Research program

Portrait of Carol Severino
Carol Severino, Writing Center Director

Carol Severino’s research program is the only one in the US to combine scholarship from composition studies and applied linguistics to study issues in second language writing (SLW) by analyzing data collected in the Writing Center, an unusually rich language data source. She more firmly defined this research program and issued a call for more of this type of work with the publication of the “Writing Center as Site for Cross-language Research” (1994). Over the years her SLW interests have evolved along with the relatively new SLW field: from stances of response to SL writers (Severino, 1993, “Sociopolitical,” reprinted in an collection, see below) and the influence of contrastive rhetoric (Severino, 1993, “Doodles”) and the fascinating phenomenon of inadvertent SLW poetry (Severino, 1994, “Inadvertent”) to comparing L1 and L2 writers’ online tutoring feedback requests (Severino, Swenson, & Zhu, 2009); SLW vocabulary and word choice errors and their causes (Severino & Deifell, 2011; and Severino & Prim, 2013; 2015) and most recently, to broader and more complex issues of SLW development over time (Severino & Prim, 2016; Severino, Egan, & Prim, 2020) and the influence of second language acquisition theories on writing center research (Severino & Illana-Mahiques, 2020). She is currently studying teaching with writing, both in terms of using writing to learn a second language and how best to incorporate more writing into the curriculum more broadly. See selected bibliography below.

She has worked with many different graduate student and colleague co-authors from Rhetoric, English, SLA, Spanish, Education, and Music, benefitting from their expertise and in turn helping contribute to their professional development.

With articles and chapters on second language writing and other writing center issues in numerous journals and books, some of which have been reprinted, she has helped make the Writing Center visible as an essential component of Iowa as the Writing University. She has simultaneously kept up her scholarship and creative work about foreign language learning, teaching, and writing and about travel.

In addition, graduate students and international scholars have used the Writing Center as a research site, some for dissertations in the College of Education, among them Lu Ann Dvorak, Carmen Mota de Cabrera, Kai-Lin Wu, and Jose Villalobos on his Fulbright. Brian Goedde from the Non-Fiction program published an essay, “Lorrain’s Story,” about his work with a student in the Writing Center in Writing on the Edge. We read this in the graduate course Teaching in a Writing Center as an example of creative non-fiction on tutoring as many students in the Non-Fiction program take the class.

Selected publications based on data collected in Iowa’s Writing Center:

Severino, C. (1993). The sociopolitical implications of response to second language writing. Journal of Second Language Writing 2 (3), 181-201. Reprinted in 2006 in P. Matsuda, M. Cox, J. Jordan, and C Ortmeier-Hooper. (Eds.) Second language writing in the composition classroom: A critical sourcebook. (333-350). Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s.

Severino, C. (1993). The “doodles” in context: Qualifying claims about contrastive rhetoric. Writing Center Journal 14 (1), 44-62.

Severino, C. (1994). The writing center as site for cross-language research. Writing Center Journal 15 (1). 51-61.

Severino, C. (2002). Writing centers as contact zones. in J. Wolff (Ed.) Professing in the contact zone. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2002, 230-239. (reprint from a 1994 Writing Lab Newsletter article)

Severino, C. (2004). International students in a learning center: Self-perceptions of their EFL and ESL preparation for academic writing in the U.S.” The Learning Assistance Review 9 (2). 5-17.

Severino, C. & Williams, J. (2004). Introduction to our guest co-edited issue of Journal of Second Language Writing on second language writers in the writing center 13 (3), 165-172.

Severino, C. & Trachsel, M. (2004). Starting a writing fellows program: Crossing disciplines or crossing pedagogies? International Journal of Learning 11, 449-455.

Severino, C. (2005). Crossing cultures with ESL writers: The tutor as contact person in the contact zone. In B. Rafoth. (Ed.). A tutor’s guide: Helping writers one to one. 2nd ed. (41-53). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Boynton Cook.

Severino, C. (2009). Avoiding appropriation. In S. Bruce and B. Rafoth (Eds.) ESL writers: A guide for writing center tutors. 2nd ed. (51-66). Heineman/Boynton Cook. Reprinted in Landmark essays in contemporary writing center studies, forthcoming, NY: Routledge, Fall 2020.

Severino, C. & Knight, M. (2007). Exporting writing center pedagogy: Writing fellows programs as ambassadors for the writing center. In W. Macauley & N. Mauriello (Eds.) Marginal words, marginal work: Tutoring the academy in the work of the writing center. (19-33). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. Reprinted in 2011 in C. Murphy & S. Sherwood (Eds.) St. Martin’s sourcebook for writing center tutors. 4th ed. (214-227) Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Severino, C. & Coggins-Mosher, C. (2008). Invitations and Voices: Fostering creative expression. In S. Bruce & K. Dvorak (Eds). Creative approaches to writing center work. (235-260). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Severino, C. & Trachsel, M. (2008). Theories of specialized discourses and writing fellows programs. Across the Disciplines 5.

Severino, C., Swenson, J., & Zhu, J. (2009). A comparison or online feedback requests by non-native English- speaking and native English-speaking writers. Writing Center Journal 28 (1), 106-130.

Severino, C. & Gilchrist. M. (2010). A university’s writing practices from the inside perspective of the writing center. Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies 12 (1), 181-188.

Severino, C., Gilchrist, M., & Rainey, E. (2010). Second language writers inventing identities through creative work and performance. In M. Cox, C. Ortmeir-Hooper, J. Jordan, & G. Schwartz (Eds.) Reinventing identities in second language writing. (174-94). Urbana, IL: NCTE. 2010..

Severino, C. & Deifell, E. (2011). Empowering L2 tutoring: A case study of a second language writer’s vocabulary learning. Writing Center Journal 31 (1), 25-54.

Severino, C. & Prim S. (2013). Word-choice errors in Chinese writers’ ESL writing and tutors’ online responses to them. In N. Estevez & B. Clavel (Eds.), The acquisition of a second language in the new European education system. (229-243). Valencia: Spain. University of Valencia Press.

Severino, C. & Prim, S. (2015). Word choice errors in Chinese students’ English writing and how online tutors respond to them. Writing Center Journal 34 (2) 115-143.

Severino, C. (2016). Foreword to S. Bruce & B. Rafoth (Eds.). Tutoring second language writers. (vii-viii). Logan, UT: Utah State UP.

Severino, C. & Cogie, J. (2016). Writing centers and second and foreign language writing. In R. Manchón & P. Matsuda (Eds.), Handbook of second and foreign language writing. (453-472). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Severino, C. & Prim, S. (2016). Second language writing development and the role of tutors: A case study of an online Writing Center “Frequent Flyer.” Writing Center Journal 36 (3), 143-165.

Severino, C. (2018). Everything I learned about college writing I learned in the first grade (and vice versa). WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship (Sept/Oct). 10-11.

Severino, C. & Illana-Mahiques (2020). Second language acquisition theories and writing center research. In J. Mackiewicz & R. Babcock (Eds.) Theories and methods of writing center studies: A practical guide. (94-105). NY: Routledge.

Severino, C., Egan, D. & Prim, S. (2020). International Undergraduates’ Perceptions of their Second Language Writing Development and Their Implications for Writing Center Tutors. Writing Center Journal 38 (1).