Program Philosophy

The Illinois State University Writing Program is a progressive organization that works to directly address long-enduring attitudes about writing. With the knowledge that these attitudes are often based on misinformed perceptions of how writing knowledge is actually learned and applied, we hope to constantly question and re-think our goals as students and teachers to create an enduring infrastructure in which the investigation of and research into writing practices is the center of our teaching and learning. Many areas of theory and research—including rhetorical genre studies, systemic functional linguistics, English for Specific Purposes, activity theory, cultural-historical activity theory, actor network theory, theories of community and identity, and writing and cognition—impact our work.

These sections of our Writing Program Instructor’s Guide offer a short overview of the philosophies and concepts that actively shape our pedagogy.

Introduction and Overview:  This document is a basic overview of the courses we teach and our approach to teaching.

Program Philosophies and Concepts: This slightly longer document outlines the important theories, terms and concepts that shape our pedagogy.  It also includes bibliography for further reading.

Within the Writing Program, we strive to meet the following core goals:

  • students learn to produce writing that represents the kind of reflective and critical inquiry necessary to serve responsibly in civic arenas and to succeed in academic and professional contexts;
  • instructors from different areas of English Studies and academic levels prepare to teach writing, continue their education and experience professional growth;
  • members from the local community and the state gain a better understanding of the complex processes and products referred to simply as “writing”;
  • research and creativity thrive;
  • technology is integral, with the Program being the first nationwide to offer all writing classes in computer classrooms;
  • people are friendly and supportive.

White Papers on CHAT and Genre

This page offers links to a variety of documents design to assist instructors in developing a genre studies and cultural-historical activity theory pedagogy for writing instruction.  Some of these documents are designed primarily for instructors to use as they work to better understand and incorporate terms and concepts we use in the program. Others are at least partially designed for students (as handouts) to help them understand or practice important concepts.

Continue reading

WP Documents, Forms & Reports

This page includes forms and documents that relate to writing program procedures and activities.  Most of these materials pertain to the current semester.

Public Resources for Teaching Writing

Here are helpful links to publicly available resources for writing and teaching writing.

Julia N. Visor Academic Center – The Visor Center offers free tutoring for students and also has a grammar hotline for the public.

National Writing Project – The NWP contains many resources for teaching writing.

Purdue OWL – Purdue’s Online Writing Lab is a comprehensive guide to citation styles. This website offers over 200 free resources about, writing and teaching writing, research, grammar and mechanics, style guides, ESL (English as a Second Language), and professional writing.

American Rhetoric – This site is a database of and index to 5000+ full text, audio and video versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, other recorded media events, and a declaration or two.

Writing Center U Iowa – This U Iowa Writing Center page is a resource for teaching rhetorical analysis.  It includes definitions of rhetorical analysis, handouts, and sample rhetorical analyses.

CompPile – CompPile is an inventory of publications in post-secondary composition, rhetoric, technical writing, ESL, and discourse studies.

Teaching College English – This blog provides articles, sample lessons, and discussions about teaching college English.

Welcome to ISU!


If you’re visiting this page because  you’re a new instructor for the Writing Program at Illinois State University, congrats! We’re so excited to have you! Use this page as a jumping-off point to get familiar with what you’ll be doing when you arrive.

Checklist Items for Living in Normal

Before arriving at ISU, you may want to do the following:

  • View a map of ISU to get your bearings. The Writing Program is in Stevenson Hall, which is in the southeast part of campus.
  • Check out the Uptown Normal website, which has information on local dining options. Uptown Normal is just a block or so from Stevenson Hall and is likely a place that you’ll hang out a lot.
  • Think about parking. You’ll want to visit the Office of Parking and Transportation and buy your parking pass for the semester before orientation begins. (If you don’t have time to do this, you can also park in the nearby Marriott garage at an hourly rate, whether or not you are a guest at the hotel, during orientation.)
  • Be aware of other transportation options. We have an Amtrak station a short walk (about three blocks) from Stevenson Hall (the code for that station is BNL), and Normal runs an affordable bus system.
  • International students can find more information about the things you’ll need to do while getting started at Illinois State on the International Studies New Students page.

Checklist Items for Preparing for Orientation (as well as work and school in general)

Your welcome letter, which you’ll receive via snail mail, will give you information about what you should do to prepare for orientation. But if you want to be super-prepared, consider doing the following:

  • Visit our About page and look over the Learning Outcomes and the Instructor’s Guide. In the Instructor’s Guide (which is a long document), use the table of contents to focus on the sections that pertain to your specific job.
  • Meet the team. These are the people who administrate the Writing Program. Some of them are fellow graduate students whose jobs are to help you as a Writing Program instructor, but you’ll also see us in your classes.
  • Check the blog or the calendar for the schedule for orientation. (The blog will have more detailed descriptions, but the calendar might be easier to print.) The tentative schedule should usually be posted by May. Orientation is generally held during the two weeks before classes start in August.
  • Check out the website for the Department of English website to get other information about your new intellectual home. This site includes information on assistantships and the Graduate Handbook. It also includes information on upcoming course offerings.
  • Feel free to ask additional questions on the Writing Program’s Facebook page.
  • Contact us (  if you have any other questions. We’ll be happy to hear from you!