Redefining Writing Reality Multi-Modal Writing and Assessment

Redefining Writing Reality Multi-Modal Writing and Assessment

Deirdre Pettipiece (University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, USA), Timothy Ray (West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA) and Justin Everett (University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-667-9.ch019
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Perhaps due to its applicability as a performance of skill sets in virtually all disciplines, writing as a mechanism for measuring student success is more persistent than ever. New technologies, such as computerized scoring and distanced assessments, make these writing assessments readily available, affordable, replicable, and transferable. However, determining the value of the texts produced with new technologies is difficult. Therefore, this chapter introduces a variety of multi-modal writing assessment methods and discusses potential ways to determine the value of the student texts produced in them.
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“Assessment of writing can be a blessing or a curse, a friend or a foe, an important support for our work as teachers or a major impediment to what we need to do for our students. Like nuclear power, say, or capitalism, it offers enormous possibilities for good or ill, and, furthermore, it often shows both its benign and destructive faces at the same time.”

Edward White, Teaching and Assessing Writing, 1994.

When Ed White penned these words, writing assessment—indeed, the term assessment itself—was fast becoming the curricular and practical focus of education everywhere. As an institutional practice, assessment has mushroomed even further in the nearly fifteen years since White’s important text was first published, and its emphasis on student writing is greater than ever. What he may not have imagined were the increasingly progressive means by which teachers of writing would both assess and instruct writing or the now global ways in which such assessment and instruction might be viewed. Online writing placements, electronic portfolios, and “blogs,” have in many institutions replaced more traditional assessment methodologies. Where once virtually all assessment of student writing had to be done face to face, new media tools make writing assessment “virtual” and available to anyone with internet access. Similarly, where formerly institutions used paper and pencil to determine student placement and student progress, internet accessibility makes the concepts of placement, instruction, evaluation, revision, and publication a now “World Wide Web” of possibilities and the overall impact of new technologies on assessment cannot be overestimated.

This chapter’s goal is to discuss new technologies as potential means for:

  • a.

    distanced assessments via digital directed self-placement, SAT writing tests, and other online writing assessments;

  • b.

    machine-scoring of student essays;

  • c.

    digital portfolios and the multi-modal artifacts they can store;

  • d.

    digital “webblogs,” wikis, podcasts, hypertext;

We will also problematize these somewhat by discussing these technologies’ potential misuse and misapplication, mirroring as they do White’s statements of the good and bad, the danger and the benefit of writing assessment.

We begin our chapter with a brief history of standardized assessments in the UK and in the U.S., as these two distinctly different sets of practices have informed educational systems around the world; as a result, standardized testing is a nearly global practice. Additionally, we will discuss the connections between these assessments and placement of students in institutions of higher education. While virtually all institutions of higher education participate in placement assessment in some form, as D. Blakesley (2002) puts it, we “may have greatly underestimated the ethical and moral complexity of writing placement, even as we have worked so hard to ensure that students take the course that will best help them become successful writers in the university and beyond” (p.10). As more and more institutions compete for students—both local and international--and as open admissions policies become more widespread in an effort to provide more access and more full-time enrollment, the spectrum of student preparedness for college-level study broadens, making effective placement decisions more elusive than ever.


Student Assessment And Placement: A Brief History And Some Options

In the United States and elsewhere, matriculation writing-placement systems are longstanding—some more than a century old—some older than the courses they still support. For example, in the United States in 1874, for the first time in their entrance examinations Harvard University asked students to show writing proficiency by composing a short essay (read by teachers). Ten years of poor performance on this exam finally prompted the establishment of the first freshman composition course as we now know it (D. Russell, 2002). According to J. Berlin, this examination was based on the assumption that students should enroll already competent in writing, a feeling still shared by many academics. However, as an examination of the essays written in 1894 revealed, even the best students in the country were arriving unprepared to write at a college level. The debate over what should constitute a college entrance essay led, in 1911, to the establishment of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Weblog: Weblogs or “blogs” are easily-updated online journals that combine text with images, videos, and links to other web sites or other blogs.

Directed Self Placement: A method for placing students in writing courses most beneficial to the acquisition of new skills in which students use rubrics and guidelines to appropriately self-select a course.

Podcast: Audio files that are distributed through the World Wide Web and which are intended to be listened to primarily on portable MP3 players such as the iPod

WYSIWYG: An acronym for “What you see is what you get.” A WYSIWYG authoring program depicts a document exactly as it will look when printed out or when posted to the World Wide Web.

Hypertext: A form of digital text which incorporates hyperlinks in the text so that readers can click on the hypertext to link to (navigate to) another page or web site or another part in the document.?Interface – Interaction between users (writers) and digital media.

Multimodal: A form of writing that incorporates text with other media such as graphics, images, audio, and video.

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
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