Rhetorical context refers to the circumstances surrounding any writing situation and includes purpose, audience, and focus.
Think of a particularly troublesome writing assignment you've faced. You might have had trouble even knowing how to begin. Similarly, you may have heard students complain that they "don't know what to write." Such struggles frequently arise because the writer has not identified the assignment's rhetorical context. One of our jobs as instructors is to provide students with information that will help them identify an assignment's rhetorical context.
The following links will give you a better understanding of rhetorical context and help you to incorporate that understanding into your writing instruction.