The Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction: Principle 14

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OWI Principle 14: Online writing lab administrators and tutors should undergo selection, training, and ongoing professional development activities that match the environment in which they will work.


Return to The Bedford Bibliography of Research in Online Writing Instruction


Anderson, Dana. “Interfacing E-mail Tutoring: Shaping an Emergent Literate Practice.” Computers and Composition, vol. 19, no. 1, 2002, pp. 71–87. Science Direct, 10.1016/S8755-4615(02)00081-6

Anderson argues that the new literacy practices of email “invite—perhaps even require—new literate behaviors, behaviors that, in turn, invoke correspondingly new conceptions of literacy in the writing center” (72). Anderson demonstrates ways in which the new interfaces require different types of literacies and then analyzes the e-mail interface of twenty-one online writing labs (OWLs) to understand how the interface shapes students’ expectations experiences in this medium. The language of the OWL sites indicates specific parameters about the type of student and the type of writing acceptable for the OWL. These limitations, Anderson argues, shape a writer’s goals and expectations about the OWL. Faculty administering OWLs should, therefore, design email portals to reflect the goals of their overall writing center literacy practices. Anderson concludes by introducing language that distinguishes “between first- and second-level representations within OWL email tutoring interfaces (83). She hopes that introducing such language will start a conversation about how OWLs integrate theory and language with literacy practices.

Keywords: literacy, online writing lab, interface, tutoring: English
OWI Principles:  13, 14, 15

Anderson-Inman, Lynne. “OWLs: Online Writing Labs.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 40, no. 8, 1997, 650–54.

Anderson-Inman traces what resources Online Writing Labs (OWLs) offered students and teachers in the late 1990’s. She creates a taxonomy for OWLs and categorizes them as providing “resource materials, online tutoring, and information gateways.” For each category, she lists examples of institutions that are utilizing each type and highlights what they offer students. Research material types provide students with sources for teachers, students, and tutors alike; they range from grammar handouts to handbooks for writers. Online tutoring types offer wider accessibility to students who can’t make it to campus; it can provide “synchronous” one-on-one tutor to student help or it can be used as a “grammar hotline” or email feedback service. Information gateway types serve as a means of guiding students to helpful resources that are housed outside of the OWL on the Internet and lead students to helpful grammatical or punctuation information. The author encourages these online mediums as a means of increasing access for online writing students to on-campus resources.

Keywords: online writing labs, writing resources, tutoring: English
OWI Principles: 1, 14, 15

Arzt, Judy, Kristine E. Barnett, and Jessyka Scoppetta. “Online Tutoring: A Symbiotic Relationship with Writing Across the Curriculum Initiatives.” Across the Disciplines, vol. 6, 2009, pp. 1-15.

Arzt et al. discuss a new program piloted at the small liberal arts school of Saint Joseph College, where they combined online tutoring with more traditional writing center approaches to better support student writing for Writing In the Discipline (WID) and Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) courses. The authors maintain that “Although WAC, WID, writing centers, and writing fellows form a natural nexus, the value of technology in this mix is not firmly established” (1). They piloted the addition of online tutoring within this portfolio of services. The article provides a section describing the history of technology in American college writing centers before describing Saint Joseph College’s program and the high demands it meets. Arzt et al. then report that a survey circulated after their program’s inception (n=101) found that 79% of respondents were very satisfied and 97% would use hybrid writing center services again (7). They found that recruiting experienced students as writing center fellows is beneficial, learning how to tutor online did not take significantly more time than learning to tutor in person, and tutoring was best managed through simple technologies like email. The authors also note that faculty reported better outcomes among supported assignments, and that overall “online tutoring is a natural outgrowth of the face-to-face rapport tutors develop with students” (10)

Keywords: writing center, tutoring, hybrid, online tutoring, WID, WAC, interdisciplinary, rapport, support services
OWI Principles: 4, 11, 14

Ascuena, Andrea, and Michael Mattison. “(Re)Wiring Ourselves: The Electrical and Pedagogical Evolution of a Writing Center.” Computers and Composition Online, Spring 2006,

This web text narrates the experience of refashioning (or “re-wiring”) a little-used OWC at Boise State University around three primary concerns: “How can we design the most efficient, accessible web site for our service? How can we schedule e-mail consultations so as to utilize our consultants’ hours without infringing on their face-to-face sessions? How can we best respond to the essays we receive through e-mail?” Ascuena and Mattison extend the metaphor of working with electricity to name the “circuits” of their re-writing: technology, administration, and pedagogy. They modeled their re-wiring around Temple University’s OWC and implemented a dropbox system for student submissions. They also added web pages for quick questions and for welcoming and thanking the students for using the OWC. The webtext identifies the process the tutors undertook to administer the OWC as student submissions increased. Students who were surveyed about their experiences were positive about the help they received in the OWC. Finally, Ascuena and Mattison outline the process of training their peer tutors for online tutoring, providing a written guide to help the tutors move away from in-text responses and toward more global comments focused on higher-order concerns, just as they would give in face-to-face consultations. This webtext provides a concrete primer for writing centers and writing labs seeking to implement online components of their services and models good practices for responding to student texts in the OWC. 

Keywords: online writing center, tutoring: English, web design
OWI Principles: 13, 14

Babb, Jacob. “Reshaping Institutional Mission: OWI and Writing Program Administration.” Handbook of Research on Writing and Composing in the Age of MOOCs, edited by Elizabeth Monsky and Kristina Blair, IGI Global, 2017, pp. 202–15.


Babb argues that Writing Program Administrators are uniquely positioned as knowledgeable practitioners to lead important change for OWI practices within their university, and they can lead broader institutional change by connecting online learning to the school’s current mission statements.  Using the institutional mission as a backdrop and a starting point for reflection and conversation, WPA’s can improve student learning, contingent faculty working conditions, and online training and technology gaps. As online learning continues to be a driving force within higher education, Babb points to the university mission as a place for conversation, growth, and change. He points out that even the mission itself may need to adapt and change to better reflect and accommodate the education needs and experience brought about by online learning. 


Keywords: faculty development, writing program administration, online education, contingent faculty
OWI:  3, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 15


Bell, Lisa. “Preserving the Rhetorical Nature of Tutoring When Going Online.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011, pp. 351-58.

In this chapter, Bell recounts her experience as a new writing center coordinator who navigates and reframes an existing but not functional OWL. She narrates her experience, beginning with returning to the foundational principles of writing center theory espoused by Stephen North, Mary Dossin, and Joan Hawthorne. She then reviews the current state of the OWL, which consisted primarily of email submissions. Without the face-to-face interaction and meaning making involved in the traditional writing center, Bell felt that some of the tried-and-true methods of tutoring would be difficult to implement in an OWL. In particular, she found that the conversational nature of tutoring, so crucial to the experience of shared meaning-making, was lost when questions were added to a student’s paper and the tutor received no reply. Because synchronous online tutoring sessions take more time to complete, tutors found themselves getting straight to the point of the writing, which took away relationship-building that was the heart of the face-to-face tutoring sessions. Bell also found out that tutors in OWLs needed different types of training than their face-to-face colleagues. She concludes by calling for more research into what makes OWLs effective, research that others have done since this chapter was first published. This article provides those chronicling the shift from face-to-face to online writing centers a snapshot of a single center at a point of transition, a valuable narrative in the longer history of understanding OWLs. 

Keywords:  writing center, online writing lab, synchronous interaction, tutoring: English
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 13, 14

Blythe, Stewart. “Why OWLs: Value, Risk, and Evolution.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996, 

Blythe provides a hypertext in this first article of the first issue of Kairos that provides an overview of the hows, whys, and why nots of online writing labs. The hypertext covers basic considerations of beginning an online writing center, the modalities that OWLs might take, and invites interrogation of the ways that we view theories of technology and how we talk about computers as a part of the discussion of OWLs. This early hypertext, while dated (not all of the hyperlinks still go to active pages), does provide insight to scholars researching the history of OWLs in terms of concerns that scholars and researchers voiced as the OWL moved from the 20th to the 21st century. 

Keywords: online writing lab, modality, hypertext
OWI Principles: 13, 14

Borgman, Jessie. "The Online Writing Program Administrator (OWPA): “Maintaining a Brand in the Age of MOOCs." Handbook of Research on Writing and Composing in the Age of MOOCs, edited by Elizabeth Monsky and Kristina Blair, IGI Global, 2017, pp. 188–201.


This chapter explores issues specific writing program administration considering the huge influx of online writing courses across the country. The author argues that a pedagogical shift has occurred that requires a change in administering writing programs: teaching online is different than teaching face-to-face. Considering this influx and pedagogical shift, the author argues that in the age of MOOCs, focusing on faculty support and the development and maintenance of online writing courses (OWCs) becomes imperative. In order for online writing instructors to focus on what they do best (teaching), they need to be led by someone with online writing instruction (OWI) experience who is trained and qualified to lead a writing program that includes OWCs. The author argues for the development of a new WPA role, an Online Writing Program Administrator (OWPA), in order to distinguish a brand (a concept from Keith Rhodes, 2010) of OWI, which is distinctly different than the instruction and content offered by MOOCs.


Keywords: writing program administration, MOOCs, faculty development, 

course design 

OWI Principles: 7, 8, 9, 14


Bourelle, Tiffany. “Preparing Graduate Students to Teach Online: Theoretical and Pedagogical Practices.” WPA: Writing Program Administration, vol. 40, no. 1, 2016, pp. 90–113


Bourelle describes the eComp program at the University of New Mexico, which prepares TAs who already have experience in the face-to-face classroom for online instruction. The article demonstrates how the program’s pedagogy course aligns with Hewett and Ehmann’s five principles of OWI training and the CCCC Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction. The training includes engaging the TAs in research on programmatic praxis, training them immersively in the online teaching environment, mentoring TAs individually to address their specific needs, creating communities that encourage authentic interaction, and encouraging metacognitive reflection. The article includes a detailed description of how the program works as well as a syllabus from the course. This article provides a follow up to Bourelle and Bourelle (2015), which introduces the eComp program and provides an example of how previous theories and practices for effective online instruction can be put into practice to both train TAs and ensure programmatic alignment and consistency. 


Keywords: graduate education, professional development: Writing, writing program administration

OWI Principles: 4, 7, 14, 15


Bourelle, Andy, Tiffany Bourelle, Anna V. Knutson, and Stephanie Spong. “Sites of Multimodal Literacy: Comparing Student Learning in Online and Face-to-Face Environments.” Computers and Composition, vol. 39, 2016, pp. 55–70.


Bourelle et al. used a mixed-methods approach to compare student learning of multimodal literacies between online and face-to-face first-year composition courses with nearly identical curriculum.  They used quantitative data in the form of portfolio assessment while bringing in excerpts of student work as qualitative data to provide a more robust analysis of their findings. The data revealed that online students scored higher overall on multimodality in the portfolio assessment. The authors suggest that this result is due to the additional support online students receive from course-embedded tutors, as well as to the archival structure of the LMS, which allows students to easily access and review their course work, including class discussions. Bourelle et al. point to the need for further research to support the benefits of embedded tutors in face-to-face courses. They also recommend that face-to-face courses incorporate more practices used in online courses through expanded use of the LMS to house discussions and technological resources. 


Keywords: multimodal literacy, first-year composition, pedagogy, multimodal, student success, course management system

OWI Principles:  2, 3, 13, 14


Breuch, Lee-Ann. “The Idea(s) of an Online Writing Center: In Search of a Conceptual Model.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 25, no. 2, 2005, pp. 21-38. Print.

