided by the BYU Art Museum. We chatted informally about the peer tutoring sessions tomorrow and met with Steve Sherwood, our keynote speaker.

Penny Bird, Conference Host, is to be commended for her work.

Stay tuned tomorrow for semi-live conference blogging!

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