The Mounger Writing Center
The Mounger Writing Center is located on the second floor of Jefferson Hall (NE Wing). During regular academic semesters, the MWC is open to all Cadets for one-on-one sessions Monday through Friday afternoons (1300-1600) and Sunday through Thursday evenings (1930-2200). New for AY18: faculty and staff may also schedule appointments, availability-permitting, every afternoon. All regular sessions begin on the hour and last up to forty-five minutes; appointments are strongly encouraged, though drop-ins are also welcome (especially from 1930-2000, when priority is accorded to walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis). We also hold 'Wednesday Night Workshops' on a variety of writing topics and sponsor other special events. Click here for the most up-to-date information, including a list of workshops
Consultants at the MWC help Cadets with assignments for any academic course: anything from essays, responses, and research papers to technical or lab reports, abstracts, manuals, and posters, even oral presentations or PowerPoints. Cadets can also make appointments to discuss writing for personal interests or professional opportunities.
What should I expect from Cadets I teach who visit the MWC? What is the Center's purpose?
The MWC's purpose is to help Cadets grow as thinkers and writers over the longterm. This means that we don't try to send Cadets away with perfect papers. That's just not possible, even in the most ideal of scenarios, and besides we're not subject-matter experts (that's you, of course).
Instead, we focus on the specific papers or assignments as opportunities to get at bigger lessons. Growing as a writer is a gradual, often uneven process. All writers end up experimenting with different techniques and habits as they take on ever more complex challenges. So a large part of what we do involves raising awareness among Cadets about different writing standards and expectations, as well as equipping them with different options for writing and thinking effectively, so that they can judge what works best for them. All sessions at the MWC are dialogue-based: Writing Fellows aim to help their fellow Cadets by talking through their ideas and concerns with them and sharing strategies to help them progress.
What should I NOT expect from the MWC? What should I avoid in describing it to my Cadets?
Avoid requiring any Cadet to visit the MWC; that would be a violation of USMA policy (as requiring a form of additional instruction). Also avoid incentivizing visits to the MWC by awarding points for sessions in quid pro quo fashion: we have limited numbers of appointments available, and encouraging Cadets to pursue them in exchange for points takes away sessions from Cadets who instrinically value what we do and want to be here.
With regard to expectations, it's worth repeating: don't expect perfect papers or uniform improvement from Cadets who visit us. We're not editors or proofreaders, and becoming a better writer takes time, even under the best of conditions.
Who works with Cadets at the MWC?
The MWC is staffed primarily by Cadet Writing Fellows, with some help from faculty in the Writing Program and, starting in 2017, contracted Graduate Writing Fellows. Cadets are selected as Writing Fellows on the basis of demonstrated promise as writers, teachers, and communicators; all of them undertake rigorous study of composition pedagogy. In fact, you're welcome to play a role in this process as one of the Writing Fellows Program's Faculty Mentors, about four hours of work over a semester.
How can I promote the MWC to my Cadets? What if I'm teaching a course linked to the Writing Program?
Characterize the MWC as resource for all Cadets, not just ones who are struggling in your course. Everyone can benefit from the focused conversations we facilitate. You can also familiarize your Cadets with the MWC by taking 2-3 minutes of class time to have them register as users on our scheduling website, showing them this webpage, or by coordinating with us to schedule a five-minute informational briefing for your sections.
If you're teaching a course linked to the Writing Program, include the appropriate information from this document in your syllabus: WPWP Syllabi Inserts.docx. If you're teaching a course that isn't linked to the WPWP and just want Cadets to be aware of the MWC as a resource, include some version of the following language:
Becoming a thoughtful, skilled communicator is essential to your development: officers of every rank, and professionals in any field, must express themselves clearly, insightfully, and effectively. To this end, the Mounger Writing Center (MWC) is an important resource for you to consider. Located on the second floor of Jefferson Hall, the MWC is open to all Cadets for one-on-one sessions concerning virtually any kind of writing. All sessions are facilitated by Cadet Writing Fellows or other experts; they begin on the hour and last up to forty-five minutes. While appointments are strongly encouraged, drop-ins are welcome (pending availability). Bring in assignments for any academic course: anything from essays, responses, and research papers to technical or lab reports, abstracts, manuals, and posters, even oral presentations or PowerPoints. The MWC also holds group workshops - usually on Wednesday nights - and other special events. For more information, head to www.usma.edu/wpwp (click on "Writing Center"); to schedule appointments, head to usma.mywconline.com. All sessions with the MWC must be cited according to guidance in the DAW.
Do I get any feedback if one of my Cadets visits the MWC?
Probably you'll get a 'client report' emailed to you by the Writing Fellow who works with your Cadet. (Every Cadet who comes in to the MWC is given the option of having a report about their session sent to his or her instructor.) You should also see an entry in the 'Works Cited' section of your Cadet's final product, since all Cadets are required to cite sessions with us according to the guidelines governing 'Additional Instruction' described in the DAW.