Writing Program

The Writing Program inspires critical and creative thinking about language, story, argument and intercultural communication. Our courses privilege a student-centered workshop approach that is inquiry-based.  

Beyond our own courses, the program oversees and supports second level writing-intensive courses (CW) offered within the disciplines. We also engage with any faculty interested in conversations about writing and the teaching of writing. In collaboration with the CTLR and other offices and programs, the Writing Program hosts a variety of events for faculty that pertain to writing pedagogy and to issues of difference and community in education.

A vital component of the Writing Program is the Writing Center and its hubs. Here, we find Peer Writing Tutors working with students across the curriculum on their writing. In addition, Writing Program faculty and professional staff offer one on one tutorials in critical thinking and writing for all students.  

How do I structure a college essay?

Most college papers need a thesis that argues a point that can be proven or demonstrated with evidence in the paper. Use this worksheet to help see if  the paper has the points, evidence, and analysis to prove the thesis: Structure of an Essay.


Making appointments with Writing Faculty

<p>To Meet with Writing Program Faculty</p>To Meet With Writing Program Faculty and staff, you'll want to plan ahead when possible and schedule appointments with us via our computer based scheduling system, AccuTrack. The student workers or faculty or staff in the Center for Teaching, Learning and Research (CTLR) can show you how to do this, or you can use the online link at the Writing Center website Scheduling usually happens a few days in advance, but sometimes students find last minute openings. Some students schedule weeks ahead to ensure that they get the help they need on a particular paper.

If we have no openings in AccuTrack that fit your schedule, feel free to email Jennifer Bates(jbates@middlebury.edu) or Mary Ellen Bertolini (mbertoli@middlebury.edu), or  Catharine Wright (cwwright@middlebury.edu) (Catharine Wright is available W15 & S15 only), to inquire about alternate times. Sometimes we can create alternate times and/or accommodate last minute requests. You may try one or all of us.

It is very acceptable to meet with two different tutors, at different stages in the writing process, on the same paper (professional then peer, peer then peer, peer then professional).

If we are unable to meet with you on a particular paper due to scheduling/time constraints, we urge you to work with a Peer Writing Tutor during their drop-in hours in the CTLR from 7:30 p.m.- midnight, Sunday-Thursday evenings. Peer Writing Tutors, also, hold drop-in hours in all five Commons. Find the most current the hours and locations here.


Sessions with peer writing tutors  usually run about 30 minutes per student.

Midterm Evaluation

1) What is your overall impression of this class so far?
2) What aspects of this class work (especially) well for you?
3) What does not work so well?
4) On a scale from 1-5 (with 5 being the highest), how
would you rank:

a) the amount of what you have learned so far
b) how you feel integrated into the class/ opportunities 
to contribute
c) clearness of instructor's explanations
d) effectiveness of teaching/ learning
e) the relevance/ interest in our discussions
f) how much you enjoy being in this class

5) Writing: Do you feel that the writing assignments are
6) Does the variety of assignment (types) work for you?
7) Have you learned something about writing so far? What
do you consider most beneficial? Least? Are there types
of writing or special needs that this class should address
and train more or altogether?
8) Do you get enough and clear feedback?
9) How do you evaluate your instructor's availability and 
effectiveness in helping you?
10) Other comments:

Midterm Portfolio Checklist


• Three polished essays plus a sampling of early and
middle drafts (preferably including editors' comments) for
each. Be sure each essay is titled and that you number
your pages. For the researched essay, include copies of
sources from which your have paraphrased.
• One cover statement (2 paragraphs at most) in which you
briefly describe both the strengths of the writing in your 
portfolio and what still needs work. End the statement by
suggesting an agenda for your development as a writer
for the remaining weeks of the semester.

Grading Criteria


Use of vivid details
• Use details beyond just the visual.
• Show rather than tell.
• Some details should provide background; some should
point us toward the significance of your
• Bonus: Push a cluster of details to a metaphor, which
controls a portion of your essay.


• Strategies for focusing your reader in the significance of
your place should be included in your title, your 
introductory paragraph, your concluding paragraph, your
use of significant details, your use of imagery, and your
reflective sentences.


• Use vivid, working verbs.
• Vary your sentence types and lengths.
• Be concise.
• Punctuate accurately.
• Proofread for spelling.


Use of detail (in addition to criteria for Place Essay)

• Use quotations from the text to illustrate your arguments.
Cite line or page numbers. Indent quotations when
appropriate (over 5 lines or 50 words).

Focus (in addition to criteria for Place Essay)

• Your introduction should end with a thesis statement.
• Each paragraph should make one point toward developing
your thesis


• Be sure your argument builds step by step toward your 
planned ending, without anticlimaxes or irrelevant

Sentences (in addition to criteria for Place Essay)

•  Be careful to integrate quoted material into your
sentences smoothly.


Use of Detail (in addition to criteria for Place and Setting Essays)

• Use quotations, paraphrases and summaries from
sources to support your arguments. Cite your sources
both in the text of your essay and in a "Works Consulted"
page at the end using MLA style.

Focus (in addition to criteria for Place and Setting Essays)

• Use your introduction to contextualize your topic and to
focus your readers' attention on its significance.
• Your introduction should end with a thesis statement.
• Each paragraph should make one point toward developing
your thesis.

Flow (in addition to criteria for Place and Setting Essays)

• Use transition strategies to keep your readers with you
throughout the argument.
• Be sure your argument builds step by step toward your
planned ending, without anticlimaxes or irrelevant

Sentences (in addition to criteria for Place and Setting

• Choose your words carefully. Aim at concise, precise
• Be careful to integrate quoted or paraphrased material
into your paragraphs smoothly.

Grading Criteria for Midterm Portfolio

Adapted from Donald M. Murray, Learning by Teaching


Is there an abundance of information?
Is it specific? Is it accurate? Is it honest?  
Is it used effectively to develop and document what the writer has to say?


Has the writer found his or her subject?
Has the writer made the subject worth reading about?
Is the writing focused on the subject?
Is the subject limited - developed and completed?
Are the reader's questions answered?
Does the piece have a meaning?


Is the writing ordered?
Are the reader's questions answered when they are asked?
Are the title and opening honest? Engaging?
Do they lead the reader towards the subject?
Is each point documented?
Does the ending work to bring the piece to a satisfying conclusion?


Does the writer have a strong voice?
Is it appropriate, consistent, and effective?
Does the writer get out of the way of the information being delivered?
Does the writer use language honestly?
Is the writer's meaning clear?
Does the writer use the simplest language appropriate to the subject and the audience?
Does the writer break the conventions of usage, mechanics, and spelling only to clarify meaning?

The Paul W. Ward '25 Memorial Prize


Ward Prize Certificate



The Paul W. Ward '25 Memorial Prize competition recognizes annually those first-year students who are judged by the faculty to have produced outstanding essays in writing classes during that academic year.

The prize was established in 1978 by Paul W. Ward's widow, Dorothy Cate Ward '28, their daughter Marren Ward Meehan '62, and their son-in-law Tom Meehan '62. In her letter to the College Mrs. Ward wrote:

"This prize is offered in memory of Paul W. Ward, whose life-long career as a journalist and diplomatic reporter bought him both the Pulitzer Prize and the French Legion of Honor. During his long career he emphasized the use of basic English as a writer's most necessary tool. Precise and exact usage of words, exact meanings, phrases expressed lucidly and gracefully, seemed to him the most direct and understandable means of communicating with his readers. We, his family, hope these beliefs and standards will furnish the criteria on which this prize will be judged."

And so they have, every year, since 1978.