Thursday, March 24, 2011

Research: College Faculty Criteria for Writing

Question: What do college faculty look for in students’ writing?

Source: Kreth, M., Crawford, M. A., Taylor, M., & Brockman, E. (2010). Situated assessment: Limitations
and promise. Assessing Writing, 15(1), 40–59.

Answer: “Analyzes results of a four-year writing assessment project from 2002–2006 at Central Michigan
University involving an initial survey/focus group of 115 faculty members regarding their writing
assignments and perceptions of students’ writing quality followed by an analysis of student
writing samples.

“Finds that few faculty gave more than six writing assignments or assignments longer than six pages, with the essay exam being the most common assignment, followed by critical analysis and research papers.

“Faculty perceived the features of ‘good’ writing first in terms of ‘correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling,’ followed by organization, clarity, logic/critical thinking, and support for claims, with 86% indicating that they found the latter two evident in only ‘some’ or ‘few’ of their students’ writing.”

Comment: If the most frequent writing assignment was the essay exam, it’s no wonder that the students did not produce correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. With the essay exam, students don’t have enough time to smooth the grammar.

Do the college faculty ever discuss with students how to write an essay exam? Here’s a suggestion: If the question is “What were the causes of X-War?” the students make the first sentence the thesis sentence, “The causes of X-War were the need for geographical expansion, economic expansion and the ambition of the king.” The first set of paragraphs in the body of the exam deals with geographical expansion, the next set of paragraphs deals with economic expansion and the final set of paragraphs deals with the king’s ambition. RayS.

Title: “Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English.” Richard Beach et al. Research in the Teaching of English (November 2010), Internet. Note: The editors of RTE said that so much research was available they did not want to burden the paper edition of the journal with it, so they relegated their annotated reports on research to the Internet.

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