Learning from other fields: Using education research to inform writing center practice

Publication Date


Document Type



English and Comparative Literature

Publication Title

American Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference

Conference Location

Denver, CO


Despite the fact that English language learners (ELL) use writing center resources in high numbers, there has not been a significant body of writing center literature focused on this population (Nowacki 2012). In order to not reinvent the wheel, it can be productive for writing centers to look to other established and empirically researched fields for guidance on ELL students. We found the field of research on teacher education to be useful and generative, as scholars in that space have considered ways to best attend to the needs of ELL students in teaching and learning. In reading across that literature, a body of work termed linguistically responsive pedagogy (LRP; Lucas, Villegas, & Freedson-Gonzalez 2008) seemed particularly promising as a frame for enriching the work of writing centers with ELL students. LRP builds upon the celebrated approach of “culturally responsive pedagogy” (Ladson-Billings, 1994) which centers students’ cultural practices, as well as responsive work from the field of ELL research. The approach theorizes what such a pedagogy would look like in classroom practice, with the goal of building more meaningful and equitable pedagogy and diversifying the curriculum towards linguistic and social justice. We found that there was already significant overlap between that field and much work being done with ELLs in writing centers.

We begin our presentation by examining the relationship between writing centers and ELL students in order to bring attention to the overlap between LRP and writing centers. We then provide an overview of LRP. Lastly, we offer recommendations for how writing centers can translate LRP principles into writing center theory and practice. As writing center practitioners, we believe others who work in and with writing centers can draw on our presentation for rethinking their training offer consultants or even their approaches to consulting with ELL students.


This conference was cancelled.