Writing 2-3 Course Outcomes

MISSION. This two-term writing course is designed to help Dartmouth's underprepared writers achieve excellence in interpreting and composing arguments through serious intellectual engagement and intensive academic support. By committing themselves to the rigorous process of reading, writing, discussing, researching, conferring, and rewriting, students learn to craft clear and compelling academic arguments. They also engage in focused and sustained research that culminates in a project of the student's design.

METHODS. Writing 2-3 prepares students for their academic work by requiring students to engage in activities that are essential to academic endeavors across the disciplines. These activities include: inquiry, interpretation, contextualization, construction, revision, assessment, and collaboration.

SCOPE. Writing 2-3 builds on the understanding that the demands of literacy in the 21st century are changing. Arguments are composed not only with words but also with images; not only in books and articles but also in webpages, PowerPoints, and wikis. Accordingly, the activities of "reading" and "research" in Writing 2-3 include various media, while "composing" refers not only to papers but to oral presentations and digital compositions as well.


Students should understand the work of the first-year writing class—reading, research, critical thinking, public speaking, discussion, and composing—as part of a larger process of inquiry. They should seek, in all their endeavors, to formulate sufficiently nuanced questions as the foundation of their academic work.

Students will demonstrate the ability to:

READING: Read actively, interrogating texts in order to test the author's claims.

RESEARCH: Generate research questions that allow them to manage their topic, but that are also open-ended enough to require authentic inquiry.

CRITICAL THINKING: Craft questions that are complex, qualified, nuanced; transform these questions into hypotheses that can be further questioned and tested.

COMPOSING: Understand writing and speaking as a process of inquiry and discovery; compose work that is driven by inquiry rather than by summary or illustration.


Students should be able to interpret the texts that they read and write, demonstrating the ability to analyze (break a text into parts) and synthesize (establish connections between texts and their parts) in order to craft rich interpretations.

Students will demonstrate the ability to: 

READING: Identify arguments and the elements of argument (fact, claim, opinion, evidence) in the texts they read; determine how a text's argument is constructed and for what purposes.

CRITICAL THINKING: Reason through an argument deductively and inductively, thinking across examples and concepts, and moving between the specific and the general.

RESEARCH: Locate source materials that enable them to more fully interpret primary texts and topics; analyze these materials to assess their relevance, usefulness, and credibility; synthesize these materials in order to discover the "big picture" of the larger, ongoing argument.

COMPOSING: Craft essays and presentations that make an interpretive claim; synthesize textual evidence in order to support that claim.


Students should understand that reading, research, and composing occur in the context of larger ongoing academic and cultural conversations. They should also understand context as helping them to make choices as readers, researchers, and writers.

Students will demonstrate the ability to: 

READING: Determine a text's context—i.e., how that text both draws from larger academic and cultural conversations and contributes to them; read as writers—strategically, in the context of their own rhetorical purposes.

RESEARCH: Undertake research that will further illuminate the course's primary texts and their contexts; correctly cite their sources as a way of contextualizing their own work.

COMPOSING: Understand that texts occur in the contexts of different disciplines, genres, and media; structure their arguments based on this understanding; frame these arguments with introductions that appropriately and engagingly contextualize their work.


Students should be able to construct, using a variety of media, arguments that are informed, persuasive, and engaging. They should understand the various structural elements that together constitute an effective academic argument, including the thesis, topic sentences, evidence, and transitions.

Students will demonstrate the ability to: 

RESEARCH: Construct texts that serve the research process (for instance, summaries, syntheses, research proposals, annotated bibliographies).

COMPOSING: Construct thesis-driven arguments; employ alternatives when appropriate (such as a thesis question or an implied thesis); develop sound strategies to cogently structure their arguments; employ conventions (of logic, paragraphs, syntax, and formatting) that anticipate their readers' expectations and reactions.


Students will come to see that good writing requires re-writing, that writing and revising are not linear but simultaneous processes, and that writers re-think and re-shape their work even as they create it as a way of making ideas clearer not only to themselves, but to their audience.

Students will demonstrate the ability to: 

READING & RESEARCH: Understand that revision requires a re-investigation of primary texts and secondary sources, in order to clarify or to expand upon ideas.

COMPOSING: Recognize the incompleteness of their first drafts; determine and implement strategies that will move these drafts forward; understand the difference between substantive revision and surface editing; practice both; ensure that their work is correct in terms of register, grammar, mechanics, and formatting; revise with a sense of audience guiding their decisions; consider and incorporate the feedback they receive from their professor, TA, and peers.


Students participate in a guided process of peer and self-assessment with the aim of learning to evaluate autonomously the strengths and weaknesses of their work.

Students will demonstrate the ability to: 

COMPOSING: Assess their classmates' work in order to provide useful commentary on matters ranging from content, to structure, to evidence, to grammar and style; assess their own work in order to locate strengths and weaknesses, and to develop a plan for revision.

OVERALL: Understand and perhaps co-determine the criteria for evaluation used in the class; continually assess themselves as thinkers, readers, writers, and speakers; continually assess their contribution to the class, including class discussion and their work with their peers; continually assess themselves as students, considering in particular their commitment to and responsibility in meeting the course goals and managing their time.


Students will engage in collaborative work in Writing 2-3, including class discussion, conferring with the TA, collaborative research projects, collaborative writing projects, collaborative presentations, collaborative conferences, and collaborative peer response. These collaborations aim not only to give students practice in working together on a task, but also to bring them to articulate new understandings of the reading, research, and composing processes that they can then apply to their individual work.

Students will demonstrate the ability to:

DISCUSSIONS & CONFERRING: Understand discussions and conferences as collaborative; participate in these collaborations and take responsibility for engaging actively and respectfully; understand class discussion and conferences as part of an ongoing scholarly conversation; make contributions that are contextually relevant and academically appropriate.

PEER COLLABORATIONS: Be responsible to the collaborative process by taking on a fair share of the work; use collaborations as an opportunity to raise questions about the research, composing, and presentation processes; illuminate these processes via conversations with their peers.


Through their work in Writing 2-3, students will demonstrate that they are confident, productive, and capable contributors to the academic community.