Breuch recaps the challenges that online writing centers face and the difficulties in finding effective models due to variation. More specifically, varying models do not create a consistent idea of the way online writing centers operate. Conceptual models are explained as an integral piece of online environments that predict and help people to understand the way in which things work. The article divides ideas from conceptual models by three characteristics: 1) people always have an understanding of how things work due to conceptual models, 2) frustration is likely to occur as multiple attempts lead to failure when trying to apply conceptual models, and 3) conceptual models are encouraged to be revised as new technology is released and can be utilized to benefit ideas. Conceptual models are always present, yet not all models work. Thus, some online writing centers struggle. Directive and nondirective ways of learning restrict student learning in online writing centers because student absorb only what is on a screen.  Breuch ends by indicating opportunities for improvement so that learners can benefit from tutoring that involves modern advancements in media and technology.

Keywords: online writing centers, tutoring: English
OWI Principles: 3, 13, 14

Breuch, Lee-Ann Kastman. “Enhancing Online Collaboration: Virtual Peer Review in the Writing Classroom.” Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers, edited by Kelli Cargile Cook and Keith Grant-Davie, Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 141-56. 

Breuch identifies the ways in which face-to-face peer review is both the same as and differs from online peer review. Commonalities include the assumptions that writing is a social act and that writing is a process. The differences in peer review involve space, time, and interaction. Asynchronous technologies for peer review require that students participate in peer review at both different locations and different times, and this fact affects how the students interact in both positive and negative ways. Breuch provides concrete steps to help facilitate peer review for brainstorming, providing reader response, and addressing strengths and weaknesses in the writing. This perspective on peer review demonstrates how similarities and differences in peer review between face-to-face and online environments can lead to equal or more productive experience and calls for additional research to deal with accessibility.

Keywords: tutoring: English, writing process, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 11, 14

Breuch, Lee-Ann Kastman. Virtual Peer Review: Teaching and Learning about Writing in Online Environments. SUNY P, 2004. 

Kastman Breuch explores the question of what is gained and what is lost in moving writing instruction online through the concept of peer review. In doing so, she first investigates the definitions of peer review and virtual peer review, indicating that virtual peer review supports that philosophy that pedagogy must drive technology while also establishing virtual peer review as a “remediation” of traditional, face-to-face peer review (borrowing from Jay Bolter’s concept of remediation). Kastman Breuch then demonstrates how virtual peer review, rather than being better or worse than face-to-face peer review, is different but that those differences, primarily in terms of time, space, and interaction, can be seen as either challenges or benefits. Identifying these differences illuminates how “computer technology privileges written communication over oral communication”--or did so in 2004 and before (52). Because computer technology privileges print and the traditional peer review practice focuses on oral communication, Kastman Breuch argues that the tension between the two paradigms identifies virtual peer review as “abnormal discourse” (55). She identifies the ways in which the literature surrounding face-to-face peer review defines that review around oral discourse, and then argues that “virtual peer review does not rely on the distinctions of speech and writing that were so carefully built in terms of traditional peer review” (70). She coins this new way of thinking about virtual peer review in terms of a “literacy of involvement” that “includes actively reading, writing, and interacting in virtual environments” (79). She provides examples of types of virtual peer review to describe how the collaborative activity involves responding to writing, editing of texts, and the negotiation of shared writing tasks. In addition, technology challenges further complicate the virtual peer review. Finally, Kastman Breuch uses various scenarios for virtual peer review to demonstrate how the “goals we have for writing tasks drive our choices and uses of technology” (110). She identifies how peer review can serve a “transitional role” for instructors moving from face-to-face to computer mediated or online classrooms and how virtual peer review is key to evaluating student writing, in forming and sustaining online writing centers, in writing across the curriculum programs and in workplace writing classrooms. Indeed, many of her predictions have come to pass, while her challenge to consider technology in terms of goals to be accomplished is the bedrock for solid online writing course design.

Keywords: peer review, collaboration, online writing centers, computer-mediated communication, remediation, WAC, technical and professional writing, course and program design: English
OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 14

Breuch, Lee-Ann M., and Sam J. Racine. “Developing Sound Tutor Training for Online Writing Centers: Creating Productive Peer Reviewers.” Computers and Composition, vol. 17, no. 3, Dec. 2000, pp. 245-63. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/S8755-4615(00)00034-7.

Based on experience, Breuch and Racine argue that online writing center tutors need training specific to the task and medium of online writing response. Face-to-face tutoring skills do not directly transfer to successful online writing center responses, especially in a text-only or asynchronous environment. Online tutoring is its own viable learning space and needs its own practices to support student-centered, process-oriented writing center pedagogy. Breuch and Racine recommend that those training online tutors should 1) believe that a text-only environment can invite conversation; 2) develop dialogue-based responses for text-only tutoring; 3) place comments in the front of the text, within the text of the paper, and at the end for best results; and 4) have tutors practice procedures within the online learning environments in which they will perform their duties.  OWI embraces the idea that online tutoring is a worthwhile tutoring option and continues to study best practices and emerging pedagogies among ever changing technologies.

Keywords: tutoring: English online writing center, peer review, tutoring training, asynchronous interaction
OWI Principles: 14 

Cargile Cook, Kelli, and Keith Grant-Davie, editors. Online Education 2.0: Evolving, Adapting, and Reinventing Online Technical Communication. Baywood, 2012. 

The chapters in this collection were solicited ten years after those for the editors’ previous collection, Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers. Given the changes in online education over this decade, this collection focuses on how online writing instruction has changed, what online instructors have learned, and how online programs are sustained. Chapters are organized into three sections: 1) Evolving Programs and Faculty, 2) Adapting to Changing Student Needs and Abilities, and 3) Reinventing Course Contents and Materials. This collection provides insights into innovative instructional strategies, encourages experimentation with and critical reflection on technologies, and suggests that online instructors’ classrooms will thrive with continued training, mentorship, and practice in these environments.

Keywords: course and program design: English, technical and professional writing, instructional design, faculty development, course evaluation, program evaluation: English, mentorship, online writing programs
OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15

Carlson, David A., and Eileen Apperson-Williams. “The Anxieties of Distance: Online Tutors Reflect.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, pp. 285-94.

Carlson and Apperson-Williams studied how online tutors negotiated the sterile territory of online tutoring sessions without the face-to-face contact and rapport building that on-campus tutoring provides. The authors review various methods of online tutoring, including email and chat features, and conclude that “tutors must readjust their conceptions of how to develop interpersonal relationships when tutoring online” (286-287). Interviews with online writing tutors revealed some of the anxiety that online writing tutors face when interacting with online students, including worries about appropriating student writing and building relationships with students. However, the interviews also highlighted what tutors see as beneficial in online tutoring--the ability to alleviate concerns about prejudice and focus on the student writing and the student’s approach to the text. The authors conclude that, as students become more familiar with online tutoring, their anxieties will lessen. This article demonstrates some of the basic concerns of transitioning tutors from face-to-face to online tutoring. 

Keywords: tutoring: English, online writing center, email, interviews
OWI Principles: 10, 13, 14, 15

Chandler, Sally W., Joshua Burnett, and Jacklyn Lopez. “On the Bright Side of the Screen: Material-World Interactions Surrounding the Socialization of Outsiders to Digital Spaces.” Computers and Composition, vol. 24, no. 3, 2007, pp. 346-64. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2007.05.007.

Sally Chandler, Joshua Burnett, and Jacklyn Lopez contribute to research that examines how “outsiders” resist Internet discourses shaped by a western perspective. Their ethnographic case study explores how those outside of discourse communities enter those communities. First, they provide a history of research on how individuals acclimated to new communities. They then investigate “how mindset differences affect teaching and learning when students and teachers are from different digital generations” (350).  The study extends strategies used by gamers to initiate an “outsider” named Sally, a digital immigrant, into the world of gaming. The authors provide concrete examples of the discourse that surrounded Sally’s acclimation to the gaming culture, suggesting that these strategies can be used by instructors to help students who are “cultural outsiders” engage in classrooms and writing centers. In particular, the authors recommend that online writing instructors and online peer tutors, “help students to seek out, create, and enhance effective support” by “emphasizing the importance of self-directed, peer-supported learning, validating learners’ needs to connect to learning practices they bring to the new community, acknowledging the difficulty and importance of making shifts in mindsets, and alerting students to the discomfort and frustration they may encounter” (362-363). This article provides a set of strategies for bridging the gaps between the language and learning strategies that novice writers use in online worlds and the language and learning strategies that will help them be successful in the online writing classroom. 

Keywords: tutoring: English, gamification, online writing centers, ethnography
OWI Principles: 1, 11, 13, 14, 15

Cleary, Yvonne, Rich Rice, Pavel Zemlianski, Kirk St. Amant, and Jessie C. Borgman. “Perspectives on Teaching Online in Global Contexts: Ideas, Insights, and Projections.” Research in Online Literacy Education, vol. 2, no. 1, 2019.


Cleary, Rice, Zemliansky, and St. Amant – all educators from research institutions around the world – discuss increasing global access to online education on this panel moderated by Borgman. The four presenters note that both student interest and the market itself are growing, so higher education institutions and instructors alike should be aware that teaching online comes with certain challenges. Borgman requests that presenters consider questions in five broad areas – the potential, challenges, developments, strategies, and future projections of online education – and the article recounts presenters’ answers with the aim of providing a foundation for future educators to build from. When asked to discuss the potential of global online education, panelists cite multicultural exposure (Cleary), students’ interaction with one another (Zemliansky), increased communication competency (Rice), and direct practice of writing (St. Amant). Regarding the challenges of global online education, panelists discuss logistical issues and differing expectations for teaching approaches (Zemliansky), asynchronous collaboration and differing cultural expectations (Rice), the necessity of negotiating university infrastructures (St. Amant), and the need for adequate institutional support (Cleary). Similarly, panelists suggest that the development of global online education would include acknowledging that expertise and needs differ by country (Rice), that student access to materials changes depending on different governments’ policies (St. Amant), that higher education is competing with other virtual learning platforms (Cleary), and that the gig economy and growing access to mobile devices and internet are changing how students work and learn (Zemliansky). Regarding strategies for global online education, panelists recommend prioritizing accessibility and support for students (St. Amant), recognizing the need for institutional resources and training (Cleary), and addressing differing cultural perspectives on what constitutes learning (Zemliansky and Rice). The panel ends with Borgman asking participants to offer future projections for global online education, to which St. Amant claims that education is at a high point but that we must remain aware of new challenges in order to best serve students.  


Keywords: global, accessibility, culturally responsive pedagogy, mobile

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 13, 14


Cooper, George, Kara Bui, and Linda Riker. “Protocols and Process in Online Tutoring.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003, pp. 255-66. 

Cooper, Bui, and Riker question whether moving tutoring from face-to-face to online platforms hinders the foundations of writing center practice, namely the relationship between the tutor and the student. They conclude that, “Though principles of face-to-face tutoring [student control, interpersonal communication, and dialogue about writing] do not transfer completely to online tutoring, we can still retain a sense of collaboration and humanity in the online forum” (310). In particular, they recommend 1) setting an appropriate tone in the introductory remarks to a student, 2) establishing a dialogic relationship with the student through questions, 3) limiting remarks on grammar and punctuation, and 4) providing a summative comment in order to close the session. While these methods will not completely mitigate frustration with online tutoring nor replicate fully the face-to-face dynamics of on-campus tutoring, gathering student feedback about online tutoring sessions will help tutors to adjust their methods to reach online students. This chapter establishes some basic guidelines of good practice in online tutoring for those individuals struggling to move from face-to-face to online modalities. 

