Reflecting on Lerner's bean counting articles.
Neal Lerner's articles on quantitative writing center research
serve as good foundational pieces for those of us who are new to writing
center administration and who are trying to get a grasp on the types of
research we should conduct for both our institutions and the larger
community of writing centers. Though there were already data-collection
measures in place before I began working at my current center,
Lerner's articles are a reminder that our staff must question (and
tweak, if necessary) what we are measuring and how that information is
disseminated. My writing center, in particular, is organizationally
situated alongside other student retention efforts, and it is crucial
for us to explore ways to present data to our university that most
accurately represent how we aide in student success. It is also
beneficial for new administrators to see the progression Lerner made
between his early research and his follow-up article on the flaws of his
initial study, reminding us all of the processes of planning,
conducting, and reporting research. Our reflections on these articles
are timely, too, with a recent issue of the Writing Center Journal and
the 2015IWCA Collaborative @ CCCC focused on quantitative research,
particularly that which is replicable, aggregable, and data-supported
(RAD). This push for RAD research in writing center studies only adds to
the depth of the individual writing center narratives that make up our
community, and I think we need to continue looking for ways to share our
research with those inside (and outside) our spaces.
Florida A&M University
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