Research and Development

About SWCA R&D

The SWCA Research & Development (R&D) Committee is focused on using institutional and organizational research to provide enhanced resources and opportunities for members of the writing center community.

The SWCA R&D Committee is gathering and analyzing data focused on the development of a certification process. Reports and updates will be available here as the process progresses.

The Process

2017: Launched SWCA-wide survey to gather information on certification planning and programs

2017: Analyzed data focused on pilot certification planning and programs. See the manuscript below for an overview and analysis of the pilot phase:

Carpenter, Russell, Scott Whiddon, and Courtnie Morin. “‘For Writing Centers, By Writing Centers’: A New Model for Certification via Regional Organizations.” WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship. 42.1-2 (2017). 2-9.

2017: Launched pilot certification process with two SWCA-member institutions

2017: Invited audio reflection from two SWCA-member institutions based on experience with certification pilot program

2017: Launched v 1.1 of certification rubrics and tools (available below in Resources)

2018: Designed and conducted focus group interviews regarding value added through regional organization (SWCA) certification process

2018: Shared research and update on certification design process at SWCA 2018. See slides linked below:

Carpenter, Russell, Scott Whiddon, and Courtnie Morin. “Research Toward a Writing Center Certification Process: Findings, Research, and Implications.” Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference. Richmond, VA. 22 February 2018. [View slides here.]

2018: Announced centers certified through pilot program

2018: Launched updated certification process for 2018-2019 (2.0)

2018: Analyzed data regarding value-added SWCA certification interviews

Learn More About Certification


The SWCA R&D Committee invites centers to apply for certification during the 2018-2019 year. Certification applications are welcomed on a rolling basis. Centers receiving certification during the 2018-2019 year will be acknowledged at the 2019 SWCA conference. Representatives from SWCA certified centers will be invited to contribute to future research and development efforts.

Certification Application

The 2018-2019 certification application is available here.

About the SWCA Certification Review Process

Each certification application will be reviewed by two members of the SWCA R&D committee. Reviewers will read and evaluate materials based on the annual review cycle.  

Annual Review Cycle

Pre-selected centers can submit their applications for review by the following dates each year by completing the brief Intent to Apply form. The annual review process includes three cycles (A-C). Potential certification applicants must notify the Chair of the R&D committee of the intent to apply by December 10 of the preceding year. The process will be coordinated in the order in which notifications are received.


 Submission Deadline

 Decision Response


 January 15

 April 15


 May 15

 August 15


 September 15

 December 15

Certified Centers


Athens State University Writing Center (Athens, AL)

Nova Southeastern University Writing & Communication Center (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)


Please contact Dr. Russell Carpenter, SWCA Research & Development Committee Chair, with any questions or for more information about the 2018-2019 certification process.

2018-2019 R&D Committee and Researchers

Dr. Russell Carpenter

Dr. Scott Whiddon

Courtnie Morin

Dr. Kevin Dvorak

Dr. Joy Bracewell


Click on a topic to expand/collapse.

  1. What is your current role?
    • If you answered other to the question above, what is your role?

  2. Faculty Status
    • If you answered other to the question above, what is your status?

  3. Institution
    • Please note the types of tutors in your program.

  4. Is your writing center already certified through an existing organization?
    • If you answered yes to the question above, please indicate which organization.

  5. If your writing center is certified through a national organization, what motivated you to pursue certification?

  6. Have you explored certification options but not pursued them?
    • If you answered yes to question above, please explain why.

  7. What elements of writing center life or practice do you think should be valued in the certification process? Please select all that apply.
    • If you answered other to the question above, please list additional elements here.

  8. What factors would motivate you to pursue certification?

  9. What factors would inhibit your participation in certification process(es)? What factors would inhibit your participation in a potential SWCA certification process in particular?

  10. Does your writing center incorporate national frameworks into training and professional development programs or writing center documents?
    • If you answered yes to the question above, which organizational frameworks from the list below?
      • If you answered other, please indicate the organization(s).

  11. Does your program provide and require training for staffers as part of their hiring or employment?
    • If yes to the question above, are there sequential levels or modules of training in your program? Please explain.

  12. Are certifications from professional organizations explicitly tied to pay raises in your program, or to an increase in budgetary allocations?
    • If you answered yes to the question above, why is this (or do you think this) is the case?

  13. What recommendations do you have, if any, for SWCA members exploring the potential for a certification program?

  14. Are you, or have you been, an SWCA board member within the past five years?
    • If you answered yes to the question above, given your experience via statewides, conference collaborations, etc, do you have additional recommendations for the possibility of a SWCA-based certification program?

  15. Do you have any other recommendations or comments you’d like to share?

  1. Which parts of this process were the most meaningful to you and the community members in your writing center (staff and other professionals)?

  2. The history of the conversation about certification is rhetorical, about how people notice it and about how people perceive it. In what ways do you anticipate this certification (and process) will make a difference at your institution?

  3. Did this experience give you an opportunity to reconsider practices (including but not limited to educational development of staff, spatial design, programmatic structure, etc.)? If so, how?

Interview Questions

2018 SWCA Conference | Richmond, VA

  1. What is the value of SWCA in terms of your professional/scholarly life? Please provide an example, if possible.

  2. What is the value of SWCA in terms of your teaching life (with teaching defined broadly)? Please provide an example, if possible.

  3. What is the value of SWCA in terms of how you see service? Please provide an example, if possible.

  4. What is the value of SWCA in terms of your day to day life in writing center work? Please provide an example, if possible.

  5. How does your direct report (Dean, etc) value your participation in SWCA? Please provide an example, if possible.

  6. How can (participating in) SWCA add more “value” to your career/center/staff?

SWCA 2017

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