Keywords: tutoring: English, feedback, tutor training, asynchronous interaction
OWI Principles: 10, 13, 14

Crump, Eric. “At Home in the MUD: Writing Centers Learn to Wallow.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003, pp. 242-55. 

Crump explores the opportunities offered to writing centers through online learning communities, which he calls multi-user dimensions (MUD). The article begins with an explanation of the operation of these online spaces. He continues by analyzing two of his own online communications with students in three “glances.” The first glance sees MUDs as a divergence from the oral boundaries of the writing. The second glance sees MUDs as a translation of writing center practices to an online arena, with little to no change. The third glance challenges the hierarchical model of the writing center. He posits that MUDs offer the chance to break down the barrier between student and consultant and create a community in which equal communication and sharing of ideas is encouraged.

Keywords: MUD, writing centers, community
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 13, 14

Davila, Bethany, Tiffany Bourelle, Andrew Bourelle, and Anna V. Knutson. “Linguistic Diversity in Online Writing Classes.” WPA: Writing Program Administration, vol. 41, no. 1, 2017, pp. 60–81.


Davila et al. call for more research-based scholarship on enacting best practices for language diversity in online writing instruction. After a brief introduction to the NCTE’s 1974 “Students’ Right to Their Own Language” (SRTOL), the authors discuss how this statement has engendered controversy about how to enact its recommendations for serving multilingual student writers; they also name several successive statements that voice similar concerns. The authors then describe how the University of New Mexico, as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), has piloted a “language-focused online curriculum” (61) to help increase students’ awareness of two under-recognized student learning outcomes (SLOs): one regarding language diversity and one regarding discourse communities. Following a literature review that advocates a translingual approach to first-year writing, Davila et al. describe UNM’s eComp pilot program, discuss the language-focused second version of the program, relate their findings, and consider the implications for other writing programs seeking to support linguistic diversity in online classes. Their recommendations include more language-focused readings, more discussion of linguistic diversity during the course, additional training for instructors, and new assignments that ask students to analyze different dialects and registers alongside standard English (SE).


Keywords: best practices, research, diversity, multilingual, ESL/ELL/L2, learning outcomes

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 14, 15


Denton, Kathryn. “Beyond the Lore: A Case for Asynchronous Online Tutoring Research.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 38, no. 2, 2017, pp. 176–203.


Denton advocates for evidence-based research to replace writing center scholarship’s reliance on lore when it comes to asynchronous online tutoring. In this article, she reports on the results of a mixed methods study that tested three lore-based criticisms of asynchronous tutoring: (1) that tutors are forced to do most of the work, making non-directive tutoring difficult, (2) that asynchronous tutors focus on the text more so than on the writer, and (3) that asynchronous tutoring is not beneficial to students. Over a six-month period, Denton collected post-session reflections from tutors and follow-up surveys from students, which she analyzed alongside the tutoring “artifacts” (the student’s initial submission message, the paper with the tutor’s comments, and the tutor’s comments in their response to the student). Her findings indicate that the lore-based critiques of asynchronous online tutoring were not reflected in the data: (1) the tutor’s labor was intensive, but not more so than a face-to-face session, (2) the tutors focused on the student as a writer not just a text, and worked to give personalized responses, and (3) the students indicated that the tutoring interactions were beneficial. This article ultimately positions the study of asynchronous online tutoring as an example of why evidence-based research is important for writing center scholarship.


Keywords: writing center, lore, surveys, asynchronous, online tutoring, mixed methods

OWI Principles: 14, 15

Ehmann Powers, Christa. “A Study of Online Writing Instructor Perceptions.” The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors, edited by Beth Hewett, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015, pp. 174-82. 

This study examines some of the experiences of online writing tutors at Smarthinking, Inc. in 2009 in an attempt to understand their attitudes about OWI and the roles they take as online instructors (also called e-structors at that time). Tutors primarily conducted asynchronous interactions where they commented on Web-delivered texts using a framework that called first for global comments with the addition of a few embedded local comments. Some tutors also provided synchronous conferences via a whiteboard and co-located chat box. Although unsolicited in the survey, many tutors remarked that they had pedagogical challenges when teaching using text (i.e., not voice) and struggled with the lack of instant feedback from students regarding whether the tutorial had been helpful. Tutors also spoke to what they saw as distinct features of OWI, including the ability for online writing instructors to self-reflect and assess their own work and the need for students to engage with different levels of cognitive processing. In terms of attitudes toward OWI, the online tutors expressed some concerns regarding whether OWI was pedagogically valid and potential political issues about the uses of OWI in educational institutions. Respondents claimed that OWI could have significant learning benefits for students and their writing processes while framing these benefits in terms of affect and the practical aspects of working online. Ehmann Powers ends with a series of implications for this research and the need for ongoing study of these issues.

Keywords: tutors: English, online writing center, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, faculty perceptions, research
OWI Principles 13, 14, 15

Hallman Martini, Rebecca. Listening to Stories about Writing (Centers): Sites of Innovation in (Online) Writing Instruction. Dissertation: University of Houston, 2016.


Hallman Martini’s dissertation uses a critical ethnographic approach to study a hybrid/online studio partnership with the Department of English and a face-to-face, small group partnership with the Electrical Power Engineering Technology department. Using observations, interviews, focus groups, and informal conversations, Hallman Martini identifies the University of Houston Writing Center (UHWC) as a “site for innovative writing instruction while simultaneously critiquing business-model approaches to the teaching of writing” (iv). She uses her data to counter the writing center grand narrative of writing center work as “tutoring students” through case studies of two collaborative partnerships. She concludes that local stories can provide the peripheral visions of writing center work called for by Grutsch McKinney and that the partnership approach to writing instruction has advantages over the tutorial model. She cautions against transferring traditional face-to-face pedagogies to online spaces by encouraging online and hybrid instructors to disrupt those practices and innovate writing center practice in online and hybrid classes. 


Keywords: writing center, ethnography, WID, hybrid, tutoring: English

OWI Principles: 4, 14, 15


Hallman Martini, Rebecca and Beth L. Hewett. “Teaching Tutors Not to Tutor Themselves: Personality in Online Writing Sessions.” Research in Online Literacy Education, 2018, vol. 1, no. 1.


Hallman Martini and Hewett study the importance of understanding the personality-types of online writing tutors as a means of improving the quality and experience of the online writing conference. Hallman Martini and Hewett surveyed WCenter and WPA listserv members via a Google Form asking background and demographic questions and also asked the same folks to take and self-report the results of the JTT personality type survey. They found that many online writing instructors and tutors share common personality types. This further emphasizes the need that all tutors be intentionally trained to work with other personality types.  They claim professional development for all tutors should include taking a Jungian-based personality test. Understanding the diversity of personality types and traits and reflecting on the communication preferences and styles of those types can enhance the online writing conference.  


Keywords: online tutoring, online writing center, literacy, personality, identity, professional development

OWI: 1, 3, 4, 7, 13, 14, 15


Harris, Muriel. “From the (Writing) Center to the Edge: Moving Writers along the Internet.” The Clearing House, vol. 69, no. 1, 1995, pp. 21-23. 

Harris analyzes what were, in 1995, the three most common methods of electronic writing center work: (1) email, (2) Multi-user domain Object Oriented (MOO) environments, and (3) the Internet. Email allows students to more easily send writing to tutors, MOOs enable quick conversations, and the Internet provided some mix of each. This is one of the earliest theoretical explorations of OWI in the writing center setting.

Keywords: online writing center, MOO, email, tutoring: English, community, computer-mediated communication
OWI Principles:  13, 14

Harris, Muriel. “Using Computers to Expand the Role of Writing Centers.” Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum, edited by Donna Reiss et al., National Council of Teachers of English, 1998, pp. 3-16. 

An early discussion Online Writing Labs (OWLs), this chapter discusses the value of developing a central online site (hosting a variety of Internet communication platforms) for achieving the mission of university writing centers. Starting with how a tutoring session might go with and without access to an OWL, Harris recounts many other features and functions of various OWLs, especially the Purdue OWL. In particular, she examines how OWLs can serve as hubs for distance collaboration, as repositories for student and instructor resources, and as highly visible channels for outreach to developing writers across the globe and across the educational spectrum. Harris notes, however, that there are many institutional challenges to establishing a successful OWL, not the least of which includes acquiring funding for trained personnel who can develop and maintain the site’s writing resources within ever-changing electronic environments.

Keywords: online writing labs, writing centers, online resources, collaboration, WAC, tutoring: English
OWI Principles: 11, 13, 14

Healy, Dave. “From Place to Space: Perceptual and Administrative Issues in the Online Writing Center.” Computers and Composition, vol. 12, no. 2, 1995, pp. 183-93. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/8755-4615(95)90006-3.

Healy argues that OWLs raise the issue of what the “space” of a writing center should be and whether the OWL is part of a decentring process that started as writing centers moved into dorms and other campus spaces. He provides a history of the debate regarding the “space” of the writing center, indicating that  “virtual writing center may be perceived differently by clients than the traditional, place-bound center” (185). He outlines the ways that decentralized, partially-online writing centers might affect the “scheduling, supervision, and ethos” of the writing center director and writing tutors. The article outlines a benefit of OWL work, the possibility of having a transcript of the tutoring sessions, a record of the “talk” of the conference (188). However, the “panopticon” effect that bringing technologies to the writing center conference would lead to is seen as both a positive and a negative. The article ends with a call from Healy to “preserve their semi-autonomous space” (191) of the writing center conference and to continue to focus on the human experience in any writing center modality.

Keywords: online writing labs, writing centers, tutoring: English
OWI Principles: 13, 14

Hewett, Beth, and Rebecca Hallman Martini. “Educating Online Writing Instructors Using the Jungian Personality Types.” Computers and Composition, vol. 47, 2018, pp. 34–58.


Hewett and Hallman Martini investigated whether Jungian personality types can identify training and professional development needs and wants for online writing instructors. They used a mixed-methods study including a nationwide survey of online writing teachers and tutors and writing program and center administrators. The survey used Likert Scale and open-ended questions to gauge the participants’ teaching in the context of Jungian typology as well as their perceptions of professional development offered versus needed. The study also asked survey participants to complete a free, online Jungian Typology Test (JTT) based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and self-report the results. The study found a higher prevalence of introverted types among online writing instructors than in the wider population, which Hewett and Hallman Martini concluded was likely due to the heavy literacy load associated with OWI, and that introversion versus extroversion may account for whether the instructor generally enjoys teaching in the online environment. Nevertheless, the authors concluded that both introverted and extroverted online writing instructors would benefit from training in how and when to use synchronous meetings and other media to develop presence, establish relationships and help students at their points of need.


