College Writing Requirement

Within their first two years, all matriculated students must complete a First Year Seminar and at least one other writing-intensive class (all classes marked "CW" in the catalog are writing-intensive and will satisfy this requirement). All academic departments participate in the College Writing Program, offering "writing intensive" courses within the major and in the First-Year Seminar Program.

The Program for Writing and Rhetoric in the Disciplines promotes the use of writing both in students' learning and in their ability to communicate what they have learned.

Our writing courses focus on critical and creative thinking, conventions of academic discourse, and persuasive argumentation. Through writing, students learn to use the methods of inquiry and the specialized forms and styles appropriate to the major disciplines. Our Writing Center is open to all Middlebury students.


Upcoming Event

Nominations for class of 2018 Ward Prize


Guidelines for Writing Intensive Courses

Writing is not simply "assigned" in writing intensive courses.  Instead, conversation about writing and required revision helps students develop both their understanding of writing as a process and their analytical and persuasive powers. In many courses, students are encouraged to use writing to learn. Because learning, like writing, is a constant process of collecting, connecting, discarding and reorganizing, instructors use writing to encourage students to think through new or difficult ideas.

Instructors of writing intensive courses frequently employ both informal and formal writing assignments.  Informal writing might  be graded or ungraded and might  include journals, diaries, field notes, responses to discussion questions, and/or free writing.  Informal writing might be used as a way to begin a formal paper, as a means to generate good class discussion, or as an end in itself.  Formal writing assignments are usually graded, and might include critical, creative or researched papers, or might combine formal writing strategies, like outlining, with an oral presentation.  The formal writing done in these courses typically averages 20-25 pages, although the number of papers and the number of pages per paper vary from course to course.  In some courses, formal writing is submitted for assessment in a portfolio once or twice during the semester.

Faculty seeking conversation about the teaching of writing can contact anyone in the Writing Program. We have a multitude of resources to share.