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Adult Basic Education (GED, ESL, Cover Letters, Résumés)

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This page offers some information on the Community Writing and Education Station (CWEST), the Purdue OWL's area for adult basic education. To go to the CWEST and use its resources, click here and select the CWEST link in the navigation bar on the left or the CWEST link in the body text under Engagement Projects.


The CWEST (pronounced "quest") is a sustainable, collaborative civic engagement literacy project that will produce two Ph.D. dissertations. Literacy materials are being developed in close cooperation between the Purdue University Writing Lab, the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy (LARA), a local adult basic education program, and the WorkOne Express office located at LARA. WorkOne is a state-run employment program in Indiana. The CWEST resources are hosted in the new Engagement area of the Purdue OWL. Currently, the CWEST contains the following material focused on adult basic education and working class employment documents:

The CWEST project is an important step in civic engagement for the Purdue Writing Lab because it’s sustainable and participatory. To encourage sustainability, CWEST work has been integrated into the Purdue OWL mission. To foster participatory design, CWEST work is developed with LARA/WorkOne, and this work integrates empirical research. Some primary research questions for CWEST are: 1) How can the Purdue Writing Lab/OWL form a sustained, participatory relationship with LARA/WorkOne? 2) What are the outcomes of this partnership?

Purpose and Goals

The purpose of the CWEST project is to integrate sustained cooperation between the Writing Lab and greater Lafayette as an integral part of the OWL’s mission to foster literacy. Our major goals are as follows:

  • Integrate local civic engagement as part of the OWL’s mission
  • Investigate local civic engagement, public discourse, and English studies
  • Communicate with LARA/WorkOne to understand their needs and work collaboratively to address those needs, as well as measure outcomes using empirical methods
  • Develop resources that will benefit local literacy as well as the OWL’s global audience.


Adult literacy users benefit from the CWEST because LARA/WorkOne learners and teachers develop educational materials collaboratively with Purdue literacy scholars. These resources help adult literacy users become more active members of a critical democracy through processes of engagement and empowerment: GED qualification, ESL mastery, workplace and job search document literacy. Adult literacy users worldwide may also benefit from CWEST materials through the Purdue OWL's global reach.

Purdue benefits from the CWEST because the project strengthens educational relationships between the land grant state university and the local population. Because the CWEST works in collaboration with greater Lafayette, the resources developed may form a more equal relationship between users and Purdue. Specific benefits to the English Department include work across a number of disciplines—rhetoric-composition, professional writing, public rhetorics, ESL, literature, etc.


To date, we have received generous research and engagement funding from Purdue University. The project has received support from the following organizations:

The CWEST project has also been awarded a 2009-2010 Purdue Research Foundation Grant for dissertation work.


The CWEST will develop over a three and a half year time span (2007 – 2010), separated into three stages: 1) GED preparation material; 2) ESL skills material; 3) Workplace and job search document material.

How is CWEST Different from Traditional Service Learning and Outreach? Theory + Research + Practice = Praxis.


We are expanding our theoretical base to include more discursive rhetorics (Isocrates, Dewey, Asen). This theoretical shift is important because we posit that limitations associated with traditional service learning (Herzberg, 1994; Shutz and Gere, 1998; Scott, 2004) are linked to less flexible, less discursive approaches.


The CWEST research is informed by the critical, situated, and empirical methodologies outlined in Opening Spaces by Patricia Sullivan and James Porter. We will integrate user feedback into the CWEST Web area and literacy resources to better tailor them through iterative design methods.


CWEST is sustainable and participatory, informed by Jeffrey Grabill, Michele Simmons, and Pelle Ehn. The graphic below illustrates the participatory relationship fostered by CWEST work:

This Venn diagram illustrates the overlapping nature of the different stakeholders involved in the CWEST (quest) project. CWEST (quest) work forms the center of the diagram in a sphere while the stakeholders' spheres overlap one another as they overlap the CWEST (quest) work.

CWEST Venn Diagram

To go to the CWEST area of the OWL, click here and select the CWEST link in the navigation bar on the left or the CWEST link in the body text under Engagement Projects.

For more information on the CWEST, please contact the Purdue OWL Coordinator here.