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Organic Writing Assessment

Organic Writing Assessment: Dynamic Criteria Mapping in Action

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 174
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  • Book Info
    Organic Writing Assessment
    Book Description:

    Educators strive to create "assessment cultures" in which they integrate evaluation into teaching and learning and match assessment methods with best instructional practice. But how do teachers and administrators discover and negotiate the values that underlie their evaluations? Bob Broad's 2003 volume, What We Really Value, introduced dynamic criteria mapping (DCM) as a method for eliciting locally-informed, context-sensitive criteria for writing assessments. The impact of DCM on assessment practice is beginning to emerge as more and more writing departments and programs adopt, adapt, or experiment with DCM approaches. For the authors of Organic Writing Assessment, the DCM experience provided not only an authentic assessment of their own programs, but a nuanced language through which they can converse in the always vexing, potentially divisive realm of assessment theory and practice. Of equal interest are the adaptations these writers invented for Broad's original process, to make DCM even more responsive to local needs and exigencies. Organic Writing Assessment represents an important step in the evolution of writing assessment in higher education. This volume documents the second generation of an assessment model that is regarded as scrupulously consistent with current theory; it shows DCM's flexibility, and presents an informed discussion of its limits and its potentials.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-731-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

  1. 1 ORGANIC MATTERS: In Praise of Locally Grown Writing Assessment
    (pp. 1-13)
    Bob Broad

    In his book Organic Matters (2001), farmer Henry Brockman criticizes the USDA definition of “organic” (grown without chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers) as dangerously weak. He points out that most commercially grown organic produce purchased at grocery stores lacks flavor and nutrition just as much as most commercially grown non-organic produce. Both these kinds of food are produced industrially with the goal of high yields, and with similar costs to the environment, to the flavor and nutritional value of the produce, and ultimately to consumers.

    In other words, what Michael Pollan (2006) calls “industrial organic” agriculture enacts nearly (but not...

  2. 2 THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION: The Place of Assessment in an Activist Writing Program–Eastern Michigan University
    (pp. 14-36)
    Linda Adler-Kassner and Heidi Estrem

    Eastern Michigan University is a comprehensive university of about 24,000 (about 22,000 of whom are undergraduates). Our students typically come from southeastern Michigan and northwestern Ohio. They come to EMU for a variety of reasons—proximity to their homes, cost (we’re fairly inexpensive, as colleges and universities go), friends who have come here before, or because they want to be teachers and we’re well-known as a “teacher training” school. (EMU started as the Michigan Normal School in 1849.)

    When we were both at EMU, we were director and associate director of first-year writing, respectively. (Linda remains director of first-year writing.)...

  3. 3 DCM AS THE ASSESSMENT PROGRAM: Mid Michigan Community College
    (pp. 37-51)
    Barry Alford

    The other examples of DCM (dynamic criteria mapping) included in this volume are focused on how the process works in English departments housed in four-year schools. While those examples have some contextual and discursive issues as a subtext about what and how assessment measures are structured, they are still implementing DCM in an institutional and cultural context that is more similar than it is different. That is, while departments have their own internal tensions, they share a field of study and discursive practices that community college “programs” do not. As a result, faculty in community colleges often end up talking...

  4. 4 Designs on Assessment at UNR: University of Nevada, Reno
    (pp. 52-74)
    Jane Detweiler and Maureen McBride

    The University of Nevada, Reno is the state’s flagship research university, with a long tradition of excellence in providing a liberal arts education. At most recent count, about 15,000 students are enrolled (about 12,000 undergraduate and 3,000 graduate). Its “vertical” Core curriculum was created/elaborated over a number of years beginning in the 1980s, with firstyear math and writing courses, a three-course humanities sequence, distribution requirements in fine arts, social sciences, and sciences, and junior-and senior-level general and major capstone courses as writing-intensive, culminating experiences.

    The Core writing program administers a three-course sequence. By standardized test scores, students initially place in...

  5. 5 ASSESSMENT CHANGES FOR THE LONG HAUL: Dynamic Criteria Mapping at Indiana University Purdue University Indianpolis
    (pp. 75-118)
    Susanmarie Harrington and Scott Weeden

    What Parker Palmer calls the mysteries of teaching and learning all seem to vanish in the moment a grade is written on a portfolio or paper. Whatever doubts we have in determining the grade, whatever combination of strengths and weaknesses have led us to decide that yes, this is a B+ (despite the fact that the literature review depends on too many sweeping generalizations, the elegant writing style and the creative solutions that appear in your conclusion make this a strong report) all get elided as the grade itself comes to represent the essay. “What did you get?” students ask...

  6. 6 PUTTING PLACEMENT ON THE MAP: Bowling Green State University
    (pp. 119-153)
    Eric Stalions

    As a doctoral student in the Rhetoric and Writing Program at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Bowling Green, Ohio, I adapted Bob Broad’s (2003) dynamic criteria mapping (DCM) research model to identify, analyze, and map the rhetorical values or criteria that guided the General Studies Writing placement program’s evaluators in placing students into one of the first-year writing courses in 2006. Located in Bowling Green, Ohio, BGSU serves approximately 23,000 students through 200 undergraduate majors and programs, 64 master’s degree programs, and 17 doctoral programs. The purpose of the study was to present a focused validation argument to strengthen...

  7. 7 BOOKEND
    (pp. 154-159)
    Bob Broad

    Upon re-reading these inter-connected accounts of five adventures in dynamic criteria mapping, I am struck by how greatly these co-authors have enriched the theory and practice that appeared in its infancy in the 2003 book What We Really Value. The contributors to this volume have vividly and lovingly illustrated how much more flexible, adaptable, broadly applicable, and variable the DCM process can be than what I earlier did and described. In William James’s words, they have shown what concrete difference DCM makes in people’s actual lives.

    The table below represents my synthesis and summary of each of the five projects,...