The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors
First Edition   ©2015

The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors

Beth Hewett (Past Chair, CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in Online Writing)

  • ISBN-10: 1-4576-8432-2; ISBN-13: 978-1-4576-8432-6; Format: Paper Text, 240 pages


1. Benefits of Online Teacher/Tutor Conferencing

What an Online Conference Is

Who Conferences Online and Why

When and Why Conferencing Online Helps

Why Conferencing Online Is Hard to Do Well

2. Practical Matters

The Nature of the Writing Conference

Writing Conference Characteristics

Identify the Strengths of the Tools

3. Establishing Trust

Creating the Learning Environment

Setting Instructional Expectations

Helping Students to Set Agendas and Make Choices

Connecting with Students

Caring for Students

Letting Students Care for Us

4. Theories for Writing Response in Online Settings

Responding to Writing

Expressivism and OWI

Social Construction and OWI

Postprocess and OWI

Eclectic Approaches and OWI

5. First Steps for Writing Response in Online Settings

Know What You Are Talking About

Use Vocabulary Specific to Writing Instruction

Write at the Student’s Level

Choose Desired Outcomes

Writing Problem-Centered Lessons and Next Steps

6. The Orneriness of Language

What Students Say They Need in Conference-Based Commentary

Direct and Indirect Speech

"I’ve Got a Secret" (Direct and Indirect Commentary)

7. Using What Works


Where to Comment

Too Much and Too Little Commenting

Modeling by Proofing and Editing

Addressing Sensitive Issues

8. Ensuring Effective Conferences

Learning from Student Progress

Instructional Rubrics

Interactive Journals

Spontaneous or Scheduled Chats

Midterm and End-of-Term Surveys


Postscript: Toward a Theory of Conference-Based Teaching: 2015 Update

Appendix 1: A Study of Online Writing Instructor Perceptions

Appendix 2: Direct and Indirect Speech in Writing Response:

What, Why, How

Appendix 3: Instructor’s Study Guide