Writing Assessment Overview
Writing and Linguistics Department
Georgia Southern University
Performance in English 1101 and 1102
course grade in English 1101 or 1102 may rest on many aspects of student
performance, primary among them, of course, the written products
submitted. Other important aspects of
- reaching for and grappling with
complex ideas through talking, listening, reading, and writing, both
formally and informally;
- engaging seriously in draft
- giving and receiving
constructive criticism (in peer response, for example); and
- contributing to the community of learners
in the class.
Expectations and Responsibilities
first-year writing courses in the Writing and Linguistics Department are committed
to the Course Outcomes, but in relation to these outcomes the means by which
student writing is evaluated are complex and multifaceted. The criteria that matter most for any
particular assignment are determined by a combination of some or all of the
- the teacher's goals for the
particular assignment and its place in the overall progression of a
- the preliminary tasks leading
up to the final text, such as exploratory writing or collaborative
- the kind of writing assigned;
- the nature of grading appropriate
to a portfolio, a sequence of assignments, or a stand-alone text.
teacher is responsible for making clear to students the criteria by which
assignments are evaluated. Teachers may
do so in a variety of ways. For example, the course syllabus or other handouts may include evaluation criteria,
outcomes statements, generalized grading criteria sheets, or other such
rubrics. In conjunction with each
assignment, faculty may articulate individual evaluation criteria. And evaluation criteria may be articulated through assessment strategies that faculty teach
in class, perhaps during peer response or related activities.
Evaluation of Student Writing
most familiar criteria on which a piece of writing is evaluated are the
traditional, rhetorical ones:
given piece of writing typically takes into account all these categories but
the interplay among them differs from one text to the next. For example, one piece of writing might be
"satisfactory" in all the above categories, but another equally "satisfactory" example
might show excellence in some categories, weakness in one, and average quality
in the remainder. While these categories
certainly figure significantly in the evaluation of college writing, a few
additional points about writing assessment are also important to understand.
Not all writing assignments
necessarily emphasize all criteria. For example, the final assessment of:
- An annotated bibliography or a
letter assignment may stress
conventions of document format.
- A summary or sensory
description may stress the
accuracy of content or detail.
- A reflective essay or
theoretical analysis may stress
the richness of idea-development.
- An executive summary may stress the crispness of thesis
- A web page or document with
tables may stress the features
of a particular technology used to produce the text.
- A journal or response to
readings may stress the
difficult process of thinking critically and analytically.
In addition, teachers' goals
for the same assignment may emphasize different aspects of the text. For example, a teacher may, because of the
course goals and progression of assignments, need to evaluate a letter for
its idea-richness primarily rather than its format. Or the teacher may choose to grade one
letter assignment for its idea-richness and a second for its structure and
comparison to the score on a multiple choice test, the grade on a piece of
writing may appear to be "subjective," but in fact responsible grading is far
from arbitrary or idiosyncratic. Even a
group of very different writing teachers will reach significant consensus on a
grade as long as they understand the full context of the assignment that
prompted the writing--its goals, its design, its place in a sequence of
assignments, its place in the writer's development, and so on.
writing classes rests on complex processes, but the goal of this document and
other related ones is to help clarify the process for students and others who
have a stake in writing assessment at Georgia Southern University.