Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Kevin E. DePew

Committee Member

Timothy Bostic

Committee Member

Louise W. Phelps


Research and scholarship in the field of second-language writing have suggested that English as second language students (ESLs) require different modes of instruction than their native English speaking peers within the composition classroom (Matsuda, 1996; Silva, 1994). Yet ESL students are commonly marginalized in institutions' writing programs due to several commonplace beliefs shared by administrators that ESL students can be taught according to the same standards as mainstream students. Therefore, writing program administrators and instructors often do not have specific knowledge of ESL writing issues and, thus, do not know how to pedagogically accommodate these students or design a program that facilitates their unique learning needs. If WPAs, however, decide to redesign an institution's writing program to create an ESL-friendly environment, they are faced with many obstacles which they must navigate, such as determining which types of composition courses are most appropriate to offer these students, obtaining the resources and funds to do so, and more importantly, making the argument that the writing program does in fact need to be reinvented in order to accommodate ESL students.

To model how WPAs can go about negotiating these challenges, this project presents four case studies and analyzes how WPAs who run ESL writing programs presently view the issue of second-language writing, how they have reinvented their writing programs to meet the needs of ESL students, and how they have applied certain concepts, such as Porter, Sullivan, Blythe, Grabrill and Miles' (2000) institutional critique and Louise Phelps' (2002) institutional invention, to the creation of these programs. Likewise, two of the case studies yielded surveys results from ESL students which described the students' perceptions and experiences in the first-year composition courses of these writing programs. Based upon these case studies, I suggest that WPAs examine their situation to devise new strategies and practices for better meeting the changing student population's needs. In addition, I urge WPAs to invent a way to offer continuous educational and developmental opportunities for faculty on this subject and recognize that the construction of relationships beyond the realm of the writing program is a critical component for redesigning a writing program with ESL students in mind.


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