That hasn't changed, even as the conference has grown bigger. What has changed, though, is the quality of presentations. Always fine—no complaints—but this year, terrific. Part of that is no doubt because I've been tweeting all the sessions, and I'm discovering that tweeting them helps me concentrate on them. Nice.
Anyhow, with Sue McLeod's permission, I want to replicate her handout in the session "Scholarly Publishing in Hard Times." As one of my tweets said, she urged WPAs to partner with their campus Office of Institutional Research to produce data-driven research. The WPA may not know about quantitative methods, but the OIR office does. They can then conduct what Rich Haswell calls RAD (replicable, aggregable, and data supported) research. They should then submit book-length reports of their research to Parlor's WPA series. Which Sue edits. This is incredibly important, because many people involved with data-driven composition research find few composition venues for their publications. For all of you out there who are interested: Sue is telling you how to get such research done without completely reschooling yourself, and she's telling you a book publisher that wants this research.
Her handout for the session lists published examples of the kind of research she's promoting, so that people interested in tooling up for data-driven research can see how it's written up:
Hansen, Kristine, et al. "An Argument for Changing Institutional Policy on Granting AP Credit in English: An Empirical Study of College Sophomores."WPA Journal 28 (2004): 29-54.
Haswell, Richard. "Documenting Improvement in College Writing: A Longitudinal Approach." Written Communication 17 (2000): 307-52.
McLeod, Susan, Heather Horn, and Richard Haswell. "Accelerated Classes and the Writers at the Bottom: A Local Assessment Story." College Composition and Communication 56.4 (2005): 556-80.
And Sue recommends this book for all the help it offers with conducting such research:
Rose, Shirley K., and Irwin Weiser, eds. The Writing Program Administrator as Researcher: Inquiry in Action and Reflection. Portsmouth, NJ: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1999.