Keywords: personality, identity, professional development, writing centers, writing program administrators tutors

OWI Principles: 1, 7, 12, 14, 15


Hewett, Beth L. “Theoretical Underpinnings of Online Writing Labs (OWLs).” The Owl Construction and Maintenance Guide, edited by James A. Inman and Clinton Gardner, International Writing Center Association Press, 2002, CD-ROM,

Hewett analyzes online writing labs (OWLs) both theoretically and practically, considering them not only natural outgrowths of the traditional onsite writing center but also sites of often misunderstood or unconsidered theoretical constructs, some of which do not fit the online model. Theoretically, she finds that OWLs tend to align with current-traditional, neoclassical, neo-Platonic (expressivist), and social constructivist positions. Practically, she finds that OWLs connect to the same theories: static learning materials can be connected to current-traditional thinking, for example, but this connection does not imply a negative utility for student learning even though contemporary scholars typically reject current-traditional thinking. Hewett finds theoretical complexity in both asynchronous and synchronous online tutorials and their resonance with the previous theories; she does not judge one as better than the other but sees each as a way of teaching students what they need to learn. She also considers OWLs through their utility as sites that support student and teacher publication, professional development, community outreach and support, writing across the curriculum (WAC), and inclusive learning support. Finally, Hewett provides offers her a vision of the OWL's as having a necessary place within a writing program in the same way that onsite, traditional writing centers have such a place, as critical to the writing program as a whole.

Keywords: current-traditional rhetoric, expressivism, neoclassical, online writing labs, social constructionism, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, faculty development, writing centers
OWI Principles 3, 4, 13, 14

Hewett, Beth L. “Synchronous Online Conference-Based Instruction: A Study of Whiteboard Interactions and Student Writing.” Computers and Composition, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 4-31. Science Direct, doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2005.12.004.

Hewett reports on describes a small-scale, empirical study of synchronous conference-based OWI using an electronic whiteboard, where the tutorials were conducted by Smarthinking, Inc. tutors using their electronic whiteboard. She analyzed the talk of students and tutors involved in each tutorial using a previously tested linguistic analysis tool. Participant talk indicates that the interactions were focused on developing writing ideas and content and oriented to the task at hand as opposed to being oriented toward social exchange. However, despite the educationally transactional nature of the interactions, many interactions consisted of detailed dialogue in primarily declarative language. Nearly half of the talk was oriented toward communicative needs such as achieving interpersonal connections, facilitating the interaction, and communicating about the whiteboard's workspace. Most of the traceable writing and revision changes were meaning-preserving from the students’ original ideas and of minimal insignificant to moderate rhetorical force in terms of argument development. Hewett ends with suggestions for tutor training, preparing students for whiteboard use, and further research. The study suggests potential best practices for online instructor training, a need for student preparation to use whiteboard platforms, and ideas for future research into synchronous, text-based conferences.

Keywords: revision, empirical research, tutoring: English, synchronous interaction, revision, quantitative research
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Generating New Theory for Online Writing Instruction.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, vol. 6, no. 2, 2001,

In an article containing what may be the first published use of the term OWI, Hewett includes “computer-mediated communication (CMC) for classroom and writing/peer group situations, computer-based literary study, as well as individualized writing instruction such as that found in online writing lab (OWL) tutorials” under this term. This webtext specifically considers online writing labs and online writing courses (also known as CMC at that time) as examples of online settings where practice-based research is necessary for finding best practices in OWI. She outlines how the theories that ground OWI and OWLs particularly stem from the current-traditional, expressivist, neoclassical, and social constructivist constructs. Further, she provides examples and explications of tutorials from both asynchronous and synchronous (whiteboard-based) environments as tutored through Smarthinking, Inc. Finally, Hewett provides examples of tutor-to-tutor discussion threads that both demonstrate the educational principles of association and reveal self-reflective discussions.

Keywords: online tutoring, research, empirical research, online writing labs, theory, expressivism, constructivist, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, tutoring: English, reflection, discussion: English
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “Fully Online and Hybrid Writing Instruction.” A Guide to Composition Pedagogies, edited by H. Brooke Hessler et al., 2nd ed., Oxford UP, 2013, pp. 194-211. 

In this article, Hewett provides a synopsis of OWI in both hybrid and fully online settings. Beginning with an historical view of literacy education, she considers early distance education and how OWI has caused specific concerns about quality, student learning, and empathetic interpersonal connection particularly. Hewett identifies six building blocks of OWI that, once defined for any institutional setting, can be moved about to form a unique OWI program or online writing course: (1) course setting, (2) pedagogical purpose, (3) digital modality, (4) medium, (5) student audience, and (6) technology availability. She purposefully addresses issues of technology last to demonstrate that despite its changeability, nearly any technology choices can be adapted to the online writing program or course purpose once the other five components are fully identified. She suggests some core resources that have been written with OWI’s earlier history in mind. Further, she considers issues of access, the need for more and better OWLs, and the development of financially compensated or otherwise rewarded training for teachers and tutors to be among the most critical concerns as OWI moves to the future.

Keywords: hybrid, literacy, distance education, pedagogy: English, modality, audience, accessibility, teaching with technology: English, online writing labs, tutoring: English
OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14

Hewett, Beth L. “Grounding Principles of OWI.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 33-92. 

Hewett provides the theoretical background that supports the OWI Principles. She explicates each OWI Principle and addresses it within the context of the first principle regarding access and inclusivity. Each OWI Principle is presented in its full text along with the rationale the OWI Committee had originally provided for each principle. Hewett then offers a discussion that provides the committee’s historical research and discussions regarding the principle; its theoretical rationale; its connections to replicable, aggregable, and data-supported (RAD) research; and its general importance to those who study, research, and teach with OWI.

Keywords: accessibility, asynchronous interaction, hybrid, research, synchronous interaction, CCCC OWI Committee
OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L. “How Do You Feel? — Attitudes about Tutoring Online.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, edited by Sue Mendelsohn and Eliana Schonberg, Feb. 2004,

This article addresses issues that prospective online tutors should consider when preparing to tutor in online settings. Before making a decision, Hewett suggests that tutors determine their attitudes and comfort levels with technology. Although tutors need not be technology experts, the higher their skill levels with simple things like word processing tools, the better they can coach students in ways to change their writing. Hewett also asks tutors to consider their confidence in their abilities to work through a technological problem and their willingness to be uncomfortable while they learn. She also addresses the tutor’s attitudes about the relative values of working with technology for educational purposes. Specifically, Hewett asks prospective online tutors to consider whether they are skeptical about how well students can learn when tutored online, whether they think online tutoring is inferior to face-to-face tutoring, and whether they are open to new possibilities for what students can learn in online settings as opposed to traditional writing centers.

Keywords: technology, online tutoring, identity, tutoring: English
OWI Principles: 2, 13, 14

Hewett, Beth L., and Kevin Eric DePew, editors. Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015. 

This book addresses the questions that OWI instructors and writing program, writing center, and other administrators should consider when developing viable OWI programs that have potentially effective practices. Each chapter corresponds to concerns raised in the 2013 A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices published to the NCTE website by the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in OWI. The five parts of this book address relevant issues for a principle-centered OWI: (1) An OWI Primer, (2) OWI Pedagogy and Administrative Decisions, (3) Practicing Inclusivity in OWI, (4) Faculty and Student Preparation for OWI, and (5) New Directions in OWI. Hewett and DePew emphasize a future academy where most writing courses will be taught or otherwise presented in some type of online setting, which makes it a core text for the next generation of composition theory and praxis and valuable for those who teach and/or tutor students writing in online settings.

Keywords: accessibility, inclusivity, praxis, research, theory, writing program administration, online writing programs, student preparation, faculty development, tutoring: English, online tutoring, writing centers, CCCC OWI Committee
OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Kevin Eric DePew. “Introduction: A Research History of the CCCC OWI Committee.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 5-30. 

Hewett and DePew outline the history of the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in Online Writing Instruction (OWI) and its research. This historical background enables readers to understand the empirical quantitative and qualitative research that grounds the 2013 A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices published to the NCTE website by the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in OWI. They begin by defining the work of the OWI Committee per its charges from the CCCC Executive Committee upon its 2007 constitution and 2010 reconstitution, and it outlines the vocabulary that the committee has used in its discussions of OWI. They continue by explaining the committee’s general research methods that included 1) determining core research questions, 2) developing an annotated bibliography of the extant literature up until 2008, 3) conducting site visits and personal interviews, 4) developing and launching two national surveys, 5) analyzing and reporting on those surveys through a report of the contemporary state of OWI in both fully online and hybrid settings, 6) developing an expert/stakeholder’s group that could advise the committee, and 7) writing the OWI Principles. They describe the importance of understanding all of its work in the context of a new understanding of access and inclusivity. Finally, they end by outlining the rest of the book by sections and chapters. This unique book has the potential to serve OWI administrators, teachers, and tutors as they assist and teach students through online media.

Keywords: CCCC OWI Committee, faculty development, research, literature review, interviews, surveys, accessibility, inclusivity, writing program administration, online writing programs
OWI Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Christa Ehmann. Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction: Principles and Processes, National Council of Teachers of English, 2004.

Using common educational principles that evolved in traditional onsite settings, Hewett and Ehmann outline what they call their “principle-centered” approach to developing best practices for the training and on-going professional development —both teachers and tutors. They outline five common educational principles—(1) investigation, (2) immersion, (3) individualization, (4) association, and (5) reflection—that they use to undergird their training program and practices at Smarthinking, Inc. Even though these practices are used in one for-profit, online learning assistance center, they are sufficiently broad as to be useful in developing professional development for online teachers and tutors at a wide variety of online educational institutions, regardless of their traditional or corporate structures. The book outlines the five principles, and Hewett and Ehmann use these principles to demonstrate experiences, difficulties, and successes in online writing instruction.  These principles, as well as a discussion about contemporary theories and philosophies relevant to OWI and what they call the “training spiral,” reveal a one-to group and one-to-one process of teacher/tutor training that can be used both asynchronously and synchronously. Hewett and Ehmann believe that such grounding makes their training approach educationally and practically sound regardless of the technology in use. The book is replete with examples, illustrations, and sample training materials.

Keywords: faculty development, online tutoring, mentoring, tutoring: English, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction
OWI Principles: 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Christa Ehmann Powers. “How Do You Ground Your Training: Sharing the Principles and Processes of Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, vol. 10, no. 1, 2005,

In this webtext, Hewett and Ehmann Powers contend argue that, like students, educators need acculturative and supportive training in online writing instruction (OWI). In particular, they need time and space for supportive professional development and mentoring. The authors review the available literature surrounding online training and professional development, and they discuss the five training principles first articulated in Preparing Educators for Online Writing Instruction: Principles and Processes--(1) investigation, (2) immersion, (3) individualization, (4) association, and (5) reflection--breaking them down to constituent parts and offering example scenarios. Their dual focus is on practical strategies of implementing the five principles and offering untapped areas of research into the strategies. They end the webtext with a call for program administrators and online instructors to dialogue more fully about their experiences and join together “to articulate, define, and theorize online training processes for both writing instructors and other educators.”

Keywords: writing program administration, faculty development, research
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15

Hewett, Beth L., and Robert Lynn. “Training ESOL Instructors and Tutors for Online Conferencing.” The Writing Instructor, Sept. 2007,

Using published literature to make the case that multilingual students need more support and intervention than may be common in contemporary tutoring practices, Hewett and Lynn argue that instructors who conduct one-to-one, online conferencing with multilingual students (ESOL) can experience particular challenges that require them to approach the students differently from what they would do with native English speakers. Particularly because online interactions have qualities of both talk and text, multilingual students may need different strategies that online instructors (both teachers and tutors) should receive in training. They suggest that training should be considered in terms of modality (asynchronicity and synchronicity) rather than one of selecting and using particular technologies. Hewett and Lynn offer example ESOL case studies to exemplify ten training points.  They additionally provide two ESOL examples in the appendixes. The ten strategies are 1) know how to give face, 2) sell yourself as an instructor, 3) make an art of clockwatching, 4) find out what the student wants, 5) learn how to talk to a particular student, 6) know what you’re talking about, 7) contexualize the conference, 8) use clear language, 9) proofread, and 10) teach by doing.

