Project by LAU Faculty Members Aims to Create Mechanism for Research-Sharing in Writing Centers

Two Faculty members in the Department of English at LAU’s School of Arts and Sciences have won a grant from the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA) to conduct research to create a bilingual research database for writing centers in the MENA region.

“The research group is tasked with laying the foundation for a research infrastructure in the region,” said Senior Instructor of English Paula Abboud Habre.

The one-year project also aims to “break new grounds by integrating Arabic scholarship and resources into the database that embraces linguistic diversity and increases access for new groups of scholars,” she explained.

The grant includes faculty members from University of Texas at Arlington, King Saud University, the American University of Kuwait, and Texas A&M in Qatar. Participating in the research from LAU are Habre, the former director of the LAU Writing Center, and Instructor of English Hala Daouk, who is also the center’s former assistant director.

“The idea was inspired by a research-working group at the biennial Middle East-North Africa Writing Centers Alliance (MENWCA) conference that was hosted at LAU in Beirut in April 2019,” said Habre. Both Habre and Daouk are MENAWCA board members.

“During that discussion, participants agreed that our top priority was to create a mechanism for sharing research within the region and to foster new research about MENA writing centers, which serve multilingual students,” she added.The conference was the first to be held in Lebanon and tackled a variety of topics such as best writing practices, multilingualism, developing resilient writing programs, and managing the scope, services and students in writing centers. 

The team is now drafting the survey questions which will be sent to national and regional schools and universities to collect relevant data.

Upon receiving the congratulatory letter from IWCA Grants Chair Travis Webster, “I felt immense pride to be part of a research that is, in his own words, “an outstanding contribution to writing center research,” said Daouk, who is also MENAWCA’s representative at IWCA.

Over the years, the LAU Writing Center has fostered connections with a wide network of high schools and sister universities as part of its outreach program launched in 2016. The Writing Center team has since offered several training workshops on the theoretical and pragmatic elements of writing centers. The outreach program was launched when it became evident that local schools needed writing hubs.