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Twenty-First Century Trends and Technologies
Although fraught with politics and other perils, teacher evaluation can contribute in important, positive ways to faculty development at both the individual and the departmental levels. Yet the logistics of creating a valid assessment are complicated. Inconsistent methods, rater bias, and overreliance on student evaluation forms have proven problematic. The essays in Assessing the Teaching of Writing demonstrate constructive ways of evaluating teacher performance, taking into consideration the immense number of variables involved.
Contributors to the volume examine a range of fundamental issues, including the political context of declining state funds in education; growing public critique of the professoriate and demands for accountability resulting from federal policy initiatives like No Child Left Behind; the increasing sophistication of assessment methods and technologies; and the continuing interest in the scholarship of teaching. The first section addresses concerns and advances in assessment methodologies, and the second takes a closer look at unique individual sites and models of assessment. Chapters collectively argue for viewing teacher assessment as a rhetorical practice.
Fostering new ways of thinking about teacher evaluation, Assessing the Teaching of Writing will be of great interest not only to writing program administrators but also to those concerned with faculty development and teacher assessment outside the writing program.
A Practical Guide to Evaluating and Reporting on Writing Instruction Programs
The goals of this resource are broader than many standard books on writing assessment, which focus on evaluating an individual’s ability to create an effective piece of writing for a particular purpose. Assessing Writing, Assessing Learning seeks to support teachers, administrators, program directors, and funding entities who want to make the best use of the resources at their disposal to understand what students are learning and why and then take actions based on what they have learned. It also seeks to provide a common basis for communication among all the interested parties—the writing professionals, the people who identified the need for the program, and the students. The book has sections on planning, tools (different ways of collecting data and links to instruments), and reporting (examples provided). Each section includes a discussion of issues and advice for working through the issue along with numerous examples, plus a list of resources to consult to learn more. The final chapter provides worksheets that may be reproduced and used to help those in charge of setting up and delivering a writing program to think through the issues presented. A glossary of terms is also included.
Assessment in the Second Language Writing Classroom is a teacher and prospective teacher-friendly book, uncomplicated by the language of statistics. The book is for those who teach and assess second language writing in several different contexts: the IEP, the developmental writing classroom, and the sheltered composition classroom. In addition, teachers who experience a mixed population or teach cross-cultural composition will find the book a valuable resource. Other books have thoroughly covered the theoretical aspects of writing assessment, but none have focused as heavily as this book does on pragmatic classroom aspects of writing assessment. Further, no book to date has included an in-depth examination of the machine scoring of writing and its effects on second language writers. Crusan not only makes a compelling case for becoming knowledgeable about L2 writing assessment but offers the means to do so. Her highly accessible, thought-provoking presentation of the conceptual and practical dimensions of writing assessment, both for the classroom and on a larger scale, promises to engage readers who have previously found the technical detail of other works on assessment off-putting, as well as those who have had no previous exposure to the study of assessment at all.
A National Study of College Writing
In Assignments across the Curriculum, Dan Melzer analyzes the rhetorical features and genres of writing assignments through the writing-to-learn and writing-in-the-disciplines perspectives. Presenting the results of his study of 2,101 writing assignments from undergraduate courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, business, and humanities in 100 postsecondary institutions in the United States, Assignments across the Curriculum is unique in its cross-institutional breadth and its focus on writing assignments.
The results provide a panoramic view of college writing in the United States. Melzer's framework begins with the rhetorical situations of the assignments—the purposes and audiences—and broadens to include the assignments' genres and discourse community contexts. Among his conclusions is that courses connected to a writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) initiative ask students to write more often, in a greater variety of genres, and for a greater variety of purposes and audiences than non-WAC courses do, making a compelling case for the influence of the WAC movement.
Melzer's work also reveals patterns in the rhetorical situations, genres, and discourse communities of college writing in the United States. These larger patterns are of interest to WAC practitioners working with faculty across disciplines, to writing center coordinators and tutors working with students who bring assignments from a variety of fields, to composition program administrators, to first-year writing instructors interested in preparing students for college writing, and to high school teachers attempting to bridge the gap between high school and college writing.
