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A cross‐national view on the organisational perspective of writing centre work: the Writing Centre Exchange Project (WCEP)

Conference contribution
Authors Ann-Marie Eriksson
K Girgensohn
I O'Sullivan
Published in 10th Conference of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing. Gothenburg, July 2-4, 2019
Publication year 2019
Published at Unit for Academic Language
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Keywords writing centre, institutional work, strategic action fields, participatory action research
Subject categories Pedagogical Work


Writing centres are well-researched when it comes to tutoring, writing instruction, and writing centre administration; however, scholarship has often focused on well-developed settings with long traditions in writing, for example, in the US context (Babcock et al. 2012). One common finding has been that writing centre legitimacy often relies on meeting contradictory expectations from the outside as well as the inside of their university organisations (Carter, 2009; Isaacs and Knight, 2014, Monty, 2016), which indicates a need to study writing centres and their activities from an organisational perspective. Therefore, this symposium invites its audience to reflect on findings from a current exchange project targeting ongoing institutional work in three European writing centres at different developing stages: the European University Viadrina, Germany; the University of Gothenburg, Sweden; and, the University of Limerick, Ireland. The Writing Centre Exchange Project (WCEP) is conducted within the framework of participatory action research and designed to explore what similarities and differences emerge in terms of the Girgensohn’s (2017) model of institutional work of writing centre directors. Theoretically, WCEP rests on an understanding of institutional work as “purposive action of individuals and organizations aimed at creating, maintaining and disrupting institutions” (Lawrence and Suddaby, 2006,p. 215). Previous research in this particular area has found that institutional work in writing centres includes specific Strategic Action Fields and collaborative learning as a means to interact with stakeholders (Girgensohn 2017). By reusing Girgensohn’s model, WCEP targets ongoing institutional work intended to establish and sustain missions, goals and activities in and around writing centres. Data consists of observations, semi-structured interviews with centre staff, directors and key stakeholder roles, plus video-recorded focus-group activities. The analytical work rests on multiple methods: qualitative thematic content analysis and video-based interaction analysis. The symposium shares first findings and insights from this kind of participatory action research.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-04-10