MA-AL Graduate Student Presents at East Central Writing Center Association Conference
Benjamin Sparks, a Masters of Arts student in Applied Linguistics, recently presented at the East Central Writing Center Association Conference (ECWA). According to the ECWA’s mission, the purpose of the conference is to “fosters communication, encourages scholarship and research, and promotes effective practices among colleagues in secondary, community college, and university writing centers.” Benjamin’s presentation, Assessing Linguistic Bias in New Writing Center Consultants, focused on linguistic discrimination at university writing centers. Through his presentation, he described why the topic was relevant, proposed a method to collect relevant data, and made suggestions as to how writing centers could use such data to inform consultants’ training.
Regarding his presentation, Benjamin said his ultimate goal “was to promote efforts that challenge writing center staff to think critically about academic writing, [meaning] why we choose to value a single language variety over all others, and the sociopolitical implications and consequences of that choice.” He also found that conferences have helped him contextualize his work as part of a bigger conversation on a national and global scale. He has also found conferences to be reaffirming as being part of a community who share concerns and are working toward a common goal. He said, “I returned from the ECWCA with a renewed sense of purpose and fresh ideas”.
Benjamin also wanted to thank all the MA-AL faculty who have been instrumental in his success, with a special mention to his mentor and thesis advisor Dr. Colleen Brice. He also thanked English department professor Dr. Lindsay Ellis, Writing Center Specialist Melanie Rabine-Johnson, and Writing Center Director Patrick Johnson for their helpful conversations and insights.
Benjamin is currently working on finishing his thesis, which is on the same topic as his presentation, and looks forward to working overseas as an English teacher in the future. Congratulations to Benjamin on his success!