Grassroots Writing Research

Our Grassroots Approach to Writing Research

The goals of the ISU Writing Program are best understood through our “Grassroots Writing Research” philosophy. Our aims are to investigate literate activity through a range of different kinds of projects.

  • Writing and Reading about Writing Research is a key activity in our program. Our primary venue for grassroots writing research (both reading it and producing it) is our Grassroots Writing Research Journal. The journal is published twice each year. It includes articles by citizen writing researchers (which included high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, professional and writing research scholars). Teachers and students in our program have opportunities to write for the journal, but publication is open to writing researchers everywhere.
  • Talking about Writing Research happens in our classes, of course, and in all kinds of activities that our teachers engage in as part of their professional development.
    • However, we specifically talk about Writing Research as part of our Visiting Speakers Series (well-known scholars in Writing Studies visit campus each year).
    • Our Annual Writing Research Colloquium Series invites authors and researchers speak about their work to an audience of students and instructors, as well as other members of our ISU community.
    • Our “Let’s CHAT” Podcast Series brings together students and instructors to talk about issues of writing research that are important to our community. Topics can be related to specific theories or ideas we are exploring, different teaching strategies we employ, and conversations about the ways we understand and take up different concepts and ideas related to writing and literacy.
  • Enacting Writing Research means engaging actively and thoughtfully in everyday lived experience where writing matters. Our teachers and students create multiple opportunities to enact practical writing research—which involves thinking through and observing how writing works in daily life.
    • Through our Undergraduate Writing Research Scholarship, we also provide an opportunity for undergraduate scholars (students from ISU and other institutions are eligible) to engage in a year-long Writing Research project. Scholars publish their work in our Grassroots Writing Research Journal and also participate in our annual Writing Research Colloquium.
    • In addition, our Half-Mile Project brings together students and residents of our Bloomington-Normal Community to talk about how writing is produced and used in the daily lives of our Bloomington-Normal residents.
  • Collecting Writing Research is an activity that happens as part of the publication of our journal, but this activity is supported by our Grassroots Literate Activity Database, which is a project that collects details about particular writing activities as they are experienced by groups and individuals.


Grassroots Writing Research Links:

  • The Grassroots Writing Research Journal: Journal is the primary publication of the Illinois State University Writing Program.  The journal has been in publication since 2009.
  • The ISU Writing Program Visiting Speakers Series:  The ISU Writing Program brings Writing Studies scholars who focus on research on Literate Activity, Genre Studies and Cultural Historical Activity theory to share their work and interact in various sessions faculty and students at Illinois State.
  • The Grassroots Writing Research Colloquium: Our Annual Writing Research Colloquium is designed to showcase the work of our Writing Research Fellowship award winners, (see link below), but we also invite other authors published in our Grassroots Writing Research Journal to share additional ideas about their work or narratives about their research, writing, and publication process.  Videos of colloquium presentations are available.
  • The “Let’s CHAT” Podcast Series:  Our Writing Program Podcast Series, “Let’s CHAT” bring both instructors and students in the Writing Program together to discuss topics of specific interest to our program.  Podcast tapings are open to the public, but recorded podcasts can also be downloaded.
  • The Undergraduate Writing Research Scholarship: Our Undergraduate Writing Research Fellowship offers up to two $500.00 award to undergraduate Writing Researchers (who need not be students at Illinois State). These Writing Fellows spend a full year work on an in-depth writing research project. The present at our Writing Research Colloquium and also publish their work in our Grassroots Writing Research Journal.
  • The Half-Mile Project: The Half-Mile project works to bring community members into the writing program as part of an event that an instructor and students can win (we have a drawing) at the beginning of each semester. The event (and writing produced and discussed during the event) is then documented (including video clips) that can be used by other instructors in the program as part of an ongoing discussion about how writing research works in the real world.
  • The Grassroots Literate Activity Database: (New Project!) The GLAD will be an open database that researchers (of all kinds) can use to better understand what people actually do when they engage in different kinds of writing and composing in their daily lives. Participants share details about some different kinds of writing situations, either by filling out an online survey or through face-to-face meetings with one of our researchers.