CUNY COMPosition & Rhetoric Community

Writing Assessment Ideas and Rationale

Sean Molloy (24 Aug. 2014)

Here we present individual assignments and exercises that help students develop a final website portfolio of their composing and writing projects.  When considering a student’s body of work in a writing course, either for individual or programmatic assessments, Brian Huot (2002) argues for composition research techniques in assessment that can provide “thick descriptions of the kinds of writing instruction and performances that occur in our classrooms.”  Huot argues for categorizing “various kinds of writing instruction and student performances [and] giving detailed examples…”(152).  Huot believes that “it might be possible for assessment to provide the site for rich, descriptive examples of student writing and development.  In this way we can draw upon the theory in educational research that advocates a multimodal approach….[We must] collect different kinds of data and perform different sorts of analysis” (153).

Wardle and Roozen (2012) focus on “rhetorical development.” Their ecological model “understands an individual’s writing abilities as developing across an expansive network that links together a broad range of literate experiences over lengthy periods of time” including personal writing (108).  Citing ethnographic approaches that have considered student’s non-school writing and conflicts together with school writing, this model would consider these horizontal layers as well as writing center work and coursework over time (109). “An ecological model of literate development reflects the shift toward a broader, more multidimensional view of expertise outlined by scholars including Engestrom, et al. (1995), and Tuomi-Grohn et al. (2003) who argue for a more expansive view of expertise that recognizes persons’ engagement with and movements between activities in multiple settings.”

Such an ecological/thick description model could include:

1) Asking instructors to provide reflective, narrative course assessments.

 2) Assessing student digital competencies achieved through successful student completion of course requirements (Building a functioning website, composing and publishing a movie essay, etc.)

3) Submitting sample portfolios for programmatic assessment to compare to the existing course model using a rubric that recognizes the higher order thinking, broader use of genre, rhetorical impacts, and digital creativity emphasized in this new model.

 4) Sharing, honoring and republishing examples of exceptional student work.

5) Longitudinally,  tracking student progress toward degree and subsequent grades, especially in writing intensive courses.

Works Cited 

Huot, Brian.  (Re)Articulating Writing Assessment for Teaching and Learning. Logan, Utah: Utah State U.P., 2002. Print.

Wardle, Elizabeth and Roozen, Kevin. “Addressing the Complexity of Writing Development Toward an Ecological Model of Assessment.”  Assessing Writing. 17.2 (2012): 106-19. Print.