The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published two pieces that should be of interest to English instructors.
“What’s Wrong with Writing Centers” is an interview with Lori Salem, who argues that regular writing center practices “such as non directive instruction, in which tutors prompt students to come up with the right answers themselves; and a resistance to focusing upon grammatical errors — are most effective for privileged students in good academic standing.” Salem’s paper about the problems with writing centers and how they might change won the International Writing Centers Association’s 2017 Best Article Award. You can access her paper, published in The Writing Center Journal, here: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/561fea24e4b0355fd7db67b7/t/5a0b6926652dea2f6438af33/1510697254548/Salem%2C+WCJ%2C+35.2%2C+Final+Press+Copy.pdf.
If the Writing Center interview is not controversial enough for you, then you might consider reading “Why I Stopped Writing on My Students’ Papers.” This essay, written by Michael Millner, an associate professor of English and American studies at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, argues that individual conferences with students over their papers is far more effective than marking up the papers. Of course, the author does admit that having only 40 to 50 students a semester makes this kind of grading feasible. Also, in reading the essay, I got the sense that he’s mainly focused on literature students, not composition students, so I wonder how he thinks “grading conferences” would work when there are six or seven papers in a course, as opposed to three or four.