Many instructors wonder what capabilities their students will bring with them to the Writing 2-3 classroom. Writing 2-3 has an especially diverse population who bring with them an array of writing abilities and writing challenges.
2-3 students are bright students who, for one reason or another, find that they are under-prepared for the writing that they will have to do at Dartmouth. Some 2-3 students are more interested in math or science than they are in writing and come to the course feeling that writing is something they're "just not good at." Still others come from high schools with weak writing programs. Some have little experience writing academic papers; some have never done research. Some are multilingual students who feel that they can't comfortably express their complex ideas in English. Others rely on simple structures—like the five-paragraph theme—that won't be sufficient for success at Dartmouth. Several can express themselves very well in narratives or informal writing but are daunted by the demands of academic prose.
It's also worth noting that the Writing 2-3 population is typically three to four times more diverse than the typical Dartmouth classroom. While this diversity makes for an especially rewarding classroom experience, it also creates challenges for the instructor, who needs to take difference into account. In Writing 2-3, you will be challenged to find a way to teach students the practices of the academy while respecting the values and experiences that they bring with them.
Finally, because every student who takes Writing 2-3 has elected to do so, you can expect that your students will be committed to the work of the course. By and large, 2-3 students are "game": they are willing to work hard, and they are eager to see improvement in their writing. And they do improve - some quite remarkably. Indeed, Writing 2-3 counts among its alums a Valedictorian, a Salutatorian, Phi Beta Kappas, and Presidential Scholars. Expect that your students can meet the rigorous challenges you place before them.
As in the other first-year writing courses, teaching writing will not depend simply on assigning writing—though writing will be assigned, and often. Instructors will frequently conduct writing workshops, confer regularly with students about their writing, provide careful and thoughtful feedback, and make good use of the collaborative learning and active learning ideas described throughout this website. For a more thorough description of the program's expectations, please see Writing 2-3: Guidelines for Faculty. We hope that you will especially note the following:
Students come to Writing 2-3 with equal parts enthusiasm and anxiety. As noted above, every student enrolled in 2-3 has elected to be there, and they expect to work hard on their writing. In turn, students have expectations of you.
Every instructor teaching Writing 2-3 has a Teaching Assistant. Because they meet with students individually for an hour each week, the TAs are often the first to diagnose problems in student writing. They are also in a good position to give the students the individual attention that they need. To help you make the most of your TA, the Writing Program has compiled The TA Operator's Manual (doc), which you can download here.
If you have questions about teaching Writing 2-3, please contact Karen Gocsik, Director of Writing 2-3 and Executive Director of the Writing Program, or Christiane Donahue, Director of the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric.
If you are looking for materials to share with your students, please consider these. We've developed them with Dartmouth students in mind.
Last Updated: 12/3/12