University News

WIU Writing Program Reviews, Revises Curriculum

April 28, 2014

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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University Writing Program has undergone an intensive review and revision of its curriculum for three English classes, leading to a new Fall 2014 program.

In January 2013, the Writing Program had an external review by the Council of Writing Program Administrators. Two professors of writing studies, Florida State Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English and Distinguished Research Professor Kathleen Blake Yancey and University Distinguished Professor and Director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University Chris Anson, evaluated the WIU program.

Through their final report in April 2013, Yancey and Anson recommended that the WIU Writing Program "engage in a multi-stage curricular review process." They also noted that the WIU program is in a unique position to update its curriculum because of the "shared interest in assuring students a visionary program informed by and in dialogue with curricular innovations taking place on the national scene."

Representatives of the WIU Department English and Journalism have taken the report and developed new course objectives through working with faculty members who teach composition.

In Fall 2014, the department will pilot a new curriculum with a few sections of English 100, 180, and 280. The new programming will include a portfolio assessment to gauge student learning in the pilot sections. Based on those assessments, the curriculum will be adjusted for a second series of pilot sections in Spring 2015. The hope is to implement the new curriculum program wide in Fall 2015.

The new curriculum is built around five guiding principles: Language is social—and so is writing; Writing is work that involves play; Thinking, reading, and writing are intimately connected to each other and to identity; Writing concepts and practices are transferrable and Community is important to the process of writing.

"The Writing Program at Western is lucky to be staffed by dedicated, full-time, continuing faculty who participate in numerous professional development sessions each semester," said Writing Program Director Magdelyn Helwig. "Their vision, hard work, and true concern for Western's students have made this intensive process a success."

For more information on the WIU Writing Program, visit

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