Keywords: ELL, ESL, multilingual writers, L2, asynchronous interaction, synchronous interaction, tutor training, tutoring: english, instructor interaction, faculty development, teaching with technology: English
OWI Principles: 1, 2, 7, 14

Inman, James and Donna Sewell, editors. Taking Flight with OWLs: Examining Electronic Writing Center Work. Routledge, 2000. 

Inman and Sewell collect a variety of essays that take various positions on the development of the Online Writing Lab, both theoretically and practically. These essays explore the development of an OWL, discussing the theoretical groundings and institutional needs required for a successful OWL. The research then explores the ways OWLs maintain and diverge from analog writing center pedagogy. Some researchers argue that OWLs diverge from writing center pedagogy, failing to create dialogic models for their students, and as such, encourage readers to reexamine OWL practices to greater reflect accepted pedagogy and theory. Other researchers, however, see OWLs as an opportunity to expand and adapt pedagogy to the need for students to be technologically proficient and skilled writers in a digital age. Both groups, however, believe that as technology changes, the role of the writing center within the university should continuously evolve, establishing itself as part of the learning community, especially in the technological age.

Keywords: online writing labs, writing center, theory, online tutoring, praxis, community
OWI Principles 1, 3, 13, 14, 15

Inman, James A., and Clinton Gardner, editors. OWL Construction and Maintenance Guide. International Writing Centers Association P, 2002, CD-ROM,

This guide discusses the many factors that must be addressed in OWL construction and maintenance. The guide explores the “Contemporary OWL” by providing histories of predominant OWLs as well as examining a variety of other OWLs, including those at smaller schools. This examination looks at OWLs’ effectiveness through their web interfaces and self-reported data. In the construction and maintenance sections, articles provide the reader with a guide to OWL development. The articles provide ideologies and approaches to consider when beginning or continuing the work of an OWL. These sections discuss data collection, institutional support, and training, among other topics. The guide offers many positions, so readers develop their own theoretical framework for the OWL based on scholarly engagements. Each section also includes a summative checklist that readers can use to plan and evaluate their OWLs. The guide concludes with an annotated bibliography for additional readings helpful for OWL construction and maintenance.

Keywords: online writing lab, online writing center, research, administration, assessment
OWI Principles 1, 13, 14

Jacobs, Geert, Liesbeth Opdenacker, and Luuk Van Waes. “A Multilanguage Online Writing Center for Professional Communication: Development and Testing.” Business Communication Quarterly, vol. 68, no. 1, 2005, pp. 8–22.

Jacobs, Opdenacker, and Van Waes describe the Calliope Online Writing Center at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. The authors detail how Calliope is constructed around social-constructivist, problem-based learning that “combines learner-guided learning and system-guided learning” (9). Calliope allows users to follow a less-linear process in dealing with the inherently recursive nature of writing. In a preliminary assessment of student self-efficacy after using Calliope, Jacobs et al. found that Calliope was effective on twenty-six separate measures of self-efficacy on post tests. They also found that peer feedback in Calliope showed a “relation between the level of confidence and the quality of the feedback” (17) and that learners made more comments and felt more knowledgeable in those comments “(18). The authors indicate that they are encouraged by these preliminary assessments and will continue development of the project.

Keywords: feedback, teaching with technology: English, online writing center, constructivism, research
OWI Principles: 1, 13, 14, 15

Jenkins, Patricia. “Arguing for Proactivity: Talking Points for Owning Accessibility in Online Writing Instruction.” Handbook of Research on Writing and Composing in the Age of MOOCs, edited by Elizabeth Monsky and Kristina Blair, IGI Global, 2017, pp. 106–22.


Jenkins argues that online courses should be completely accessible to all learners at the launch of the course, and instructors should play an active role in ensuring this happens. Jenkins insists that those who teach OWI need to be proactive in creating a culture of inclusivity and accessibility.  She advocates that either a Writing Program Administrator or a designated Accessibility Coordinator should work to bridge gaps in instructor knowledge and work with administrators to change the culture and expectations of online courses. She argues a clear obligation for accessible education courses for all. 


Keywords: accessibility, writing program administration
OWI Principles: 1, 7, 13, 14, 15

Johanek, Cindy, and Rebecca Rickly. “Online Tutor Training: Synchronous Conferencing in a Professional Community.” Computers and Composition, vol. 12, no. 2, 1995, pp. 237-46.

Johanek and Rickly argue that, while scholars have paid significant attention in the field of computers and composition as of the mid-90s, not much work had been done on the relationship between computers and writing centers, in particular, synchronous online conferencing in writing centers. In particular, the authors review the scholarship behind and their use of Daedalus Interchange (a part of the Daedalus Integrated Writing System) and the Ball State University Writing Center. The article first reviews the Daedalus Interchange, then describes how this product is used in this particular context. They then reviewed four transcripts from the writing center staff from Fall 1993 and Spring 1994. They point out several benefits of using synchronous online conferencing for peer tutor training,  including 1) a willingness for tutors to challenge each other's’ ideas, 2) tutors speak more frequently in the synchronous online conference, 3) and the ability to share experiences and archive those sessions for use with future tutors. Johanek and Rickly also conducted a survey of tutors using Daedalus and found the responses to be favorable. The article ends calling for more writing centers to consider synchronous tutor training, not only because of the previously-listed benefits but also to assist tutors who need to become comfortable using online tools in the classroom.

Keywords: writing centers, online writing centers, synchronous interaction, Daedalus, tutoring: English, online tutoring, tutor training
OWI Principles: 13, 14

Johnson, J. Paul. “Writing Spaces: Technoprovocateurs and OWLs in the Late Age of Print.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,

This short hypertext document provides an overview of the primary OWLs that were available online at the turn of the 21st century. While the article is dated and not all of the hyperlinks go to active pages, the article provides an overview and basic theoretical structure for the movement of OWLs from a focus on print-text-only medium or an online space that points to a physical campus location to what Johnson (through Eric Crump) calls “technoprovocateurs,” or “a writing space ‘where quietly subversive activity can emerge.’” Johnson notes that more of the OWLs he outlines fall into the former rather than the latter categories. However, he does nod to the fact that these OWLs embody Bolter’s concept of the “late age of print” in that they are remediations of more traditional writing center spaces that are solely focused on print. This hypertext provides a description of several early OWLs and, while not all of them exist in the form they were at the time of publication, provides insight to scholars researching the history of OWLs in terms of concerns that scholars and researchers voiced as the OWL moved from the 20th to the 21st century. 

Keywords: online writing labs, research, hypertext
OWI Principles: 13, 14, 15


Jones, Rodney H., Angel Garralda, Davis C.S. Li, and Graham Lock. “Interactional Dynamics in On-Line and Face-to-Face Peer-Tutoring Sessions for Second Language Writers.” Journal of Second Language Writing, vol. 15, no. 1, 2006, pp. 1-23. 

Jones, Garralda, Li, and Lock examine two types of peer-tutoring and compare online tutoring interactions with face-to-face tutoring interactions. Using Halliday’s functional-semantic view of dialogue, the logs of online tutoring sessions were coded and compared with those from face-to-face interactions. The results showed that online tutoring fostered greater participation on the part of the student being tutored, while face-to-face interaction tended to result in hierarchical structures of communication controlled predominantly by the tutor.

Keywords: online tutoring, qualitative research, tutor training, online writing centers
OWI Principles: 1, 13, 14, 15

Kargozari, Hamid R., and Hamed Ghaemi. “Web-based Writing Instruction and Enhancing EFL Learners’ Writing Quality.” Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, vol. 12, no. 3, 2011, pp. 36-45. Education Research Complete,

This study questions the role of technology on students’ writing skills. Specifically, the authors ask whether technology incorporated in traditional face-to-face courses significantly improves the writing skills of EFL learners. The authors compared student test results from two classes that used the same textbook and assignments. However, the experimental class provided students with a supplemental website where students could interact and discuss concepts via asynchronous forums. The instructor also aided students in the technological component of the course, offering extra credit to students if they used the online course platform to communicate and create written assignments. Students in both classes took an essay test at the end of the course, and based on holistic scoring, the authors determined that the experimental class outperformed the traditional class. As such, the authors suggest using web-based instruction to improve the writing skills of EFL learners and assert that EFL trainers should be trained to use online instructional tools to effectively teach EFL students, providing sample training materials.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, ELL, multilingual writers, online tutors, asynchronous interaction, empirical research, quantitative research, teaching with technology: English
OWI Principles: 1, 7, 14, 15

Kavadlo, Jesse. “The Message is the Medium: Electronically Helping Writing Tutors Help Electronically.” Praxis, vol. 10, no. 2, 2013, 

Kavaldo addresses the general skepticism she sees in the field concerning online writing centers by presenting the way she trains her tutors to approach online tutoring. She identifies both dangers and advantages of online asynchronous tutoring over face-to-face tutoring. On the one hand tutors may have difficulty connecting with students when only the writing is present. On the other hand, the tutors can take time crafting their responses and thus focus their remarks on larger purposes rather than on any and all problems that may arise during an initial reading. She then presents one tutor training methods, beginning their training with a template for responding to student writing asynchronously that helps them avoid its dangers and capitalize on its advantages. From there, her tutors practice responding effectively to student writing, and Kavaldo tutors her tutors electronically, responding to their work using the same medium to enable greater reflection and thus improvement. To illustrate this, she presents and discusses one tutor’s work over a year, along with her own responses, which show continued growth and development. She concludes by noting she is a “cautious convert” to the idea of online writing centers.

Keywords: online writing center, tutor training, asynchronous interaction, reflection, online tutoring
OWI Principle: 14

Kimball, Sara. “Cybertext/Cyberspeech: Writing Centers and Online Magic.” Writing Center Journal, vol. 18, no. 1, 1997, pp. 30-48.

Kimball details how she used a MUD, in an online writing lab (OWL). Because of the nature of writing in a synchronous environment, she addresses how a conversation and what she calls the “magic” identity in online spaces can lead to online anonymity. The article argues that online communicating online can assist student writers and can give writing centers chances to engage with their constituencies in new ways. The article ends with a call for study of online mediums for online writing labs, including how identity is constructed in OWL environments and the promises of how these environments help students through anonymity.

Keywords: MUD, online writing lab, synchronous interaction, identity
OWI Principles: 13, 14

Langston, Camille. “Resistance and Control: The Complex Process of Creating an OWL.” Kairos, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996,

Langston’s hypertext gives a concrete example of the struggle for control of OWLs at a university in the late 1990s. While Langston assumed that putting resources into an OWL would be the biggest challenge in starting an OWL for commuter and non-traditional students at Texas Women’s University, she soon found that because the office of Academic Computing controlled the websites, she had to adjust how the question and answer discussion-list component of the OWL operated. Her example provides a glimpse into the institutional struggles one OWL faced in creating an early OWL. This hypertext is dated and contains several broken links (including the link to the original Texas Women’s OWL) but provides insight to scholars researching the history of OWLs in terms of concerns that scholars and researchers voiced as the OWL moved from the 20th to the 21st century. 

Keywords: online writing labs, hypertext, administration, non-traditional students
OWI Principles: 13, 14

Martinez, Diane, and Leslie Olsen. “Online Writing Labs.” Foundational Practices of Online Writing Instruction, edited by Beth L. Hewett and Kevin Eric DePew, WAC Clearinghouse, 2015, pp. 183-210. 

