Welcome to the Pacific Northwest Writing Centers Association

The purpose of the PNWCA is to further the theoretical, practical, and political interests of writing center professionals, and to encourage dialogue about writing and learning among students, faculty and staff. Membership includes writing center staff from Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, Washington and the Yukon.

Founded and affiliated with the International Writing Centers Association in 2004, the PNWCA and its officers truly wish to represent the needs unique to writing centers in our North American geographical region.

If you're a writing center professional from the region--and, yes, that includes writing tutors, consultants, assistants, and graduate teaching assistants--then we invite you to create an account, explore this site's resources, ask questions, and join conversations.

Below you will find links to the most recent announcements, posts, and news items below.

2014 TYCA-PNW/PNWCA Joint Conference

Changing Landscapes, Changing Literacies
TYCA-PNW and PNWCA Joint Conference 

Washington State University Vancouver
October 10-11, 2014 in Vancouver, WA

Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Sandra Jamieson, Director of Writing Across the Curriculum
Drew University

 Proposal Deadline:
June 30, 2014 

Conference Hotel Information

Conference Registration


It might be argued that the geography of American higher education since the turn of the century has been significantly influenced by our shifting definitions of, and assumptions about, literacy and literacy practices. From Plato’s suspicion of writing and rhetoric in ancient Greece, to the move toward mass education in America at the turn of the nineteenth century, and into our current global culture of technology, both historical and contemporary debates suggest that on the topic of literacy, there is much at stake. In fact, current literacy disputes are contributing to the pressures impacting our students and our profession in very profound ways. Some examples:

  • Over the past decade, education scholars have made great advances in their calls for the teaching of multiple literacies: scientific literacy, quantitative literacy, information literacy, media literacy, and so on. While such concepts have made their way into our institutional curricula, course outcomes, and assignment rubrics, other scholars have countered that the reformulation of “literacy” as “knowledge” has diluted our ability to understand and teach the specific reading and writing skills that many students so sorely require.
  • A “literacy revolution,” as Andrea Lunsford has described it, appears to be in full swing, with students increasingly reading and writing using internet services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Some argue that students are gaining new, more sophisticated literacies in these heavily mediated online social environments, while others argue that reading and writing in digital environments undermines students’ ability to focus, discern, and think critically—the very abilities that are crucial to students’ success in the academies and workplaces of the 21st-century.
  • Federal- and state-level initiatives push for educational “reforms” that are reshaping the face of our college curricula. Across the country, developmental education has come under fire, and there is increasing pressure to “shorten the remedial pipeline,” which some see as an obstacle to student success and completion. Others argue that basic writing, and courses like it, are the life preservers that help to keep vulnerable students afloat in what can often feel like a “sink-or-swim” environment.

And in all cases, literacy access remains a central concern as the social and material conditions of literacy acquisition fluctuate and contract—what Deborah Brandt has identified as an acceleration of literacy expectations and demands in our current historical moment.

These debates are likely owing at least in part to the rupture between common discursive constructions of literacy as a simple, static collection of “skills” on the one hand, and the complex web of actual social practices that constitute the 21st-century topography of human literacies, on the other--literacies that are used, valued, and overvalued in often overtly political ways. This rupture reveals how literacy functions as not only a contested term, but also as social and economic currency, perhaps most especially in our colleges and classrooms where reading and writing take center stage.

Emerging from the borders of that rupture, recent trends in English studies, composition and rhetoric, and writing center theory continually shape and reshape our understandings of literacy and literacies, including both what and how we teach when we teach academic texts, reading, and writing. The resultant renewed understandings of literacy have in turn prompted significant questions for how we support student engagement and enact deep learning. Given this context, and our unique roles in supporting student literacies, how might we rethink and reposition the places and spaces that we inhabit—classrooms, writing centers, computer labs, and the very hallways and grassy quads of our varied postsecondary educational institutions? How might we redefine the current literacy landscape?

We invite you to join us in Vancouver, WA, this October to discuss, reflect on, collectively map—and perhaps in some cases challenge—how we support the teaching of writing in our 21st century colleges and universities.

Possible Topics:

  • Writing centers and writing programs as multi-literacy sites
  • The tutor as literacy sponsor
  • Multilingual literacies and/as rhetorical production
  • Academic literacies and pedagogies
  • Teaching reading and research as rhetorical practice
  • New literacies and technologies
  • Literacy acquisition and writing transfer
  • Peer tutoring strategies and practices
  • Tutor training and faculty development
  • Literacy standards, acceleration, and assessment
  • Basic writing, “remediation,” and the common core
  • Student, tutor, and instructor literacy identities and demographics
  • Literature classrooms/assignments/pedagogies
  • Redefining retention and student success
  • Community literacy programs and projects
  • ESL/EFL programs/pedagogies as literacy sponsors
  • The community college as a site of emerging literacies 

Guidelines: All proposals should address the following: 

  • A particular question, issue, or problem; 
  • A statement of what participants will learn and be able to contribute; 
  • A clear plan for how you will engage participants. 

Session Formats: we encourage a variety of presentation options (all options should allow 15 minutes for discussion, minimum):

a)    50-minute individual presentation

b)   15-minute individual presentations (program chairs will form panels)

c)    50-minute panel presentations: 2-3 individuals present on a central theme

d)   50-minute roundtable discussion: 3-5 presenters address a specific question and facilitate audience discussion

e)    50-minute “ignite” sessions: 5-6 mini-presentations on a central theme (propose as a panel or program chairs will form panels)

f)     50-minute workshops: audience interaction via hands-on practice of a particular learning strategy or central theme

g)    5-minute poster session presentation: posters with accompanying handouts and plan to engage participants in further discussion (program chairs will form poster session groups)

Please log in or register to view the form and submit your proposal.

Call for Papers: Writing Center Theory and Practice

The Winter 2014 (Vol. 18, Iss. 4) Issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly, an independent double-blind-peer-reviewed print journal, is now accepting submissions for its special section on Writing Center Theory and Practice.  Articles may explore issues of theory, practice, and experience in writing center work, including qualitative and empirical studies and discussions of pedagogy.

Friday, March 7 Directors' Day Out at North Seattle

Writing Center Directors,

So, North Seattle Community College is on for hosting our next Director’s Day Out meeting (DDO)  on Friday March 7 from 9 am – 4 pm. We’ll provide a continental breakfast in the morning and some light refreshments in the afternoon. I thought we could leave campus for lunch. There is a nice place right up the street called Saffron Grill that serves Indian and Mediterranean cuisine. 

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