Conferences and Research

CWAC is a hub for research on campus. Each year, student writing advisers, faculty and staff collaborate on research projects and share their work at conferences at both the regional and international levels.

Spring 2016: Writing Advisers present their research to their fellow advisers before presenting at a conference.

Current Research Projects:

"Whose Line is it Anyway? Collaboration and Intellectual Property"

Where does collaboration end and plagiarism begin? Are ideas that are discovered during sessions partially the intellectual property of the writing adviser? During the April 2017 Crossings Conference in Reno, Nev., Katherine Hahn, Sabrina Nguyen, and Tereza Kramer shared data from their first round of research -- surveys of writing advisers and interviews of professors and students on their perspectives on collaborative writing.


"Taboo Topics: Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable"

We-- Jewelisa Harrison '17, Maddie Campbell '18, and Sabrina Barr '19-- discussed the process of integrating safe space pedagogy into writing centers and classrooms so dialogue can be more comfortable and productive. We did this by raising questions and suggesting some practical solutions based on primary and secondary research. Our panel provided recommendations and suggested techniques for approaching taboo topics that are uncomfortable in nature. Taboo topics are “beliefs that constrain actions by making certain behaviors and discussion topics forbidden or discouraged”(Evans, Avery, and Pederson). Through this presentation and ensuing discussion, we reached a deeper understanding of issues that are often overlooked due to fear and ignorance.


"Building Codes: Scaffolding Writing through Interdisciplinary Engagement"

When writing outside of their discipline, many students stifle their own creative voices in order to meet specific writing guidelines. Our group-- Steven Wieser '18, Katie Hill '18, and Camilla Marais '19-- exploreed how facilitated writing workshops and interdisciplinary dialogue can enable students to be both the architects and constructors of their own writing despite strict "building codes." First, we evaluated surveys that we collected from Seminar 104 students that participated in facilitated group capstone workshops in the center. Then, we connected those evaluations to secondary research that we conduced on interdisciplinary work and writing instruction. We presented our findings in a panel presentation at the Northern California Writing Center Association conference in Reno, Nevada.


"Assessment of High School Writing Needs and Potential Collaborations with SMC"

During the Spring 2016 semester, former Administrative Assistant Jaquelyn Davis '15 and Director Tereza Joy Kramer, worked with four veteran writing advisers--Ruth Sylvester '16, James Seo '16, Matthew Gahagan '16, and Maria-Elena Diaz '17--to conduct a needs assessment at Mount Diablo High School, evaluating the kinds of writing support, such as training or resources, that its students and faculty want and need. Research instruments included interviews and surveys of the high school students and faculty, plus norming and coding of high school student essays. The Saint Mary's research team consulted frequently with Mount Diablo faculty, seeking advice and revisions, and researched writing-center scholarship and best practices in secondary-school pedagogy. Saint Mary’s students compiled all of this data into a report to be presented to Mount Diablo stakeholders. The goal was to not only benefit the high school students and faculty but also help Saint Mary’s students grow as scholars, researchers, and engaged professionals.


"Integrating Approach and Ethos: Creating a Writing Center/WAC Program through Collaborative Leadership"

This chapter, co-authored by Director Tereza Joy Kramer and three CWAC alums -- Jaquelyn Davis '15, Holland Enke '15, and Reyna Olegario '14 -- explores the ways that Tereza has evolved as a Writing Program Administrator (WPA) over the years, in collaboration with student leaders and particularly in the last five as the head of Saint Mary's College's combined Writing Across the Curriculum and writing center program. The authors argue that letting go of power in order to empower builds connectivity of all voices, toward a sort of collective elevation. They discuss why applying a “writing center ethos” to all aspects of WPAship has been so beneficial at Saint Mary’s, for students, faculty, and the WPA herself; and more broadly, they suggest that such a model of collaborative leadership can change the position of an entire writing program on campus.


"Case Study: Assessing the Impact of WID Curriculum and Writing Circles on Student Writing"

Director Tereza Joy Kramer and Associate Director Joe Zeccardi, Kinesiology Professors Rebecca Concepcion and Steve Miller, Librarian Josh Rose, and several Writing Circle Facilitators are conducting research to assess the impact of changes to course curriculum through WID pedagogy, plus student participation in Writing Circles, on the Saint Mary’s Habits of Mind learning outcomes for students. This study looks specifically at the use of writing (brainstorming, collaborating, outlining, researching, drafting, revising, and reflecting) to enhance intellectual discovery and unravel complexities of thought within the discipline and the Critical Thinking Learning Outcome 4, "to evaluate and synthesize evidence for the purpose of drawing valid conclusions." This research will inform revisions to Writing Circles, Writing across the Curriculum, and Writing in the Disciplines, and it will provide the foundation for future assessment of these programs.