Teaching Writing in the First Year

Dartmouth's Institute for Writing and Rhetoric believes that writing and speech are at the center of our students' intellectual experiences.  In this spirit, our first-year writing courses are designed to welcome students into the ongoing conversation of scholarship.  These courses - which include Writing 2-3, Writing 5, and the First-Year Seminar - provide Dartmouth students an environment where they can practice the reading, thinking, writing, and speaking that will shape their intellectual lives.

Teaching Goals

Our goals for our students include the following:

  • Deepening their critical reading and thinking skills
  • Teaching them how to contemplate and then to compose good scholarly questions
  • Helping them find, evaluate, and employ the resources that can help answer these questions
  • Guiding them as they craft thoughtful, clear, and well-supported arguments
  • Encouraging them to revise by re-engaging with their questions, and re-envisioning their arguments

We further hope that our courses encourage students to develop the rhetorical flexibility that will enable them to address the challenges of writing in a variety of situations, with a variety of modes, and in a variety of disciplines. 

Methodology and Course Design

Instructors who have not taught writing before will want to know more about how they can design courses that will achieve these aims. They will also want to know more about what methods are commonly and effectively employed.  We offer here a brief introduction to the principles and practices of our first-year courses. Instructors can look forward to hearing more about these methods and philosophies in the Institute's ongoing professional development workshops.  They will also discover the value of being part of a corps of experienced and informed colleagues, who are always delighted to engage in conversations about teaching.

You can begin your exploration of our materials here: 

If you'd like to confer about any aspect of your teaching, do not hesitate to contact Christiane Donahue, Director of the Institute for Writing & Rhetoric.