Research on Writing at Western Forum

The Writing Instruction Support program sponsors annual Writing Research Fellowships that offer faculty-student pairs an opportunity to develop a study investigating the effectiveness of a particular writing instruction practice being used in the classroom. The 2014-2015 faculty-student pairs will be presenting their research at this forum.

2014 Backwards by Design Working Retreat 

Are you a WWU faculty member who teaches with writing?  If so, we invite you to participate in "Backwards by Design: A Working Retreat for Faculty Who Teach With Writing." WIS is providing a late summer professional development opportunity for faculty focused on developing practices for enhancing writing instruction.

This three-day retreat will run Tuesday, August 26 through Thursday, August 28 at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center nestled in the woods and near the water in Anacortes. All expenses for travel, lodging, food, and materials are covered.  An additional stipend will be available to participants who submit a brief follow-up survey identifying what specific ideas/practices they gained from the retreat followed by a brief write-up within the 2014-2015 academic year tracking the results of how those practices resulted in improved student learning.   

Our theme Backwards by Design reflects the belief that “teaching is a means to an end. Having a clear goal helps us as educators focus our planning and guide purposeful action…” (Wiggins and McTighe). We envision where we want to end up and work backwards on how to get there.

Program Outcomes:

  • Create or transform a course through the integration of a service-learning and/or writing component;
  • Gain best practices for teaching and learning;
  • Form partnerships and supportive teaching and learning networks;
  • Apply the “Backwards by Design” model to course planning;
  • Learn how to prepare a course portfolio to document and enhance your learning results;
  • Reflect, relax, and recharge through this interactive retreat, which will include dialogue, presentations, demonstrations, reflection, and time to work on your own course materials.

Program Commitments:

  • Attend a 3-day working retreat at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes; sessions will be Tuesday, August 26th from 9:45am through Thursday, August 28th at 4:00pm.
  • For additional stipend: submit a brief survey within one week of the retreat and a two-page write-up tracking results of the retreat on student learning within the 2014-2015 academic year.

Agenda of Topics:

  • Day 1 - Design: Course portfolio and reflection, disciplinary concepts, course syllabus, evaluation schemes.
  • Day 2 - Enactment: Course portfolio and reflection, creating assignments, building partnerships, engaging practices, disciplinary concepts, course syllabus, evaluation schemes.
  • Day 3 - Results: Course portfolio and reflection, learning activities, Work samples.

Space is limited, so if you’re interested in the writing track, please pre-register pronto by emailing  For more details, contact WIS director Carmen Werder, who will facilitate the workshop,, x7329.

Writing Faculty in the Learning Commons

Want to support your students doing researched-based writing?  Consider scheduling office hours in the Library’s new Learning Commons so you can be on hand to guide and talk about their research while they’re doing it.  To schedule a special Writing Instruction Support space in Wilson Library 265 just for you, send an email to


Check back here often for more information.