WPA Mentoring Project Report
To: Our WPA Colleagues
From: Joe Janangelo, Duane Roen, and Sheldon Walcher
Subject: Preface and Executive Summary of The CWPA Mentoring Survey
Date: March 8, 2010
We are writing to thank everyone who took of The WPA Mentoring Survey and to share this summary of the report we presented to the CWPA Executive Committee. This report has 3 parts:
I. Introduction and Three Key Findings
II. Discussion: Overview of Demographics, The Desire for Mentoring, Technology, CWPA Events at the MLA and CCC Conferences, CWPA, WPA Work and Institutional Diversity, Perceived Divide between Untenured and Tenured WPAs, Additional Recommendations from Respondents
III. A Description of Initiatives Undertaken
We look forward to hearing your responses and your ideas for improving CWPA and mentoring strategies for WPAs. An invitation to volunteer is in the Call for Papers for the WPA 2010 Conference (http://www.drexel.edu/wpa2010/). You can also use this space to respond to us. We’d love to hear from you.
Executive Summary and Proposed Actions: The CWPA Mentoring Project Survey
For the 2009 Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) Summer Conference, Joe Janangelo, Duane Roen, and Sheldon Walcher designed several projects and events that focused on learning what CWPA’s members want in terms of ongoing professional mentoring. One of projects was The CWPA Mentoring Project Survey, developed by Sheldon Walcher in collaboration with Duane and Joe.
The survey was circulated in print and online for eight weeks beginning July 8, 2009. 123 people participated in the study and 108 participants completed the survey, a completion rate of just under 88 percent. The survey asked participants to evaluate their experiences with the organization. Specific questions focused on mentoring, technology, CWPA events, institutional diversity, and differences in priorities and needs of various constituencies. This summary includes findings relevant to CWPA members and allies; a longer report was distributed to the Executive
Findings: Challenges, Opportunities and Actions
The majority of feedback was positive. Of 109 people who answered the question, “How satisfied are you overall with the tools, resource, and opportunities that the Council of Writing Program Administrators provides its members for professional development and collaboration,” over 70 percent indicated that there was either “no room” or “minor room” for improvement our organization’s work. Feedback also pointed to three relevant patterns for organizational consideration regarding future efforts:
1. CWPA has a diverse membership (e.g. different instructional ranks and institutional types) constituencies within the organization have different needs, attitudes, and priorities. Members of these different constituencies define their needs differently, often along lines of rank and affiliation. Responses indicated a need for CWPA to focus on WPA work in non-research one universities, especially; particular mention was made of two-year institutions, small liberal arts colleges, and contexts where the person directing a “writing program” (e.g., a writing center) did not hold the official title of “WPA.”
2. There is a perception among several constituencies that the interests of larger research institutions often dominate CWPA’s conversations and practices.
3. There is an expressed desire for formal mentoring within the organization, especially among instructors holding ranks other than full professor. The survey data also indicated that access to mentoring is quite limited, especially for non-tenure track instructors.
Actions Thus Far
Based in part on The Mentoring Committee’s recommendations, CWPA has started or is in the process of starting several new initiatives. We welcome suggestions for additional avenues to constructively address issues raised in this document and the mentoring report. Key initiatives include:
Redesigning the WPA Breakfast
Acting on recommendations of The CWPA Mentoring Committee Report, CWPA Breakfast Committee has devised ways of making the CCCC CWPA Breakfast even more collegial and interactive. To that end, the 2010 CWPA Breakfast will feature a number of themed “Table Talk” tables that are aimed at supporting conversations and building community. Board members and WPA colleagues will serve as “ambassadors” and WPA will make a more focused effort to make sure that newcomers receive a warm and attentive welcome. Tables organized by topics of interest to breakfast attendees (voted on via electronic survey distributed with breakfast announcement). WPAmbassadors will be at each table to facilitate discussion around topics of interest.
CWPA’s leadership is also undertaking further initiatives including:
Cuppa Coffee – CWPA provides funding (up to $25) for members to have coffee/lunch with colleagues from other institutions so that they can get to know one another.
WPA Outreach – CWPA members propose sessions at TYCA, IWCA, and other conferences to open/maintain dialogue on projects of shared interest.
Expanding the WPA 2010 Conference - A Graduate Student Committee has been formed to work on WPA conference. The conference will include several session formats to accommodate various kinds of presentations and designed to facilitate maximum contact/conversation among participants
Expanding the CWPA Mentoring Project
1. In order to achieve more inclusive and diverse perspectives on professional development and mentoring, the WPA Mentoring Project Committee has been expanded to include Tim Dougherty (a graduate student at the University of Minnesota) and Michele Eodice (immediate past president of the International Writing Centers Association). In continuing its work, the Committee will seek more volunteers, suggestions, and ideas.
2. Based on the success of the Mentoring Portal events at the 2009 Conference, future conferences and events will include some opportunities, sessions, or more direct recognition of mentoring as a commitment to the future of the field. Most immediately, the 2010 WPA Conference in Philadelphia will feature a number of mentoring events driven by our members’ ideas, needs and concerns.
3. In order to provide additional opportunities to learn from colleagues working in a range of institutional and professional contexts, a rolling Mentoring Blog will be created where members can ask and respond to questions pertinent to their professional development and work. The blog will offer posts by volunteer and invited bloggers (representing a wide range of perspectives/experience/ranks), responding to questions posed by members. In addition to serving as a clearinghouse for professional development, we are investigating ways such a site might be used to facilitate the formation of mentoring relationships (a space where those seeking mentoring on a variety of levels might be matched up with others).
4. The Committee and volunteers will also compile annotated Mentoring Resources by creating an online space where members can post links to works about mentoring (in any media or genre), with 500-word descriptions of its relevance. We hope this would help members seeking information about how mentoring is implemented across institutional contexts and various levels (e.g. undergraduate mentoring, graduate, faculty, etc.).
5. We hope to honor excellence in mentoring by creating a digital “Mentoring Mosaic” where members can post stories about successful mentoring. Highlighting such moments will give us a better sense of practices, traditions, and innovations in mentoring. It will also give members a public opportunity to honor those who have helped them, and may prompt reflection and contributions as people comment on and respond to such stories.