Jaclyn M. Wells and I wrote Partners in Literacy to tell the story of a three-year community-based research project that joined the Purdue Writing Lab and its OWL with two adult education organizations in Lafayette, Indiana.
The project described in Partners in Literacy produced the Community Writing and Education Station (CWEST) on the Purdue OWL. Based on our research findings and personal experiences, Jaclyn and I argue that writing centers can be productive spaces for sustained civic engagement.
Partners in Literacy will be a valuable addition to the reading lists of courses in:
writing center theory and practice;
online writing labs (OWLs);
writing program administration and assessment;
civic engagement and service-learning;
professional writing and usability (UX);
online literacy and online writing instruction (OWI).
From the Foreward for Partners in Literacy
“…what makes this book especially relevant to those contemplating a move from the writing center to the public sphere is how Brizee and Wells share their experiences with—and strategies for—relationship building, design thinking, and empirical methods.” – Thomas Deans, University of Connecticut
What People are Saying About Partners in Literacy
“Partners in Literacy is a remarkable book—part investigative study, part ethnography, part personal reflection, part theoretical analysis, and part critical narrative—but the significance of this text goes far beyond those simple descriptors. Brizee and Wells offer a remarkably readable and deeply personal account of what it means and what it takes to engage in a research project whose primary foci are community outreach and civic engagement.” – Michael Pemberton, Georgia Southern University
“Partners in Literacy…promises to serve as a useful text for both researchers and practitioners of engaged pedagogy…this book should grace the shelves of all those interested in writing centers and community-engaged pedagogies.” – Rebecca Day Babcock, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
“As writing centers focus more and more on community involvement, the attention in Partners to all aspects of a project like CWEST makes an important and refreshing contribution to the conversation.” – Leigh Ryan, University of Maryland
“In the vein of scholarship like Eli Goldblatt’s Because We Live Here, Tiffany Rousculp’s Rhetoric of Respect, and the Everyday Writing Center, Brizee and Wells’ Partners in Literacy: A Writing Center Model for Civic Engagement offers a critical intervention for bridging the comfortable confines of conventional tutoring of academic writing to liminal spaces out in a larger community where a different sort of service, learning, and educational transformation can happen and be sustained…Brizee and Wells make tangible the legwork and lived lessons that writing center professionals would wisely heed if they seek to make effective, lasting partnerships. The text is a must-read for those in search of a model to guide their own outreach beyond campus, perhaps even within it too.” – Harry Denny, Purdue University
“Partnerships between university writing programs/writing centers and the communities that they border are often fraught with logistical, ethical, and philosophical challenges. In Partners in Literacy, Brizee and Wells guide readers through the challenges they faced to create the Community Writing and Education Station (CWEST), which focused on online resources for both adult literacy (particularly GED exam preparation) and job placement organizations…writing programs and writing center readers, whether currently engaged in such efforts or contemplating future ones, will be very well served by this book, including the cautions and the accomplishments the authors powerfully describe.” – Neal Lerner, Northeastern University
“Wells and Brizee give readers an honest and careful account of how they learned and what they learned from the participation as graduate students in a research partnership between the Purdue Writing Lab, the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy, and WorkOne Lafayette. They detail the ways they used that new knowledge to inform their work with community partnerships in their faculty positions post-graduation, giving credence to the claim that writing programs and writing program administrators learn from engagement.” – Shirley Rose, Arizona State University
Brief Table of Contents
Preface: Bridging University and Community Spaces
Chapter 1: Background and Methodology
Chapter 2: Community Partners and Overview of Research Methods
Chapter 3: Methods and Findings from Stage One – Developing the GED Resources
Chapter 4: Methods and Findings from Stages Two and Three – Developing the ESL and Job Document Resources
Chapter 5: Discussion and Conclusions
Chapter 6: Engagement as Professional Work
Epilogue: Looking Back, Looking Forward
– Chapter Heuristic Questions
– Research Protocols
About the Authors
Allen Brizee is an Associate Professor of Writing at Loyola University Maryland. Jaclyn M. Wells is an Assistant Professor of English and Writing Center Director at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.