Assessing Essay

Assessing Essay-6
But again, assessing writing is not the same thing as fostering an environment where students can learn more about writing, and it certainly is not how writing worth reading is created.I have never read an essay which mattered to me written by someone closely following the guidance of a typical assignment rubric.

But again, assessing writing is not the same thing as fostering an environment where students can learn more about writing, and it certainly is not how writing worth reading is created.I have never read an essay which mattered to me written by someone closely following the guidance of a typical assignment rubric.There is stuff to be learned (and to be shown to administrators) from these large scale program assessments, and while the grades we give to students aren’t always an accurate measure of what they learned or how well they can write, grades are critical to making the system of higher education work.

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NPR had a story on Weekend Edition last week, “More States Opting to ‘Robo-Grade” Student Essays By Computer,” that got some attention from other comp/rhet folks though not as much as I thought it might.

Essentially, the story is about the use of computers to “assess” (really “rate,” but I’ll get to that in a second) student writing on standardized tests.

For most college students, papers (or essays) are training for white collar careers to learn how to complete required office paperwork.

Second, while it is true that robo-grading standardized tests does not help anyone learn how to write, the most visible aspect of writing pedagogy to people who have no expertise in teaching (beyond experience as a student, of course) is not the teaching but the assessment.

There are books and journals and conferences devoted to assessment.

Plenty of comp/rhet types have had very good careers as assessment specialists. Don’t get me wrong– I think assessment is important, too.a student who wrote a whole page of the letter “b” ended up with a good score.Other students have figured out that they could do well writing one really good paragraph and just copying that four times to make a five-paragraph essay that scores well.As I understand it, software like this can rate/grade the response to a specific essay question– “in what ways did the cinematic techniques of was a good movie?”– and it is not very good at all at rating/grading pieces of writing with almost no constraints, as in “what’s your favorite movie?WPAs have to consider large-scale assessment issues to measure outcomes across many different sections of first year writing, and they usually have to mentor instructors on small-scale assessment– that is, how to grade and comment all these student papers in a way that is both useful to students and that does not take an enormous amount of time.There is a ton of scholarship on assessment– how to do it, what works or doesn’t, the pros and cons of portfolios, etc.I am not one to speak about the “kids today” because I’ve been teaching long enough to know students now are not a whole lot different than they were 30 years ago.But one thing I’ve noticed in recent years– I think because of “No Child Left Behind” and similar efforts– is the extent to which students nowadays seem puzzled about embarking on almost any writing assignment without a detailed rubric to follow.It’s really easy as a teacher to forget that, especially while trying to make the wheels of a class continue to turn smoothly with the help of tools like rubrics.As a teacher, I have to remind myself about that all the time.

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