Martinez and Olsen offer a comprehensive overview of OWL services, offering advice on accessibility infrastructure, function and pedagogy of services, and the essentialness of tutor training. This article emphasizes the idea that OWI must be supported by corresponding OWL services, concluding that all services and resources must be accessible to all students to insure inclusivity and that all services should be provided by highly qualified and well-trained online tutors who understand the specifics of online tutoring services. Faculty training is another key component of success for OWL services and support. This article supports OWI by insisting that OWI be accompanied by online support services.

Keywords: online writing lab, accessibility, inclusive, tutor training, synchronous interaction, tutor training, online tutoring, online resources
OWI Principles:  1, 7, 13, 14

Moberg, Eric. “The College Writing Center: Best Practices, Best Technologies." ERIC, 7 Mar. 2010,

Moberg describes the key attributes that make writing centers successful, whether they are on-ground or online. The article highlights the importance of having a mission of lifelong learning; the necessity of well-trained tutors, organized services, and clearly defined leadership; and the benefits of technology. Moberg describes on-ground and online tutoring as fundamentally the same, the latter emerging to grant students greater access to services. Student-centered tutoring methods such as collaboration and modeling support adult, college-level learners. In the discussion about technology and in the section on Online Writing Labs that follows, Moberg explains how technology has improved the student learning experience with greater access to scholarly sources, making research easier and encouraging writing as a process. Tutors can also work with students at a distance using online tutoring rooms such as Adobe Connect. Institutions benefit by having fewer overhead expenses as tutors work from home. Even with these benefits, Moberg’s main point is clear. Technology is not more important than the quality of instruction.

Keywords: writing center, online tutoring, educational technology, best practices, technology, teaching with technology: English, student success, online resources, research writing
OWI Principles: 2, 13, 14

Neaderhiser, Stephen, and Joanna Wolfe. “Between Technological Endorsement and Resistance: The State of Online Writing Centers.” The Writing Center Journal, vol. 29, no. 1, 2009, pp. 49-77. 

Starting with identifying the various definitions of the term “online writing lab” (OWL) and discussing the types of online services often provided in these spaces, this article lays a foundation for past and current practices of OWLs. The authors identify each type of service, explain the type of technology needed for each service, and explain the benefits as well as potential problems of certain technological services. The authors then discuss the results of a 2006 survey conducted by The Writing Centers Research Project that included 1,286 respondents from the US and Canada. The results conclude that the creation of OWLs  is increasing across institutions. However, the infrastructure of the OWL is sometimes expensive and not often supported by institutional funding. For some centers, this financial challenge has led to outsourcing online services to companies such as Smarthinking. The findings also concluded that 90% of OWLs still rely most heavily on asynchronous or email based services despite the advancement of synchronous online communication applications and that research institutions were more likely to try new technologies for an online writing conference. 

Keywords: online writing lab, asynchronous interaction, writing center, technology, research, surveys, qualitative research
OWI Principles:  13, 14, 15

Olsen, Leslie.  “A Genre of its Own: Training Tutors for Asynchronous Online Conferencing.” 2002. Unpublished MS. Department of English, University of Washington.

The author shows online tutoring as its own distinct genre in need of its own practices in order to fully support asynchronous online tutoring as a beneficial educational endeavor. This study uses both qualitative and quantitative data to trace improvement in peer tutor responses to asynchronous paper reviews after instituting a two phase tutor training program.  As part of the training, peer tutors utilized a two tutor written response method modeled after a business SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis called a SNO (strengths, needs, opportunities) response. By implementing incremental changes over time with the two phases, tutors improved their response methods. After training, tutors began focusing on qualitative explanations to students and stopped editing student papers.  The online spaces became valuable as a result of the established feedback model. This early study of online writing center practices supports OWI studies idea of the importance of training to establish value and best practices for quality online student learning.

Keywords: writing center, online writing center, asynchronous interaction, online tutoring, tutoring training, genre
OWI Principle: 14

Palmquist, Michael, Dawn Rodrigues, Kate Kiefer, and Donald Zimmerman. “Network Support for Writing Across the Curriculum: Developing an Online Writing Center.” Computers and Composition, vol. 12, no. 3, 1995, pp. 335-53. 

Palmquist, Rodrigues, Kiefer, and Zimmerman review their previous research on writing across the curriculum (WAC) efforts and argue that “computer-network technologies make it possible to consider an alternative to the indirect, top-down pedagogy used in most WAC programs” (335). By expanding the audience considered in WAC programs to not only faculty but also students themselves, Palmquist et al. insist that an integrated model of teaching, including team-teaching and content and writing specialists is the soundest model for WAC programs. However, because many campuses lack funding for such a robust WAC model, the article recommends instead centering the initiative in an online writing center (OWC). They then outline the process of developing their “network-supported writing-center-based WAC program” (340). They developed modular media courseware that was accessible by students using the Asymetrix Multimedia Toolbox 3.0 (344). In addition, they developed reference programs and tutorials to assist writers working at multiple stages of the writing process. Palmquist et al. conclude with a list of benefits and challenges to their model, and they encourage others seeking to implement this approach to begin with campus-wide conversations about the importance of writing at each individual campus. 

Keywords: WAC, online writing center, research, literature review
OWI Principles: 13, 14, 15

Prince, Sarah, Rachel Willard, Ellen Zamarripa, and Matt Sharkey-Smith. "Peripheral (Re)Visions: Moving Online Writing Centers from Margin to Center." WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship, vol. 42, no. 5-6, 2018, p. 10-17. 


Prince et al. describes an online writing tutoring (OWT) listserv which was developed after the authors received feedback from an October 2015 SIG at the IWCA. They also partnered with the Global Society of Online Literacy Educators (GSOLE), which is an IWCA affiliate, to ensure that GSOLE fully supported OWT. They point to the CCCC’s Principles and Effective Practices statement to argue that online students need online support equaling their on-campus counterparts in order to navigate the complex world of online literacy study. They critique the dearth of publications on OWT-specific practices, and outline the current publications that can serve as a strong foundation for the development of concrete best practices for OWT. Prince et al. encourage online writing tutors to join GSOLE’s IWCA affiliate and to present at regional and national IWCA conferences to shift OWT from the margins to the center of writing center and writing studies discourse.


Keywords: online tutoring, CCCC Principles Statement, listserv, writing centers

OWI Principles: 13, 14


Racine, Sam, Denise Dilworth, and Lee-Ann M. Kastman Breuch. “Getting to Know Audiences in Cyberspace: A Usability Approach to Designing Skill Centers for Online Writing Centers.” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, vol. 33, no. 2, 2000, pp. 58–78.


Racine, Dilworth, and Katman-Breuch conducted usability research related to the University of Minnesota Online Writing Center’s (OWC) Skills Center in order to determine whether materials housed there address their audiences' needs and whether users find what they are looking for when they visit the site. Their pilot study included students and instructors from several sections of a required course for all students in the particular college where rhetoric resides. Implementing surveys and focus groups, the authors gathered general information for eight weeks, administered student surveys to three classes (about 60 students) during the last two weeks, and surveyed six instructors near the end of the course during the next semester. Then the authors conducted focus groups where they negotiated the perspectives of students and administrators with teachers to determine a preliminary web design for the Skills Center. Survey results indicated that students worry most about grammar and then organization and are challenged most by time constraints/management followed by understanding teacher expectations. Teachers indicated that they believe their students worry most about grammar and mechanics, grades, and meeting teacher expectations but that teachers themselves worry most about rhetorical analysis, genres, grammar, and organization. During focus groups, the authors maintain that they improved teachers' understanding of students' concerns by clarifying misconceptions, such as the disconnect between student needs and teacher expectations. Overall, the researchers concluded that the OWC Skills Center ought to include flexible databases and responsive interfaces.


Keywords: online writing center, usability, faculty expectations, surveys, focus groups, student perceptions

OWI Principles: 3, 4, 13, 14, 15


Reiss, Donna, and Art Young. “WAC Wired: Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum.” WAC for the New Millennium: Strategies for Continuing Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Programs, editors Susan H. McLeod, Eric Miraglia, Margot Soven, and Christopher Thaiss, WAC Clearinghouse, 2011, pp. 52-85, 

Reiss and Young start their article by coining the term ECAC—or “Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum”—as “another approach to literacy, communication, collaboration, and community outreach for educational programs and institutions” (53). They provide a history of departments across the curriculum that are actively using computers and digital spaces to supplement and enhance their writing and communication instruction. They do so with three goals in mind: “1) an increase in information technology to support the activities of WAC/CAC programs, 2) an increase in alliances between instructional technology programs and WAC/CAC programs, and 3) additional emphasis on communication-intensive uses of technology, or ECAC, among teachers and institutions that emphasize active learning and the development of communication competence in all their students” (56). The history that the authors detail spans four decades from keyboarding classes in the 1970s to the fully-online classes of the 2000s. In particular, they focus on classes, instructors, and programs that use digital technologies to improve the writing-to-learn focus of classes across the curriculum. Reiss and Young also briefly recount the background of online collaboration and teaching and learning centers that have a focus on ECAC. They end with a section that predicts increased use of e-portfolios, an increase in the use of computer technologies to teach and to learn, and warnings about the possibility of unequal access to high powered computers and networks and challenges to faculty seeking tenure and promotion and job security as they teach in digital spaces. This article provides an important historical perspective on work in WAC and WID disciplines and identifies challenges and opportunities that may or may not have come to pass as writing and communication classes in the disciplines move fully online.

Keywords: WAC, WID, collaboration, faculty development, writing-to-learn, portfolios, instructional technology
OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 6, 14

Rubin, Lois. “‘I Just Think Maybe You Could . . .’: Peer Critiquing through Online Conversations.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 29, no. 4, 2002, pp. 382-92. 

Rubin points to then-recent studies that demonstrate the benefits of peer review, including peer review using computers, to argue for why she prefers her students to do computer-mediated peer-review. She finds that peer-review done online lead to longer, more conversational, more robust commentary. The article outlines the various politeness techniques that her students used and the language that demonstrated that they believed themselves to be part of a group. Student surveys indicated that a majority of students in her three classes gave positive evaluations of computer-mediated critiquing. They indicated that the increased distance between themselves and the students they were critiquing helped them to focus on responding to the text and kept them from venturing into “off topic” conversations (389). Overall, Rubin concludes that the online critiques were “lively and personable” in contrast to the flat marginal comments of hand-written peer review.  

Keywords: peer review, computer-mediated communication, feedback, surveys, qualitative research
OWI Principles: 11, 13, 14, 15

Ruefman, Daniel, and Abigail G. Scheg, editors. Applied Pedagogies: Strategies for Online Writing Instruction. Utah State University Press, 2016.


In this book, Ruefman and Scheg examines the teaching strategies used by effective online writing instructors. As such, this text is broken into three sections: Course Conceptualization and Support, Fostering Student Engagement, and MOOCs, with chapters devoted to each topic. Focused on how the authors of each chapter leveraged their individual practices, the editors frame the collection as a worthwhile set of tools for any emerging or established online writing instructor. This resource provides examples of effective digital teaching contexts and genres of digital text.


Keywords: accessibility, engagement, MOOCs, support, course management system, student engagement, faculty development, professional development, multimedia

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14

Sidler, Michelle, et al. Computers in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 

Michelle Sidler, Richard Morris, and Elizabeth Overman Smith bring together research surrounding the use of computers in the composition classroom. The book is divided into six sections: 1) the earliest theoretical frameworks for the field of computers and writing; 2) literacy and access; 3) writers and identity; 4) writers and composing; 5) institutional programs; and 6) upcoming “New-Media” multimedia composition writing and pedagogies. The text, available free to educators through the publisher, is a potentially valuable collection that will assist with program development and teacher training regarding OWI.

