Assessing Essay Lipset-Rokkan Thesis
Much of the work of Writing Program Administration and scholarship in the field is tied to assessment– and a lot (most?) comp/rhet specialists end up involved in WPA work at some point in their careers.Most composition and rhetoric scholars think this software is a bad idea.I think this is not not true, though I do have three thoughts.For most college students, papers (or essays) are training for white collar careers to learn how to complete required office paperwork.Second, while it is true that robo-grading standardized tests does not help anyone learn how to write, the most visible aspect of writing pedagogy to people who have no expertise in teaching (beyond experience as a student, of course) is not the teaching but the assessment.
Other students have figured out that they could do well writing one really good paragraph and just copying that four times to make a five-paragraph essay that scores well.
Read any of the quite old classics (de Montaigne comes to mind, though I don’t know his work as well as I should) or even the more modern ones (E. White or Joan Didion or the very contemporary David Sedaris) and you get more of a sense of this classic meaning.
Sure, these writers’ essays are organized and have a point, but they wander to them and they are presented (presumably after much revision) as if the writer was discovering their point along with the reader.
As I understand it, software like this can rate/grade the response to a specific essay question– “in what ways did the cinematic techniques of was a good movie?
”– and it is not very good at all at rating/grading pieces of writing with almost no constraints, as in “what’s your favorite movie?
First, I agree with what my friend and colleague Bill Hart-Davidson writes here about essays, though this is not what most people think “essay” means.