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In "Looking Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment as a Rhetorical Act," Kathleen Blake Yancey offers a history of writing assessment by tracing three major shifts in methods used in assessing writing.She describes the three major shifts through the metaphor of overlapping waves: "with one wave feeding into another but without completely displacing waves that came before".
Peggy O'Neill, Cindy Moore, and Brian Huot explain in A Guide To College Writing Assessment that reliability and validity are the most important terms in discussing best practices in writing assessment.
reliability confronts questions over the consistency of a test.
Validity confronts questions over a test's appropriateness and effectiveness for the given purpose.
Methods in this wave were more concerned with a test's construct validity: whether the material prompted from a test is an appropriate measure of what the test purports to measure. It is one method of assessment where students' writing is prompted to measure their writing ability.
Methods of writing assessment vary depending on the context and type of assessment.
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The following is an incomplete list of writing assessments frequently administered: Portfolio assessment is typically used to assess what students have learned at the end of a course or over a period of several years.Diederich, French, and Carlton based much of their book on research conducted through the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for the previous decade.This book is an attempt to standardize the assessment of writing and, according to Broad, created a base of research in writing assessment.Starting in the 1950s, more students from diverse backgrounds were attending colleges and universities, so administrators made use of standardized testing to decide where these students should be placed, what and how to teach them, and how to measure that they learned what they needed to learn.The large-scale statewide writing assessments that developed during this time combined direct writing assessment with multiple-choice items, a practice that remains dominant today across U. large scale testing programs, such as the SAT and GRE.In this wave, the central concern was to assess writing with the best predictability with the least amount of cost and work.The shift toward the second wave marked a move toward considering principles of validity.Course portfolios consist of multiple samples of student writing and a reflective letter or essay in which students describe their writing and work for the course.Both print and electronic portfolios can be either showcase or process portfolios, though electronic portfolios typically contain hyperlinks from the reflective essay or letter to samples of student work and, sometimes, outside sources.In other words, the theories and practices from each wave are still present in some current contexts, but each wave marks the prominent theories and practices of the time.The first wave of writing assessment (1950-1970) sought objective tests with indirect measures of assessment.