College of Arts and Sciences

Writing Program Philosophy

The Writing Program at Western Illinois University recognizes writing as influenced by complex intuitive, cognitive, rhetorical, social, and ecological processes that develop through social acquisition, training, and reflective practice.

Central to the mission of the Writing Program is meeting WIU’s educational aims for the undergraduate curriculum:

  • the ability to analyze, think critically, and form reasoned conclusions,
  • competence in communicating views and ideas clearly and cogently,
  • and an understanding of the methods by which people pursue knowledge.

The Writing Program meets these aims by developing specific writing contexts: writing that is useful toward learning and discovering, writing based on popular and scholarly research, and writing that articulates an informed position or persona toward a current event or issue, philosophical or moral value, or personal experience or observation.

Writing instruction in these contexts develops critical thinking and promotes rhetorical agility, both of which will help students more effectively master the genres and writing conventions of their chosen fields, and fosters personal growth and empowerment, academic achievement, and participation in public and disciplinary discourse, setting the foundation for lifelong learning.

Because writing is central to our civic and academic identities, we believe that all instructors in the Writing Program are integral to the success of this mission and must be treated respectfully, fairly, and with dignity and compensated fairly for their contributions.

To further accomplish this mission, we also hold the following:

  • We base our goals and objectives on elements of contemporary writing theory.
  • We approach the writing process not as a single series of steps to train our students to follow, but rather as a complex, recursive, contextual, and individually determined practice.
  • We recognize that writing is contextual rather than monolithic. For example, discourse conventions valued in psychology are different from those valued in history. Because writing is contextual, mastery of discourse conventions that enable achievement in some writing situations may carry over to other writing situations with extended practice.
  • We believe that writing is embedded in complicated networks of meaning, power, and technology. As such, we recognize that literacy practices are intimately tied to identity and that students’ writing problems may be the result of ideological/cultural conflict, rather than deficits in cognitive intelligence. We therefore integrate difference into the composition classroom and teach students how to negotiate these conflicts.
  • We believe writing is a powerful tool that has the potential to be socially transformative. As such, we are committed to helping students become critically conscious of the potential transformative power of writing by valuing the richness and interplay of intellectual, social, cultural, and ethnic diversity.
  • We recognize that knowledge is socially constructed. As such, our pedagogy is student-centered, often requiring students to talk about writing in group situations, from peer review workshops to writing conferences.
  • We believe that writing with technology is important, not just because students will be able to make practical use of computer skills, but because computer-mediated writing has a significant influence on both the writing process and on our understanding of how writing works. We thus value teaching in computer labs where the influence of technology on writing can be critically examined.
  • We believe in the importance of fostering dialogue across communities, both civic and academic, about the importance and function of writing.

Adopted by the Writing Committee, 2009-2010.


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