Assessing the Teaching of Writing

Assessing the Teaching of Writing: Twenty-First Century Trends and Technologies

Edited by AMY E. DAYTON
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hkx9
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  • Book Info
    Assessing the Teaching of Writing
    Book Description:

    Although fraught with politics and other perils, teacher evaluation can contribute in important, positive ways to faculty development at both the individual and the departmental levels. Yet the logistics of creating a valid assessment are complicated. Inconsistent methods, rater bias, and overreliance on student evaluation forms have proven problematic. The essays inAssessing the Teaching of Writingdemonstrate constructive ways of evaluating teacher performance, taking into consideration the immense number of variables involved.Contributors to the volume examine a range of fundamental issues, including the political context of declining state funds in education; growing public critique of the professoriate and demands for accountability resulting from federal policy initiatives like No Child Left Behind; the increasing sophistication of assessment methods and technologies; and the continuing interest in the scholarship of teaching. The first section addresses concerns and advances in assessment methodologies, and the second takes a closer look at unique individual sites and models of assessment. Chapters collectively argue for viewing teacher assessment as a rhetorical practice.Fostering new ways of thinking about teacher evaluation,Assessing the Teaching of Writingwill be of great interest not only to writing program administrators but also to those concerned with faculty development and teacher assessment outside the writing program.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-966-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-x)
    Edward M. White

    This important book comes twenty years after the first book on its subject, Christine Hult’s (1994) edited collection,Evaluating Teachers of Writing. During this period, evaluating the performance of teachers has been a hot button topic for educational reformers of every stripe and background—with the notable absence of writing teachers. The well-known problem, though not a consistently or convincingly documented one, is that American students at all levels are not learning what they should be learning; the well-known solution, to follow Mencken’s aphorism at the head of this page, is to evaluate teachers in simple-minded ways, place the blame...

  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. SECTION I: FRAMEWORKS AND METHODS FOR ASSESSING TEACHING
    • 1 ASSESSING TEACHING: A Changing Landscape
      (pp. 3-12)
      Amy E. Dayton

      Assessing the teaching of writing is a process fraught with conflict. Despite a significant body of research pointing to the importance of multiple assessment measures and careful interpretation of the data, the evaluation of postsecondary teaching still relies heavily on a single measure of performance—the student ratings score—and interpretation of this score is often done in a hasty, haphazard fashion. Aside from student ratings, other data on teaching effectiveness tend to be collected in piecemeal fashion, without sufficient space for reflection and dialogue. When it comes to assessment, practical realities—including a lack of time, administrative resources, or...

    • 2 ASSESSING THE TEACHING OF WRITING: A Scholarly Approach
      (pp. 13-30)
      Meredith DeCosta and Duane Roen

      InWhat the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain (2004) argues that effective teachers “develop their abilities through constant self-evaluation, reflection, and the willingness to change” (172). As they do so, they place student learning front and center. To assess teachers’ effectiveness, writing program administrators (WPAs) must draw on appropriate methods for evaluating the teaching of writing, including both formative evaluations (designed to enhance performance) and summative evaluations (designed to judge performance) (Hult 1994). This means that when we assess the teaching of writing, we need to be mindful of the ultimate task: to help teachers develop their abilities in...

    • 3 MAKING SENSE (AND MAKING USE) OF STUDENT EVALUATIONS
      (pp. 31-44)
      Amy E. Dayton

      Perhaps no aspect of college teaching raises as much anxiety as the process of being evaluated by our students. Some instructors respond to this dread by refusing to read their evaluations at all, or by dismissing them as uninformed. This perception is illustrated by a comment I recently overheard on my campus: “student evaluations don’t tell us anything, because students don’t know enough to evaluate their instructors.” Regardless of their opinion about the validity of student ratings, most instructors can relate to the sentiment expressed by theChronicle of Higher Educationcontributor who lamented that her evaluations were filled with...

    • 4 WATCHING OTHER PEOPLE TEACH: The Challenge of Classroom Observations
      (pp. 45-60)
      Brian Jackson

      When I observe someone teach, I like to go early, sit in the back, and try to blend in. The semester is half over and I am a thirty-something guy at the back of the class, wearing a tie and glasses, with a goldenrod observation sheet in front of me. Even the sleepiest of writing students will assume I’m there to spy on them and/or their teacher. Usually the students are willing to play along: They ignore me, go straight to their regular seat, and assume the unassuming position of a student waiting for some kind of learning to happen....

    • 5 SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTIONAL DIAGNOSIS: Formative, Mid-Term Evaluations of Composition Courses and Instructors
      (pp. 61-79)
      Gerald Nelms

      As someone who has worked both as an instructional consultant in a university teaching and learning center and as a university writing program administrator (both a first-year WPA and Communication Across the Curriculum [CAC] director), I’ve been struck by the irony of how little WPAs and instructional consultants share their expertise with each other, despite the fact that both maintain an abiding concern for student learning. Few instructional consultants seem to attend the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) or regularly read composition books and journals, and few WPAs seem to know that there exists a growing literature on...