Keywords: literacy, accessibility, multimedia
OWI Principles:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14

Simpson, Katherine. “Collaboration and Critical Thinking in Online English Courses.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 33, no. 4, 2006, pp. 421-29.

Simpson details her efforts with piloting an “online peer-tutoring program that included synchronous… and asynchronous discussion” (421). She encouraged the tutors to facilitate their own discussions, to coach students through the drafting process, and to act as guides for students in the learning process. She demonstrated success with the program in a number of ways, including student testimony, increased numbers of students completing the tutor training, and positive responses from students in regards to their confidence. She then reviews how she implemented an embedded tutor structure in her online first-year writing courses. She encouraged tutors and students to connect synchronously through a school resource called “Tapped In,” which students and tutors seemed willing to learn in order to connect with each other. Simpson provides examples of chat transcripts to demonstrate how students were able to work to develop critical thinking and research skills with the help of the embedded tutors. The article ends with Simpson encouraging other instructors to employ synchronous chat in their classes with the help of tutors when possible.

Keywords: online tutoring, discussion: English, writing process, tutor training, synchronous interaction, critical thinking: English, research writing, embedded tutors, two-year colleges
OWI Principles:  3, 11, 14

Simpson, Shelah. Student Perceptions of Online Writing Center Designs for Fully Online Programs. Dissertation: Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2017.


Simpson’s dissertation studies student perceptions of and experiences with both institutional and commercial writing tutoring services. This study used a multiple case-study design, including surveys of fully-online students (n=550) and two rounds of email interviews with 13 of the survey respondents using a framework focused on convenience, connectedness, and contribution to academic progress. Over half of the participants indicated they had not used either service (n=281) because they weren’t aware that they existed or didn’t have the need or time to seek assistance. Students who did use the online writing center or the commercial services indicated that academic progress was a priority over either convenience or connectedness, and they preferred asynchronous reviews of full drafts, even if those reviews meant increased wait times. Simpson also studied student preferences for asynchronous tutoring by academic goal and student perceptions of asynchronous methods for both services. The author details her student interviews and analyzes those using in-case and cross-case synthesis. She concludes that OWCs need to be aware of the time required to use asynchronous and synchronous services, writing center directors should prioritize asynchronous over synchronous tutoring and market OWCs intentionally, and that online tutors should provide encouraging, directive feedback during tutoring sessions. 


Keywords: writing center, qualitative research, quantitative research, surveys, interviews, case studies, online tutoring, synchronous interaction, asynchronous interaction, student perception, student satisfaction

OWI Principles: 1, 13, 14, 15


Spore, Melissa Ann. “OWLs in Flight: Online Writing Labs for Distance Learning.” Proceedings IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, 2001, pp. 137–38.


Spore identifies the, at the time, under-utilized and under-studied support system in distance education—the online writing lab, which has the potential to quickly and easily assist distance OWI students. Spore maintains that there is a legitimate need for online writing lab tutor-based support, and that the OWL can provide benefits beyond the face-to-face medium if educators can overcome the risks. Instructors interested in distance resources and support for students will appreciate this description of a potentially helpful, low-cost tool.


Keywords: online writing centers, tutoring

OWI Principles: 3, 10, 11, 13, 14


St. Amant, Kirk, and Rich Rice. “Online Writing in Global Contexts: Rethinking the Nature of Connections and Communication in the Age of International Online Media.” Computers and Composition, vol. 38, no. B, 2015, pp. v-x.

St.Amant and Rice note online media require writing instructors to re-think the notion of audience as a topic now inherently global in nature.  They also explain how current metaphors used to conceptualize and discuss this context often prevent instructors and students from understanding the complexities that can affect composing practices in international cyberspace.  St.Amant and Rice go on to argue the key to negotiating such factors involves identifying those areas – or friction points – that can affect how online compositions are accessed, read, considered, and used. Some of these factors are connected to aspects of technology, others to geopolitics, and still others to cultural differences in rhetorical preferences and expectations.  Identifying such friction points, for St.Amant and Rice, is a matter of approaching online writing in international contexts as a three-part process they refer to as the “3Cs.” The first of these Cs – contacting – focuses on how individuals use online media to access audiences in other cultures. The second C – conveying – looks at the rhetorical strategies writers use to present ideas in ways that grab and hold the attention of readers from other cultures.  The third C – connecting – casts the writing process as one that should foster international dialogue by teaching students to compose in ways that encourage international readers to respond in writing to engage in broader discussions of a topic. St.Amant and Rice conclude by noting the 3Cs approach can help instructors and students identify and address friction points in a way that can lead to more successful methods for teaching writing online in international contexts.

Keywords: course and program design: English, student engagement, student satisfaction, accessibility, interaction
OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 14

St. Amant, Kirk, and Filipp Sapienza. Culture, Communication, and Cyberspace: Rethinking Technical Communication for International Online Environments. Baywoood 2011.

This edited collection examines how aspects of culture and language affect online interactions at a time when the Internet was becoming increasingly international in scope as more nations and regions of the world were gaining online access.  Central to the entries in the collection is the issue of online education and the implications culture and language have for how conventional approaches to teaching writing in online education should (or need to) adapt to and evolve in relation  to this new global environment. Within this context, chapters examine aspects such as how culture affects perceptions and uses of information systems, how cultural aspects influence attitudes toward online education, and how linguistic factors shape approaches individuals can use to engage in online educational settings.  In so doing, the overall volume bridges gaps between the research done in computer-mediated communication and in intercultural communication through a focus on educational practices associated with writing and communication.

Keywords: technical and professional writing, instructional design, student satisfaction, accessibility, interaction
OWI Principles: 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 14

Straub, Carrie, and Eleazar Vasquez III. “Effects of Synchronous Online Writing Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities.” Journal of Special Education Technology, vol. 30, no. 4, 2015, pp. 213–22.


Straub and Vasquez address the difficulties and possible benefits of using synchronous online technology to teach K-12 students with disabilities. This study investigates how four students with learning disabilities, ranging from grades 6 to 10, were assisted by collaborative learning software (including Adobe Connect and Google Docs) to improve a variety of composition outcomes. This work informs educators concerned about the potential for students with learning disabilities to succeed in online settings and shares a qualitative example of one approach.


Keywords: synchronous, disability studies, K-12

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 10, 13, 14, 15


Sullivan, Patrick. “Using the Internet to Teach Composition.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 28, no. 1, 2000, pp. 21-31. 

Sullivan argues that using online discussion forums in computer-networked classrooms benefits the classroom in a number of ways, including “increasing student input, encouraging class discussion, and creating a collaborative learning environment” (21). The article outlines Sullivan’s process of designing his course and provides some sample questions and student replies to demonstrate the depth of discussion in those classes. The article argues that using discussion boards works because more students are encouraged to participate in discussion, students who are not naturally shy are not at a disadvantage, and the social dynamic of the class shifts as students are “free to eliminate or ignore many of the social/hierarchical cues that mark traditional exchanges” (25). Additional benefits include the writing-intensive nature of these discussions, the way the discussions prepare students for real-world online exchanges in the workplace, and how discussions encourage students to use their best writing. Sullivan ends by cautioning that the online discussions do not make teaching easier because they require skillful moderation and instructor presence. However, this additional work on the part of the instructor is worth the effort as student discussions are much richer. 

Keywords: computer-mediated classrooms, networked classrooms, discussion: English, student engagement, discussion boards, composition, instructor interaction, time management
OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 13, 14

Tai, Hung-Cheng, Mei-Yu Pan, and Bih-O Lee. “Applying Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) Model to Develop an Online English Writing Course for Nursing Students.” Nurse Education Today, vol. 35, no. 6, 2015, pp. 782-88. 

This article focuses on a study that implemented the Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) model in an online English writing course for nursing students. The study sought “1) to assess the effectiveness of the TPACK model based writing training program contributing to learners' learning outcomes; 2) to investigate the learners' perceptions and satisfactions about the TPACK model based writing training program; and 3) to explore the teacher's reflections about the TPACK model based writing training program” (783). The study was a single-group experimental study, utilizing the National College Entrance Examination Center (CEEC) writing grading criteria and a self-designed course satisfaction questionnaire. . . . collected at the end of the course” (783). The results demonstrated that the TPACK model was successful in raising students’ test scores, although they did not like the increased pressure of peer tutoring and other activities that occurred outside of the traditional classroom. In particular, they wanted to receive feedback directly from the instructor rather than from peers or a learning program.  Though several challenges became apparent during the course semester, Tai advises that the TPACK model should be seriously considered when developing a class for language learners.

Keywords:  WID, course design, learning outcomes, reflection, peer review, feedback, instructor interaction, qualitative research, surveys, empirical research
OWI Principles:  3, 4, 14, 15

Thiel, Teresa. Report on Online Tutoring Services. University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2010,

Theil analyzes and evaluates two online, commercial tutoring services, NetTutor and Smarthinking, for undergraduate-level courses and recommends that the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) adopt NetTutor to provide online tutoring services for online courses. In evaluating the two services, Theil measured the quality and efficacy of tutoring, the ease of access and integration with the university’s LMS (Blackboard), the breadth of subjects offered, satisfaction of current users, and value. Ultimately, NetTutor was deemed the best because its quality of tutoring was slightly higher than Smarthinking, possibly because its tutors work from a central location with resources and supervision. Of particular interest to OWI instructors are the reasons that Theil recommends commercial alternatives to in-house writing centers: cost effectiveness and quality. Based on a recent comparison of tutoring quality between the USML Writing Lab and Smarthinking, the English department is “reconsidering whether” offering in-house online tutoring “is a good idea” (19). Theil notes that providing quality in-house online tutoring services “would require a dedicated staff to find, train, and monitor the tutors,” thereby increasing costs (19). She believes that the USML Writing Lab should continue offering onsite services and be supplemented with NetTutor to meet the needs of different student populations.

Keywords: online tutoring, tutor training, accessibility, online writing centers, administration
OWI Principles: 1, 6, 13, 14

Thomas, Sharon, Danielle DeVoss, and Mark Hara. “Toward a Critical Theory of Technology and Writing.” Writing Center Journal, vol. 19, no. 1, 1998, pp. 73-86. 

Thomas, DeVoss, and Hara argue for bringing a critical theory of technology, one that acknowledges the cultural impact of technology, into writing center practices. They note the tension in conflicting claims about the nature of online consulting. Some claim that online tutoring is radically different from traditional tutoring. Others claim that online tutoring is not much different if used well. The authors see the first claim as an instrumental theoretical approach and the second claim as a substantive approach. They describe their work based from the writing center to help teachers and students use technology to continue classroom-based discussions, to conduct Internet-based research, and to publish writing on the Web. This early text on online tutoring demonstrates the early, polarizing issues related with online writing instruction and online tutoring.

Keywords: online tutoring, theory, online writing center
OWI Principles:  3, 11, 14

Thompson, Gene. “Moving Online: Changing the Focus of a Writing Center.” SiSAL Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, 2014, pp. 127-42. 

