Why writing matters in the digital age

Dean Paula Smith available for comment

Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 2:24 am

With the explosion of online channels like Twitter and text messaging, written communication has become more immediate and, in many cases, abbreviated. Despite this trend, there is still a vital need for people in all fields to know how to write well.

Grinnell takes an encompassing approach to the teaching of writing. The College stands apart from many similar institutions in requiring every tenure-track professor – including mathematicians, sculptors and chemists – to teach writing as part of a first-year tutorial.

A pervasive writing orientation is also part of virtually every Grinnell course. For example, economics students write and submit for publication op-ed articles on timely topics. And calculus students express how theorems work via short essays.

This focus on writing produces graduates who are capable of clearly expressing themselves through the written word. In fact, in a survey of graduating seniors over the past five years, the ability to write effectively was cited as one of the most important skills learned at Grinnell, with 67.6% of those reporting that Grinnell ‘greatly’ contributed to this expertise (second only to the ability to develop critical thinking skills).

Paula Smith, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, can speak about the importance of writing skills, at Grinnell and beyond. She recently published a feature in Inside Higher Ed.

Contact Communication at 641-269-3404 to arrange an interview with Dean Paula Smith.