Emily Nolan ’22 of Columbus, Ohio, and Jamie Spallino ‘23 of Rocky River, Ohio, along with Courtney Buck ’22 of Delaware, Ohio, had the opportunity to conduct research with Writing Center Director Mike Mattison as participants in Wittenberg’s First-Year Research Awards Program. The three are pictured above (Spallino, Nolan, and Buck, from left to right) presenting at the East Central Writing Centers Association Conference last semester. Designed to match outstanding students with the university’s award-winning faculty, the program allows selected students to work closely with a faculty member while pursuing exciting research opportunities during the student’s first year at Wittenberg. Here are their stories.
This year I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct research with Courtney Buck, Jamie Spallino, and Dr. Mike Mattison. This opportunity was made possible through the First Year Research Award (FYRA) scholarship program. This program pairs motivated students with a faculty member to work passionately on an exciting research project during a student’s first year at Wittenberg.
For our research, my group examined the effectiveness of comments in email sessions at our Writing Center. In order to begin our research, we took some time to familiarize ourselves with past research that has been conducted in the writing center field. Reading first about the research of others helped ground our own research. After we familiarized ourselves, we decided the taxonomy we were going to use to categorize our data and then spent a few weeks norming the same paper so we all felt comfortable applying the taxonomy. We spent the spring semester categorizing the data Dr. Mattison had collected the previous year until we were ready to present at the East Central Writing Centers Association (ECWCA) conference in April.
Presenting at the conference was an amazing experience. One of the things I quickly noticed while I was attending the conference was that we were the youngest presenters there. Most presenters were graduate students or experienced Writing Center directors. People were very impressed by our work, but they were even more impressed to discover that we were only first-year students. After our presentation, we were actually approached by a woman who wanted us to publish our presentation and transcript on her online database. We excitedly agreed to email her our research. The conference was extremely informative and allowed me to see what amazing things people in the writing center community are doing. I am thrilled to announce that the three of us will also be presenting the next stage of this research at the National Writing Center conference in October of this year!
This has been such an amazing journey that makes me feel very glad and fortunate to have chosen Wittenberg University. I cannot wait to see where this research takes me and my co-researchers in the future. I want to thank all those involved in this process, especially the FYRA program and Dr. Mattison, for making this opportunity possible!
This year, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to participate in the First Year Research Award (FYRA) program, which paired me with two other wonderful first-years and Dr. Mike Mattison to work together on a research project based in Wittenberg’s Writing Center. After learning the ropes of the Writing Center work, Emily, Courtney, and I looked into the effectiveness of the email comments our writing advisors send to their clients, including what kinds of comments they make and how students respond to them.
Then, at the beginning of April, we got to present our findings at the East Central Writing Centers Association Conference in Dayton! It was nerve-wracking, obviously, but overall a really great experience! Everyone there was so shocked to hear that we were only first-years, and that really drove home for me how unique and important this experience was for me. After all, how many other people can say that they presented at a conference within nine months of starting college? But that’s not all because the experience just kept getting better! After our presentation, a representative from the Online Writing Center Community approached us and offered to publish our presentation. It’s under consideration right now.
We’ll be continuing our research next year, and we were just accepted to present our findings at the International Writing Centers Association Conference in October as part of a larger panel with Dr. Mattison and a previous FYRA student to discuss the amazing opportunities that FYRA offered to us and the compelling research we’ve been able to do as a result. Overall, I’d say that the FYRA program has been one of the defining parts of my first-year experience here at Witt because it’s led to a presentation, the possibility of becoming a published author, AND a job on campus in the Writing Center, as well as some great friends and a good relationship with Dr. Mattison, who is now my advisor as well as my boss. I’d definitely recommend the FYRA program for any and all incoming students, and I’m so excited to see where it takes me next!