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Spring 2014 Course Descriptions

English 5011  Studies in Composition/Rhetoric: The Practice and Politics of Evaluating Student Writing

English 5011 Section 001       CRN 31658
Studies in Composition/Rhetoric: The Practice and Politics of Evaluating Student Writing   1900-2130 T

For most writing teachers, evaluating students’ writing takes the majority of the time we spend on our courses and represents a significant amount of the one-on-one communication we have with our students. Despite the amount of time spent grading, teachers often don’t take time to critically analyze their approaches to evaluation or to plan an effective method for handling a stack of papers. This course will examine evaluation broadly, from establishing evaluation criteria for assignments to giving feedback on drafts to assigning a final grade on the paper. 

Throughout the course, we will examine a wide range of questions related to the evaluation of students’ writing: How do our beliefs about teaching and what makes good writing affect how we evaluate students? What can research tell us about the types of feedback and grades that are most useful for students? How can we use different types of evaluation at different stages in the writing process? How can we prepare students and ourselves for the evaluation process through our assignment designs? What role should correctness play in the grades we give? How do we evaluate papers that take positions we disagree with? What roles do technologies such as document reviewing, Turnitin, grammar and spelling checkers, and even search engines such as Google play in the evaluation of student writing? What methods can we find for handling a stack of papers efficiently, while still providing quality feedback?

In addition to readings and discussions related to issues involved in evaluation, you will have the opportunity to evaluate sample pieces of student writing and to develop evaluation criteria and grading rubrics. As part of this course, you will also develop a position statement that describes your approach to evaluation of student writing. At the end of the semester, you will research and write a paper on a topic related to evaluating students’ writing.