Thompson Writing Program (TWP) DukeWrites Enrichment Suite for International Students (ESIS)

Guest post by Rene Caputo, Fellow and ESL Specialist, TWP, and Denise Comer, Director of First-year Writing, TWP

Duke’s incoming undergraduate class is comprised of around 10% international students. According to Dean Guttentag in “Duke Students: Who Are They?”, this international presence has grown considerably: in 2000 there were 60 incoming international undergraduates, and in 2010 there 155 international undergraduates joined Duke. A recent Chronicle article notes that the Class of 2018 has 183 international students. This growing internationalism is also evident in Duke in Kunshan (DKU), which will welcome approximately 50% mainland Chinese students and 50% international students. Some Duke students born in the United States also have the privilege of growing up in multilingual andmulticulturalenvironments. Together, these developments suggest that Duke students can enjoy more of a global education that embraces a multitude of diverse perspectives and experiences.

In response to this increasing (and very much welcome) diversification and globalization, the Thompson Writing Program (TWP) has launched a new online resource (available on Sakai): the DukeWrites Enrichment Suite for International Students (ESIS).

DukeWrites Enrichment Suite landing screen

Funded by a Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) JumpStart Grant, ESIS consists of an online suite of videos and quiz tutorials for international, multilingual, and multicultural students.

Students can explore the ESIS learning modules to strengthen their knowledge about U.S. classroom participation strategies and academic writing practices in U.S. English. Videos and tutorials include such topics as: academic integrity, essay structure, citation practices, sentence structure, and more. ESIS also includes forums for participants to engage in cross-cultural exchanges about writing and learning. We encourage all Duke students to join in these conversations and enrich their thinking about writing with global perspectives. Although primarily geared toward undergraduates, we also think ESIS would provide a valuable resource for graduate students.


Geographic and cultural contexts are deeply connected to conventions and expectations surrounding academic writing, academic integrity, and class participation. Our aim in the TWP is to empower all writers to contribute their ideas to ongoing conversations and have the opportunity to advance knowledge. Part of this endeavor involves supporting those who are newer to the context of U.S. academic writing, academic integrity, and class participation practices.

Research in multicultural language acquisition, as with all language and writing learning, emphasizes that the learning process is iterative and extended. We wanted to develop a site tailored specifically to Duke contexts. We also wanted to provide Duke writers with the ability to tailor the suite to their own needs, completing the modules most relevant to them, and having the flexibility to return to the suite again and again across their Duke experiences.


Developing the suite required assembling a team with expertise in English Language Learning and multiculturalism, online pedagogy, and educational technologies.

As ESIS co-leaders, we each brought expertise to the project—Denise with online pedagogy and Rene with multicultural language pedagogy—and we were each able to learn and grow through our collaboration. Content developers included Rene, Margaret Swezey, TWP Writing Studio Assistant Director, and Beth Long, a TWP Writing Studio Tutor. TWP Writing Studio Tutor Kelly Goyette edited videos and collaborated with us to design the project website. ESIS further benefitted from ongoing consultations with Vicki Russell from the TWP, Randy Riddle from CIT, and Mich Donovan from the Office of Information Technology. Key partners also included International House, Student Affairs, and Pre-Major Academic Advising. We also appreciated the ongoing support of Kristen Neuschel, Director of the TWP, and Lee Baker, Dean of Academic Affairs of Trinity College.

Suite development included prioritizing module topics, recording and editing interactive video lectures, creating interactive quizzes, curating resources, and designing the project website. We deliberated about the optimal platform and ultimately chose Sakai because of its Lesson feature.

ESIS is part of a growing array of resources the TWP provides to support international students, from one-on-one tutoring in the Writing Studio to other resources such as the following:

During the 2014-15 year, we will be gathering feedback from ESIS users and website usage data, as well as conducting continued focus groups with international students and faculty. We plan to continue development of the suite by adding new modules and, where necessary, expanding or refining current modules.

Access ESIS by following these easy steps:

1. Go to
2. Click “Workspace,” then “Membership”
3. Click the “Joinable Sites” tab
4. Search for “DukeWrites Enrichment” in the search box
5. Then follow the instructions to join the site
6. Once you’ve joined, ESIS will appear under Projects on your main Sakai page