    • 6 REGARDING THE “E” IN E-PORTFOLIOS FOR TEACHER ASSESSMENT
      (pp. 80-96)
      Kara Mae Brown, Kim Freeman and Chris W. Gallagher

      Teacher portfolios, and now electronic portfolios, are well established in K–12 teacher education and in the scholarship of teaching movement in higher education, inaugurated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Association for Higher Education. Researchers and practitioners tout teacher e-portfolios as valuable tools for making teaching and learning visible; sponsoring teacher reflection and inquiry; promoting professional development; allowing rich representations of teacher identity; supporting constructivist and situated learning models; helping teachers market themselves to potential employers; and facilitating curricular investigation and revision (Avraamidou and Zembal-Saul 2003; Boyer 1990; Cambridge et al. 2001; Hutchings...

  6. SECTION II: NEW CHALLENGES, NEW CONTEXTS FOR ASSESSING TEACHING
    • 7 TECHNOLOGY AND TRANSPARENCY: Sharing and Reflecting on the Evaluation of Teaching
      (pp. 99-117)
      Chris M. Anson

      In my work helping writing instructors create teaching portfolios (Anson 1994), I began to discover an interesting irony hidden in small fissures between the portfolios’ formative and summative functions. In displaying various materials from their classes—student evaluations, syllabi, writing assignments—these instructors knew they were being judged on the quality of their teaching. After all, the portfolios were partly designed to showcase their best efforts. But in the secondary documents—the ones thatreflectedon their materials and gave voice to their concerns—some teachers revealed a kind of tentativeness and speculation that no longer positioned them as displaying...

    • 8 TELLING THE WHOLE STORY: Exploring Writing Center(ed) Assessment
      (pp. 118-132)
      Nichole Bennett

      Writing centers and writing programs are scholastic, and often programmatic and departmental, bedfellows. Similar resources fill the bookshelves of both writing program administrators and writing center directors. Assessment is one scholarly topic where our fields also converge. Writing program faculty, writing centers, and writing tutors all rely on assessment. At the heart of the teaching and tutoring of writing is a continual movement among an assessment of the writer and his or her needs, a sharing of knowledge and strategies to meet those needs, and a reflection on what the writer has learned. The challenge (that both writing programs and...

    • 9 ADMINISTRATIVE PRIORITIES AND THE CASE FOR MULTIPLE METHODS
      (pp. 133-151)
      Cindy Moore

      By now, the idea that teaching, like learning, is a complex activity—and should be evaluated as such—is common knowledge among educators. We’ve known for decades that, in order to draw accurate, fair conclusions about a teacher’s effectiveness, we need to both “consult” a variety of information “sources” (e.g., students, colleagues, administrators, the teacher herself) and use “ multiple measures” of teaching effectiveness, including teaching materials, class observation reports, and actual student work (Seldin 1984, 132; see also Seldin et al. 1990). With respect to rhetoric and composition, these principles informed early assertions that “ teachers should never be...

    • 10 TEACHER EVALUATION IN THE AGE OF WEB 2.0: What Every College Instructor Should Know and Every WPA Should Consider
      (pp. 152-170)
      Amy C. Kimme Hea

      A college composition graduate teaching assistant who doesn’t often use technology discovers that he has a few “bad” ratings on RateMyProfessors . com. What recourse does he have? What does this mean for his future job search?

      A writing program administrator (WPA) is hiring adjuncts to teach first-year composition, and through a Google search of one candidate, the WPA is led to the adjunct’s Academia. u status report that expresses her exhaustion with grading composition papers. What does this mean for her hiring status?

      In his life outside of the academy, an untenured faculty member sits on the advisory board...

    • 11 USING NATIONAL SURVEY OF STUDENT ENGAGEMENT DATA AND METHODS TO ASSESS TEACHING IN FIRST-YEAR COMPOSITION AND WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
      (pp. 171-186)
      Charles Paine, Chris M. Anson, Robert M. Gonyea and Paul Anderson

      The Consortium for the Study of Writing in College (CSWC)—a collaboration between the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)—has developed a 27-question survey focusing on writing instruction that, since 2008, has been administered (along with NSSE’s “core” survey) 247 times (at 202 different institutions) to over 57,000 first-year students and over 85,000 seniors.

      Considering the context of this collection (focusing on teacher and course assessment), it’s important to understand that both the NSSE and the CSWC surveys were designed to assess engagement and general educational effectiveness at the inter-institutional and...

    • 12 DOCUMENTING TEACHING IN THE AGE OF BIG DATA
      (pp. 187-200)
      Deborah Minter and Amy Goodburn

      Little more than a decade ago we introduced the collectionComposition, Pedagogy, and the Scholarship of Teaching(Minter and Goodburn 2002) by identifying organizations within higher education that had called for more structured and systematic ways of documenting teaching. Those organizations included the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Scholarship in Teaching and Learning and the American Association of Higher Education Peer Review Project. In a span of roughly ten years, the accountability movement has taken hold in higher education, and the stakes for representing teaching and learning have grown even higher. Current public discourse increasingly asks whether higher education...

  7. ABOUT THE AUTHORS
    (pp. 201-203)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 204-211)