The Ableism of The DOCX File Type

     As composition continues to occur more frequently on digital mediums, institutions must question digital file types in terms of their accessibility. An unquestioningly and commonly used but inaccessible file type used by instructors is the DOCX file.        The DOCX file fails to be accessible due to a variety of structures built within the file type’s coding. DOCX files are, “not suitable for interactive help” (MS Word DOCX) this means, for example, that text-to-speech functions cannot be added to DOCX files. Furthermore, DOCX files limit program choice as they can only be run on, “a limited number of special software[s]” (Kivi) this can force students with dis/abilities to use unaccommodating programs. This program limitation comes from the very design of DOCX files which are, “a collection of XML files containing different types of content zipped in an archive. [DOCX files require] specific software with capabilities of correctly reading the XML contents and their dependencies,

Multimodal Availability for those with Dis/abilities at Writing Centers

     Writing centers should increase the availability of multimodal tutoring tools if they wish to grant equitable access to writing improvements for students with dis/abilites. Allison Hitt properly identifies that, “spaces [should not be simply] minimally accessible, but instead [be able] to consider how the disabled may be able to most fully participate.” Some advocate for multi-literacy as the biggest key to granting students with dis/abilities access to writing centers. However, it is multimodality that grants students with dis/abilities equitable access to tutoring services. Multimodal tools are more useful for a wider range of students with dis/abilities than multi-literacy tools. Furthermore, multimodal pedagogies can more easily push for assistive technologies than multi-literacy centers. In addition, multimodality is a form of multi-literacy that covers more ground than standard multi-literacy tools can cover. Writing centers must provide tutors with up-to-date technologies a

A Nearly Septuagenarian’s Adventures with Purdue Owl

  A Nearly Septuagenarian’s Ad ventures with Purdue Owl January 9, 2023 As a student, the Purdue Owl website was a source of great comfort for me. It seemed almost a tangible, billowy, yet safe and confining space; kind of like those bounce-houses filled with balls for kids. I would flit among MLA and APA and general writing tips: pulling up a sample reference page here, making sure I knew the difference between effect and affect there, and ended up by checking an in-text citation for a quote within a quote. I haven’t perused Purdue Owl’s website in some time, so, it is disconcerting to find it is completely tied into Purdue University’s writing lab. Now, you can also more readily access various sections of the style guide directly from the browser. If, for example, you want to check to cite a poster in APA format, Purdue Owl’s information is listed among the many sites you can choose in your browser. I can see how advantageous this fine-tuning is, and, in fact, I have already ma

The Importance of Being Both A Tutor And A Learner

As a frightened freshman, I wandered deep in the bowels of the library basement. My eyes darted from room number to room number, looking for the aid my professor promised I could find. At the end of the hall, a golden light shone from an open doorway. My approach was slow and I lingered on the threshold. All uncertainty vanished when I was greeted with a smile and welcomed into the new world of the Tutoring Center. At the time, I did not know I would spend most of my weekdays in that room as a senior or how mundane this new world would become. How could I? I didn’t even know how much insight I would receive from my tutor that day! Being a learner in the writing center is a wholly different experience than being a tutor, yet I know many of my colleagues have not had the same learning experiences that I have. I think this is unfortunate because there is much that a tutor can gain from being a learner. It was my freshman year of college and everything was new. For me, that meant that fear

Return of the Native

Way back when PeerCentered kicked off in the late 1990's, it was a live, real-time online discussion group conducted in a text-based chat system. Peer tutors from around the world gathered to talk about topics relevant to their work. As you might imagine, regular live online meetings weren't even remotely as ubiquitous as they are today, so maintaining and sustaining them was difficult. It was then that PeerCentered shifted towards the blog model that has occupied it since 2002.   With 2022 being the 20th anniversary of the PeerCentered blog, it seems appropriate to celebrate that through returning to our roots and revive the real-time online PeerCentered discussions. This time, however, rather than using a clunky text chat interface, we're going to hold them with live audio and video and all the bells and whistles that such an environment can provide.  Starting in January 2022, we'll have four monthly discussions for peer writing tutors and other interested parties. 

Consulting Like You: How to get in Touch with Your Consulting Style

          I remember my first year as a peer tutor at my high school’s writing center. I could not have been more than fifteen years old when I went to my very first orientation session. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I was enthusiastic to learn. That year, the managers of my center were very excited to tell us all about something called minimalist theory. Minimalist theory is a consulting style that focuses on getting students to think for themselves. I won’t go too much in depth here, but if you want to know more I wrote a different article on the subject called “Minimalist Theory: When and When not to Use it.”            The managers pushed this theory pretty hard, undoubtably because they wanted us to focus on practicing it. However, in doing so I, as an itty-bitty baby consultant, internalized the message that minimalist theory was the only way to teach writing. This was a problem for a number of reasons but the main one is that minimalism is most certainly NOT th

Tutoring High School Writers in Early Access University Writing Courses

by Al DeCiccio, Marina Abate, Haley Noone, Harley Pereira, and Bill Coyle (Salem State University), with Alexandra Kirby (Salem High School) Tom Deans and Jason Courtmanche have described how a college or university writing center can help change “incoming student attitudes toward writing” (58). This brief piece presents tutor and tutee evidence for their assertion. Tutors from the Salem State University Writing Center have reflected on their experiences tutoring early access Salem High School students enrolled in the University’s first-year writing course and a first-year history course. The high school students have also reflected on the tutoring they received. High School Students’ Reflections One of the Salem High School teachers provided responses from students answering this question: “How did tutoring help you grow as a writer?” ·          The tutors helped me expand my vocabulary, dig for deeper meanings, and find solutions to writing obstacles. ·          They help

Privatized v. Academic Online Tutoring: Determining the Effectiveness of Platforms

  Testing Online Tutoring Online tutoring may be a constant of the tutoring landscape, but the question of effectiveness remains. Which organizations are best prepared to meet the needs of students: writing centers affiliated with universities or “professional” tutoring agencies, such as Pearson-Smarthinking? It is this question I intend to address in conducting a proposed experiment. Important Background Information  The concept most central to this proposed experiment is that of knowledge claims. In his book Reformers, Teachers, Writers: Curricular and Pedagogical Inquiries , Neal Lerner identifies the three primary types of knowledge claims that appear in a writing center:  “writerly knowledge,” “emotional knowledge,” and “role knowledge” (Lerner 115).  “Role knowledge” is arguably the most important knowledge claim (Lerner 115).  While analyzing transcripts of student sessions, Lerner noticed there was a correlation between the presence of “role knowledge” claims and the “success”

Dear Me Blog

  Dear me… As a junior in college, you were just trying your best and going through the motions  (like everyone else) . You  wanted  to fit in and emulate what you thought a typical college student should look like. Then, along came the opportunity to become a  w riting  c onsultant.  That’s immediately when the fear started, I began questioning myself and my own personal writing. I was unsure how I, a typical college student, would have enough skills to help others.  How would I manage being insecure with myself when I was supposed to be someone my peers looked to find their own confidence? When it came to your first day of work, you were sitting in the writing lab waiting for your learner to show up with anxiety pouring out of your body. It was probably the most anxious you ever got in your life - aside from applying to college in the first place. You were so excited to  meet your colleagues, yet so nervous that you were going to disappoint them.  Thoughts streamed through your head