How America Is Failing Our Children
Drawing on the latest research on development among toddlers and preschoolers, At a Loss for Words lays out the importance of getting parents, policy makers, and child care providers to recognize the role of early literacy skills in reducing the achievement gap that begins before three years of age. Readers are guided through home and classroom settings that promote language, contrasting them with the "merely mediocre" child care settings in which more and more young children spend increasing amounts of time. Too many of our young children are not receiving the level of input and practice that will enable them to acquire language skills—the key to success in school and life. Bardige explains how to build better community support systems for children, and better public education, in order to ensure that toddlers learn the power of language from their families and teachers.
How College Sports Corrupted the Academy
The unrivaled amount of cash poured into the college athletic system has made sports programs breeding grounds for corruption while diverting crucial resources from the academic mission of universities. Like money in Washington politics, the influence bought by a complex set of self-interested actors seriously undermines movement toward reform while trapping universities in a cycle of escalating competition. Longtime sport sociologist Howard L. Nixon II approaches the issue from the perspective of college presidents—how they are seduced by prestige or pressured by economics into building programs that move schools toward a commercial model of athletics. Nixon situates his analysis in the context of what he calls “the intercollegiate golden triangle,” a powerful social network of athletic, media, and private corporate commercial interests. This network lures presidents and other university leaders into an athletic arms race with promises of institutional enhancements, increased enrollments, better student morale, improved alumni loyalty, more financial contributions, and higher prestige. These promises can cloud the judgment of college presidents and governing boards, entangling them in an athletic trap that restricts their influence. Unable to control spending, inequalities, and deviance within commercialized athletic programs, universities are ensnared in financial, political, and social obligations that are difficult to sustain—or escape. Nixon clarifies the structure of this trap, describes how higher education institutions fall into it, and explores what it means for institutions and presidents caught in it. This timely analysis also has relevance to the debates about the role of the NCAA and ongoing reform efforts in college sports. The Athletic Trap will be of interest to university presidents, board members, and administrators, sport sociologists concerned with the balance of power between academics and athletics, and anyone else with a serious interest in college sports and its future.
State Policy Leadership in Higher Education
Although the federal government invests substantial resources into student financial aid, states have the primary responsibility for policies that raise overall higher educational attainment and improve equity across groups. The importance of understanding how states may accomplish these goals has never been greater, as educational attainment is increasingly required for economic and social well-being of individuals and society. Drawing on data collected from case studies of the relationship between public policy and higher education performance in five states—Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and Washington—The Attainment Agenda offers a framework for understanding how state public policy can effectively promote educational attainment. Laura W. Perna and Joni E. Finney argue that there is no silver bullet to improve higher education attainment. Instead, achieving the required levels of attainment demands a comprehensive approach. State leaders must consider how performance in one area (such as degree completion) is connected to performance in other areas (such as preparation or affordability), how particular policies interact to produce expected and unexpected outcomes, and how policy approaches must be adapted to reflect their particular context. The authors call for greater attention to the state role in providing policy leadership and steering of higher education in order to advance a cohesive public agenda for higher education and adopting public policies that not only increase the demand for and supply of higher education but also level the playing field for higher educational opportunity. The insights offered in The Attainment Agenda have important implications for public policymakers, college and university leaders, and educational researchers interested in ensuring sustained higher education attainment.
Vol. 1 (2010) to current issue
AUDEM: The International Journal of Higher Education and Democracy grows out of the work of the Alliance of Universities for Democracy (AUDEM). AUDEM focuses on the integration of universities at competitive levels into the world academic communities. With this journal, AUDEM adds another tool in its effort to expand opportunities for international collaboration in higher education and to promote the role of higher education in social and civic development.
The audience—the community of readers who will use the texts a writer produces—must be an important influence on the writer for his or her work to be effective.
Robert Brooke and John Hendricks examine the difficult task of teaching "writing for an audience" in a classroom where students know that the teacher, not the addressed audience, assigns the grade.
The authors describe in detail a particular writing class, taught by Brooke and observed by Hendricks, that attempted to teach writing for an audience. By combining the experiences from their study with student reactions to the class, they draw some conclusions about the dynamics of teaching writing and about learning in general.