Building Writing Center Assessments that Matter

by William J. Macauley, Jr. and Ellen Schendel

"Building Writing Center Assessments that Matter by Ellen Schendel and William J. Macauley, Jr. should be on the reading list for all writing center directors."

Assessing Writing


No less than other divisions of the college or university, contemporary writing centers find themselves within a galaxy of competing questions and demands that relate to assessment—questions and demands that usually embed priorities from outside the purview of the writing center itself. Writing centers are accustomed to certain kinds of assessment, both quantitative and qualitative, but are often unprepared to address larger institutional or societal issues. In Building Writing Center Assessments that Matter, Schendel and Macauley start from the kinds of assessment strengths already in place in writing centers, and they build a framework that can help writing centers satisfy local needs and put them in useful dialogue with the larger needs of their institutions, while staying rooted in writing assessment theory.

The authors begin from the position that tutoring writers is already an assessment activity, and that good assessment practice (rooted in the work of Adler-Kassner, O'Neill, Moore, and Huot) already reflects the values of writing center theory and practice. They offer examples of assessments developed in local contexts, and of how assessment data built within those contexts can powerfully inform decisions and shape the futures of local writing centers. With additional contributions by Neal Lerner, Brian Huot, and Nicole Caswell, and with a strong commitment to honoring on-site local needs, the volume does not advocate a one-size-fits-all answer. But, like the modeling often used in a writing consultation, examples here illustrate how important assessment principles have been applied in a range of local contexts. Ultimately, Building Writing Assessments Centers that Matter describes a theory stance toward assessment for writing centers that honors the uniqueness of the writing center context, and examples of assessment in action that are concrete, manageable, portable, and adaptable.


William J. Macauley Jr. is professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. His work has been published by several presses, including Utah State University Press, Heinemann Boynton/Cook, and Hampton Press, and in a number of journals including The Writing Lab Newsletter, Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, The International Journal of Engineering Education, and The American Biology Teacher. Macauley and Nicholas Mauriello won the 2007 IWCA Outstanding Book Award for their collection Marginal Words, Marginal Work? Tutoring the Academy in the Work of Writing Centers.

Ellen Schendel is associate professor of writing and director of the Fred Meijer Center for Writing & Michigan Authors at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. At Grand Valley, she teaches academic and professional writing courses. Her scholarship focuses mainly on writing assessment and writing program administration and has been published in WPA: Writing Program Administration, Assessing Writing, Writing Lab Newsletter, Journal of Advanced Composition, The Journal of Writing Assessment, and several edited collections. She serves on the editorial boards of Composition Studies, WPA: Writing Program Administration, and The Journal of Writing Assessment.

Imprint: Utah State University Press

Book Details

  • Paperback Price: $29.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-87421-816-9
  • Ebook Price: $23.95
  • EISBN: 978-0-87421-834-3
  • Publication Year: 2012
  • Pages: 234
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by William J. Macauley, Jr. and Ellen Schendel
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87421-816-9
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission