Assessing Outcomes in a Technical Communication Capstone

Assessing Outcomes in a Technical Communication Capstone

Barbara D’Angelo (Arizona State University, USA) and Barry Maid (Arizona State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-667-9.ch009
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Outcomes-based assessment provides data for programs to demonstrate student learning as a result of their enrollment in the program and to assess courses and curriculum. This chapter reports on the process used to develop an outcomes assessment initiative for the Multimedia Writing and Technical Communication Program at Arizona State University. The authors discuss details on the development of outcomes, the mapping of outcomes to the curriculum, the use of electronic portfolios to assess student writing using Phase 2 scoring procedures, and how results from the first three semesters of implementation are being used to evaluate and improve the program’s curriculum.
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Technical communication programs are no less immune from the need to demonstrate accountability than other educational programs. As an applied rhetoric, technical communication shares many disciplinary similarities with other writing programs. At the same time, technical communication has a distinct history, goals and objectives, and closer ties to industry and the workplace. Further, undergraduate degree-granting technical communication programs (such as the one discussed in this chapter), must address two missions. On the one hand, the program must address learning for program majors. On the other hand, the program must address the learning for students who enroll in “service courses.” These service courses are upper-division applied writing courses in which students from other majors enroll to build on what they learned in first-year composition.

Research from the broader discipline of rhetoric and composition can inform technical communication degree programs so that outcomes and assessment strategies are established within disciplinary context. When divorced from teaching and learning, program assessment can be viewed as an administrative mandate which imposes values and definitions of writing upon teachers that are potentially at odds with pedagogy and teaching philosophies. Assessment, then, can become equated with accountability to external parties rather than as a way to connect and foster teaching and learning. Edward M. White (1995) has argued that no assessment device is inherently good or bad. Further, he lists three qualities of assessment at its best (White, 1994):

  • it clearly defines what we do and what we expect our students to do and learn;

  • it helps us discover whether students have learned; and

  • it changes our teaching so that we prepare better assignments, give more constructive responses, and grade less.

Further, White (1994) claims that a primary mistake made in program assessment is to choose a measure before developing goals, specifications, and uses of an instrument.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Outcomes Assessment: The evaluation of student work based on articulated outcomes for a course of study

Holistic Scoring: A scoring method to evaluate writing in which raters award a score for the overall quality instead of for individual traits

Curriculum Matrix: Document visualizing the relationship between outcomes and courses

Authentic Assessment: A form of assessment that requires students to demonstrate performance of skills and abilities

Capstone: The culminating experience of an academic program designed to bring together a student’s educational experiences

Program Review: An expansive process of evaluating academic programs which incorporates the use of data from multiple sources

Rhetorical Argument: A form of academic writing in which the student makes a claim and supports it with evidence

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Christopher S. Schreiner
Christopher S. Schreiner
Chapter 1
Melissa A. Dyehouse, John Y. Baek, Richard A. Lesh
This chapter describes a model for evaluating complex organizations or systems. The design assessment model the authors propose is a response to... Sample PDF
Multi-Tier Design Assessment in the Development of Complex Organizational Systems
Chapter 2
Hedva Lewittes
In this chapter critical thinking is assessed using two critical thinking learning outcomes that were required for the State University of New... Sample PDF
A Critical Thinking Rubric as the Basis of Assessment and Curriculum
Chapter 3
Suzanne Pieper, Erika Edwards, Brandon Haist, Walter Nolan
The purpose of this chapter is to review literature over the past ten years regarding technology tools that are being used in higher education to... Sample PDF
A Survey of Effective Technologies to Assess Student Learning
Chapter 4
John Baer, Sharon S. McKool
The Consensual Assessment Technique is a powerful tool used by creativity researchers in which panels of expert judges are asked to rate the... Sample PDF
Assessing Creativity Using the Consensual Assessment Technique
Chapter 5
Christine Charyton, Zorana Ivcevic, Jonathan A. Plucker, James C. Kaufman
This chapter discusses creativity assessment as a means for evaluating skills required in higher education. Creativity is assessed in the context of... Sample PDF
Creativity Assessment in Higher Education
Chapter 6
Asao B. Inoue
This chapter articulates writing assessment as a technology, theorized with three aspects (power, parts, and purpose), accounting for the ways in... Sample PDF
The Technology of Writing Assessment and Racial Validity
Chapter 7
Sheila S. Thompson, Annemarie Vaccaro
The purpose of this chapter is to address epistemological and methodological approaches to assessing assessment. The authors’ intent is to show how... Sample PDF
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods as Complementary Assessment Tools
Chapter 8
Teresa Flateby
The development of the Cognitive Level and Quality of Writing Assessment online system is described in this chapter. Beginning with needs identified... Sample PDF
Effects of Assessment Results on a Writing and Thinking Rubric
Chapter 9
Barbara D’Angelo, Barry Maid
Outcomes-based assessment provides data for programs to demonstrate student learning as a result of their enrollment in the program and to assess... Sample PDF
Assessing Outcomes in a Technical Communication Capstone
Chapter 10
Sonya Borton, Alanna Frost, Kate Warrington
As Jacqueline Jones Royster articulated at the 2006 Conference on College Composition and Communication, English departments are already assessing... Sample PDF
Assessing the Composition Program on Our Own Terms
Chapter 11
Joan Aitken
This chapter uses a case study to exemplify one approach to assessment of three instructional delivery formats: (a) online, (b) distance, satellite... Sample PDF
A Case Study of Instructional Delivery Formats
Chapter 12
Victor W. Brunsden
The author present a case-study of a classroom technique that allows assessment and some remediation of several shortcomings of college student... Sample PDF
Inverting the Remedial Mathematics Classroom with Alternative Assessment
Chapter 13
David A. Eubanks
This chapter describes Coker College’s subjective performance assessment program to rate student thinking and communication skills. It uses a... Sample PDF
A Case Study of Authentic Assessment
Chapter 14
P. Tokyo Kang, David Gugin
This chapter reports an outcomes assessment study conducted at the University of Guam. The assessment project was conducted during the 2006-07 and... Sample PDF
Outcomes Assessment in Japanese Language Instruction
Chapter 15
Barika Barboza, Frances Singh
This chapter describes an outcomes assessment study completed in a basic composition course at a small urban open admissions community college. The... Sample PDF
Assessing the Effectiveness of a Basic Writing Course
Chapter 16
Lorraine Gilpin, Yasar Bodur, Kathleen Crawford
Peer assessment holds tremendous potential to positively impact the development of preservice teachers. The purpose of this chapter is to describe... Sample PDF
Peer Assessment for Development of Preservice Teachers
Chapter 17
Charlotte Brammer, Rhonda Parker
In 2002, Samford University began working on a long-term learning assessment plan designed to evaluate its undergraduates’ competencies in written... Sample PDF
Workshops and E-Portfolios as Transformational Assessment
Chapter 18
Daniel F. Chambliss
This chapter describes how the trend favoring assessment initiatives of a system-wide scope such as program review and collegiate learning... Sample PDF
A Neglected Necessity in Liberal Arts Assessment: The Student as the Unit of Analysis
Chapter 19
Deirdre Pettipiece, Timothy Ray, Justin Everett
Perhaps due to its applicability as a performance of skill sets in virtually all disciplines, writing as a mechanism for measuring student success... Sample PDF
Redefining Writing Reality Multi-Modal Writing and Assessment
Chapter 20
Sean A. McKitrick
This chapter introduces methods that can be used to engage faculty in the assessment process, working within a shared governance structure in... Sample PDF
Engaging Faculty as a Strategic Choice in Assessment
Chapter 21
Steven M. Culver, Ray VanDyke
There is much in the assessment literature about the necessity of developing a culture of assessment and mandates from accrediting bodies include... Sample PDF
Developing a Receptive and Faculty-Focused Environment for Assessment
Chapter 22
John Wittman
This chapter argues that as primary stakeholders in writing program assessment, students and instructors need to be included proactively in... Sample PDF
New Collaborations for Writing Program Assessment
Chapter 23
Mya Poe
The study of racial-ethnic group differences on educational tests has yielded a substantial body of research internationally in the last decade. In... Sample PDF
Reporting Race and Ethnicity in International Assessment
Chapter 24
Joan Hawthorne, Tatyana Dumova, April Bradley, Daphne Pederson
In this chapter the authors describe a method developed to assess the outcome of a “cultural familiarity” general education goal. Challenges in... Sample PDF
Method Development for Assessing a Diversity Goal
About the Contributors