To address the limitations of a small departmental writing center in Japan, Thompson uses survey data to identify and accommodate student needs. Thompson explains that the dialogic, process-oriented tutor sessions common to North American writing centers frequently did not match the expectations of students who often came to the writing center with straightforward questions about assignment guidelines, grammar, or citations. Moreover, due to budgetary and space constraints, the writing center was only open on a walk-in basis for about six hours a week. The few students who came to the center usually did so all at once, forcing the center to turn many students away. To remedy this situation, two changes were made: the introduction of an online reservation system and the creation of an online resource lab for handouts and references. After one semester, students were surveyed to determine the efficacy of the changes. The results indicated that of the students who used the writing center, most accessed the online resources instead of coming in for a face-to-face session. Based on these findings, tutor sessions were suspended, and more materials were added to the online resource lab. A subsequent survey indicated that over 90% of the students surveyed found the online resources useful. Thompson proposes that tutor sessions be reincorporated in the third stage of this study, but only online, through the institution’s new LMS. Ultimately, Thompson argues that user-focused data is needed when determining how best to meet students’ needs. While this is a small, context-specific study, it provides a simple yet effective model for OWI instructors and administrators interested in evaluating and improving their own classes and programs.

Keywords: writing center, online writing lab, surveys, grammar & style, surveys, research, online resources, course management system, qualitative research, evaluation
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 13, 14, 15

Thompson, Riki, and Meredith J. Lee. “Talking with Students through Screencasting: Experimentations with Video Feedback to Improve Student Learning.” The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, no. 1,  2012,

In this article, Thompson and Lee explore the benefits of using screencasting software to deliver audio-visual feedback to students on written assignments. After briefly discussing how screencasting is used in the classroom for supplemental teaching, she explains the small study she and Lee conducted to survey students (n=32) regarding screencasting as a response medium. While the students were mostly positive about the screencast feedback, Thompson cautions that additional studies are necessary before drawing generalized conclusions on the effectiveness of screencasting with regard to improved learning and greater student engagement. However, the methods that Thompson and Lee outline for providing feedback are helpful for those considering providing screencast feedback or studying the efficacy of that feedback in their own classes.

Keywords: audio, feedback, video: English, assessment, research, qualitative research
OWI Principles:  3, 4, 11, 12, 14, 15

Thonus, Terese, and Beth L. Hewett. “Follow this PATH: Conceptual Metaphors in Writing Center Online Consultations.” Metaphor and the Social World, vol. 6, no. 1, 2016, pp. 52–78.   


Thonus and Hewett discuss the role of metaphors in teaching new concepts. In their study, they analyze graduate-student consultants’ use of conceptual metaphors in an online writing center. Half of a group of graduate consultants was trained in strategic metaphor use and then encouraged to 1) introduce metaphors into their consultations, 2) be consistent with their use of metaphors, 3) attend to metaphors used by writers, 4) reuse metaphors employed by writers. The researchers then compared the consultants’ instruction before and after the metaphor training, and compared the instruction of the metaphor-trained consultants and the untrained consultants. The consultants then evaluated 51 papers submitted to the online writing center. It was found that the trained instructors employed a greater number of coherent metaphors—such as discussing a text as an object, or describing progress through a text like travel—than they had before training. They also used more conceptual metaphors than did the untrained instructors. Thonus and Hewett note the importance of metacognitive language in online tutoring and point to a need to study student writers’ responses to consultants’ metaphors.


Keywords: writing center, metaphors, metacognition, tutor training

OWI Principles: 1, 3, 14


Van Horne, Sam. “Situation Definition and the Online Synchronous Writing Conference. Computers and Composition, vol. 29, 2012, pp. 93–103. 


Applying Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) to online synchronous tutoring, Van Horne suggests that the ZPD complements writing center theory, which focuses on writing processes through interaction. Van Horne argues that online synchronous tutoring may afford students (and tutors) the opportunity to emphasize discussion over proofreading, given the expectation that students will present a smaller section of an essay to discuss rather than hand over an entire paper to a tutor to read with few questions or conversation. Drawing on Wertsch’s concept of “situation definition,” the author emphasizes the importance of students being able to define an activity in which they are participating or an idea with which they are engaging to create more effective collaboration between students and tutors (i.e., intersubjectivity). Reinforcing this point, Van Horne provides two classroom examples in order to demonstrate the potential effectiveness of online synchronous tutoring.


Keywords: writing conference, synchronous, online tutoring, writing center, zone of proximal development

OWI Principles: 3, 11, 14

Van Waes, Luuk, Daphne van Weijen, and Mariëlle Leijten. “Learning to Write in an Online Writing Center: The Effect of Learning Styles on the Writing Process.” Computers and Education, vol. 73, 2014, pp. 60-71. 

Van Waes, van Weihen, and Leijten investigate the extent to which different learning styles affect students’ writing process and the quality of student writing. The authors designed a study in which twenty undergraduate students completed a writing task—writing a “bad news letter”—which they did by completing an online module comprised of three main sections: theory, practice exercises, and a “case section” for the writing task itself.  The module was designed in such a way that students could interact with the sections in any order they liked. The authors collected and analyzed data that recorded which module pages the students clicked, how long students stayed on a page, and how long students took to draft and revise the writing task. The authors found that reflective learners (divergers and assimilators, in Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory) viewed more pages of the module, switched tasks more frequently, and took longer to complete the task than the active learners (accommodators and convergers). The authors found no significant differences between active and reflective learners in the quality of the text produced. Perhaps the most useful finding is that all students spent time referencing the theory section as they were completing the writing task, indicating that writing is not a linear process, especially in digital environments. The authors recommend that OWI instructors build “flexible learning paths” into their courses to accommodate students with different learning styles.  

Keywords: learning styles, writing process, modules, adaptive learning, revision, reflection, research, quantitative research
OWI Principles: 3, 4, 14, 15

Vie, Stephanie. “Training Online Technical Communication Educators to Teach with Social Media: Best Practices and Professional Recommendations.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 3, 2017, pp. 287–99.


Vie investigates how the increasing use of social media, especially in the corporate world, means a corresponding increase in the demand for technical writing and communication training that will prepare students for this new workplace reality. Vie surveys 30 technical and professional communication (TPC) programs to discover what methods they are using, how to teach writing for social media successfully, and what might constitute learning opportunities or best practices for other TPC and writing programs seeking to either utilize or teach social media strategy. She finds that online programs have been seeing the best results, since their teachers both use and experience the tools they’re teaching on a daily basis. However, she also notes that TPC programs more generally face two specific concerns: “time and reliance on particular technologies” (347). Because it takes time to learn and keep up with new technologies, programs and instructors tend to depend on the “big three” platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – even as the corporate world has moved on to technologies like LinkedIn, Slack, wikis, and so on. To keep pace with the field, Vie recommends that TPC programs pay greater attention to peer work, increase teacher training, and expand their knowledge beyond the big three platforms. While Vie notes that writing studies is late to the conversation surrounding social media, highlighting divides between academia and practitioners, she also contends that online instructors are an “untapped resource” (353) in this area.


Keywords: social media, technical and professional communication, best practices, faculty development, professional development, Facebook, mobile

OWI Principles: 4, 14, 15


Witte, Allison. “‘Why Won’t Moodle…?’: Using Genre Studies to Understand Students’ Approaches to Interacting with User Interfaces.” Computers and Composition, vol. 49, 2018, pp. 48–60.


Witte uses genre theory to analyze a six-semester study of Moodle as a content management system (CMS), specifically for first-year writing students. She reports finding mismatches among her own, her students’, and her university’s expectations for Moodle as the campus-wide CMS, so she explored how students “use the genre clues present in interface design to figure out how to use the CMS” (50), often by comparing the CMS to other platforms they’re familiar with. Witte notes that it’s the interaction among “user, content, and purpose” (51) that makes a CMS either useful or confusing in writing instruction. Typically, a CMS serves as a digital classroom (in online classes) or a repository (in face-to-face or hybrid classes), but most CMS are not technically limited to these uses: instructors often just lack the training or incentive to go beyond them. Witte makes two claims based on her findings: 1) developers and instructors should account for previous student experience when setting up their CMS, and 2) instructors should present the CMS interface as a genre and encourage students to learn its use that way.


Keywords: genre theory, content management systems, Moodle, interface, course design: Writing
OWI Principles: 3, 7, 10, 13, 14


Writing in Digital Environments Research Center Collective. “Why Teach Digital Writing?” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, Pedagogy, vol. 10, no. 1, 2005,

The Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Center Collective, working under the premise that “networked computers create a new kind of writing space that changes the writing process and the basic rhetorical dynamic between writers and readers,” addresses the need to teach writing digitally in digital spaces. They assert that 1) traditional print-based rhetorical theory is not adequate for digital rhetoric, 2) teaching writing responsibly or effectively in traditional classrooms is not possible, and 3) we must shift our approaches to accommodate writing instruction in digitally mediated spaces. The uniqueness of this webtext resides in its multidimensional approach to responding to the question asked by the title, and in that it argues with the primary intention of assisting educators in responding to this question in their own institutional settings. This webtext provides answers for OWI practitioners and administrators who question why they would or should teach digital writing.

Keywords: digital literacy, computer-mediated communication, hypertext
OWI Principles:  3, 4, 6, 12, 14

Yang, Shih-Hsien, Hsiu-Ting Hung, and Hui-Chin Yeh. “How Student Teachers’ Online Commentaries Scaffold Student Writing.” IEEE 16th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, 2016, pp. 531–32.


Yang, Hung, and Yeh discuss how scaffolding and supplementary online writing instruction can be beneficial to English as a Second Language (ESL) students in first-year writing courses. The authors note that ESL students often face additional language acquisition challenges and may require more time and feedback during advanced writing courses – needs that may be difficult for instructors to meet in composition classes with many students. Peer review can meet some of these needs, but ESL students may distrust their peers’ skills or grasp of English as opposed to their instructors’. Yan, Hung, and Yeh present scaffolding and student teachers’ feedback as an alternative model. The authors designed and observed a virtual practicum in which master’s students worked with undergraduate students throughout a first-year writing course. The student teachers provided scaffolded instruction on grammar corrections, textual development, and paper viewpoint. The authors report that all participants found the exercise valuable, especially within the online context that let them work at their own paces.


Keywords: scaffolding, ESL/ELL/L2, communities of inquiry, computer-mediated instruction, community of inquiry, practicum, peer review, faculty development

OWI Principles: 2, 11, 13, 14

Yeh, Hui-Chin, and Yu-Fen Yang. “Prospective Teachers’ Insights Towards Scaffolding Students’ Writing Processes Through Teacher-Student Role Reversal in an Online System.” Education Tech Research and Development, vol. 59, no. 3, 2011, pp. 351-68. 

In this research article, Yeh and Yang discuss the methodology and findings of a study conducted to investigate the effects of student-teacher role reversal in a computer-supported environment. Yeh and Yang postulate that prospective teachers benefit from taking on the student roles of writer, editor, and commentator; however, few empirical studies have been conducted on the subject. By using an online interface, the study is able to systematically record each step in the role-reversal experience, which allows researchers and teachers to evaluate and reflect on the writing texts and action logs produced. In addition to the semester-long online portion of the study, data was also collected from an open-ended questionnaire and follow-up survey. The researchers conclude that role reversal is an integral part of teacher training which allows future instructors to better understand students’ learning difficulties and appropriately adapt the learning curriculum and teaching methods to meet the students’ needs. The article does note a handful of changes to the online system interface that would better facilitate future role-reversal experiments. Yeh and Yang conclude by stating that the effect of role reversal in different teaching environments (online or face-to-face) would need to be explored in a future study.

Keywords:  assessment, flipped classroom, computer-mediated classroom, surveys, instructor interaction, mixed methods, qualitative research quantitative research
OWI Principles:  4, 7, 11, 14, 15