English faculty

Barbara L. Turnwall, M.A.

Instructor in English

M.A., State University of New York, Albany
B.A., Hope College



Professor Turnwall has been teaching English at Northwestern College since 1966 and specializes in teaching writing classes. Besides chairing numerous faculty committees and serving on the Iowa Writing Project Steering Committee, she has chaired the English Department nine years during her tenure. For her professional contributions the Iowa Council of Teachers of English honored her with its 2009 Distinguished Service Award.

For more than 20 years, Turnwall has been active as an instructor, site director and steering committee member of the Iowa Writing Project (IWP). Her contributions to IWP led to her receiving the organization’s Star Thrower Award in 2008. Founded in the late ’70s, the IWP has provided professional growth opportunities for more than 8,500 Iowa teachers, including—under Turnwall’s leadership—78 members of Northwestern’s faculty. In 1999 Turnwall was the college teacher chosen to receive the Iowa Council of Teachers of English Literacy Award for contributions to language development and literacy learning in the state of Iowa.


  • College Writing

    College Writing

    (4 credits) An introduction to academic writing, emphasizing the writing process. Students learn strategies for pre-writing, drafting, and revising of expository essays. The course includes analysis of model essays and discussion of model essays and an introduction to research-based writing.
  • Writing in the Professions

    Writing in the Professions

    (2 credits) A study of professional writing. In a writing workshop setting, students will learn to adjust style, tone and content to accomplish a definite purpose with an identified audience. They will also learn strategies for creating texts that are clear, concise and accurate. The course is especially useful for those whose career goals require facility in written communication, such as those studying marketing, public relations, advertising, management or law. All students will choose a professional to be their mentor on a writing project related to the career they are interested in. Students will also build a small portfolio of professional writing that includes letters, a memo, a resume and a research report. Prerequisite: sophomore class standing.
  • The Art of the Essay

    The Art of the Essay

    (2 credits) A study of some of the best contemporary American non-fiction writing on such subjects as politics, the arts, religion, natural science and medicine. Students write on similar topics and develop their own style by emulating such models. Prerequisites: sophomore class standing or permission of instructor.
  • The Rhetoric of Persuasion

    The Rhetoric of Persuasion

    (4 credits) A study of the methods of persuasion: logical and emotional appeals and trustworthiness, ways of structuring arguments, and persuasive style. Students will learn to create and critique arguments on a variety of subjects. Prerequisites: sophomore class standing or permission of instructor.
  • Special Topics in Writing

    Special Topics in Writing

    (2-4 credits) Specific subject matter of this course will vary from semester to semester, but will always focus on an issue in composition studies or a genre of writing. Courses will include both readings and student writing within the genre and will be designed to welcome both majors and non-majors. Prerequisite: ENG290 or ENG292 or permission of the instructor.


  • Turnwall's innovative Pedagogy Project, a collaboratation between IWP and Northwestern College, provides a year of professional development for a small group of Northwestern faculty who study,discuss, experiment with,and reflect on teaching methodology. The project has served 78 faculty since its beginning in 2001. For more information, you may access the following link to the National Writing Project website: http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/3077
  • In 2006, Turnwall initiated the Hispanic Story Project, another collaboration between IWP and Northwestern. The purpose of the project is to honor and preserve local Hispanic immigrant stories. A small group of trained teachers gather, write and translate the stories bilingually. The stories serve to bridge the two cultures, providing curriculum materials for ESL, English, Spanish, and human relations classes from elementary school to college. They have also been used for sensitivity training of teachers and for adult classes studying immigration. The recently updated stories are now available on the Iowa Writing Project website in English, Spanish, and bilingual versions.


  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • Iowa Council of Teachers of English
  • Iowa Writing Project Steering Committee
  • Delta Kappa Gamma International
  • University of Northern Iowa Adjunct Faculty


  • Iowa Council of Teachers of English 2009 Distinguished Service Award
  • Iowa Writing Project Star Thrower Award (2008)
  • Iowa Council of Teachers of English Literacy Award (1999)