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192Rocky Mountain Review assessment program in "Implementing a Portfolio System" in Belanoff and Dickson's book. Along with Kathryn Seltzer and Patricia Kolonosky, he takes us through the first semester of a portfolio assessment program. In "A WPA's Nightmare: Reflections on Using Portfolios as a Course Exit Exam," his contribution to New Directions, Smit questions the content validity and reliability of the program. His firsthand experience with a writing faculty, made up mostly of teaching assistants, demonstrates the importance of consistency and clarity of purpose. We have too often heard "Portfolios aren't perfect, but they're the best thing we've got right now." Apparently, not everyone shares this opinion. The editors ??New Directions chose to include an article by James A. Reither and Russell A. Hunt detailing the reasons why one writing program stopped using portfolios for assessment. They have, in the authors' words, moved "beyond portfolios." Other highlights include essays on gender bias and portfolio assessment, financial and administrative advice for Writing Program Administrators, and portfolios as tools for graduate students, teaching assistants, and new teachers. Those whose interests are in grades K-12 will likely be disappointed with the small amount of information directed specifically to them, although the book does contain an excellent essay by Sandra Murphy on classroom portfolio assessment for diverse K-12 student populations. As you read these essays, keep in mind Edward White's warning that assessment is here to stay: "The illusion that government can improve education at low cost by naive measurement is so politically attractive that it will remain potent no matter who may be in power" (26). Also keep in mind that the same illusion can fuel our enthusiasm for portfolios. In an often threatening climate of mandated assessment, portfolios can be seen as an easy fix or a cure-all for a writing program. New Directions doesn't try to point us on our way; the authors and editors are challenging us to examine our motives and to reevaluate our methods, ultimately helping us form the right questions with which to ask directions—of our students, our colleagues, and even our critics. MIKE LUEKER ßotse State University JOHN M. ELLIS. Language, Thought, and Logic. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1993. 163 p. öince the publication of Chomsky's Syntactic Structures in 1957, the predominant areas of research in theoretical linguistics have centered around syntax studies. The Chomsky school of generative grammar is predicated upon the premise that in order to understand language one must first begin by studying syntax, apart from semantic incumbrance. In Language, Thought, and Logic, John Ellis intends to establish a theory of language Book Reviews193 which moves beyond a syntax theory to a broader theory of language, one which will eliminate the confusion which has been inherently symptomatic of linguistic research efforts. Ellis criticizes Chomsky for his use of an invalid methodology in Syntactic Structures and argues that difficulties with the generative grammar field lie in the mistaken assumption that language theory can understand syntax without reference to semantic content. As Ellis sees it, this misguided attempt at separating linguistic form from content has been counterproductive. To Ellis, the grammar of a language and its lexicon represent a continuum of meaning, and in his book, Ellis argues that before productive research in language theory can proceed effectively, we must reexamine three fundamental assumptions which have been accepted in modern linguistics. According to Ellis, the fields of language study and philosophy have been seriously restricted by these inadequate theories, the first of which is that the primary function of language is communication. Ellis posits the idea that categorization, rather than communication, is the most fundamental aspect of language and that one must understand the nature of categorization before attempting to understand the purpose of language. Throughout his book, Ellis cites examples from the field of philosophy to support his linguistic theory, and he gives an enlightening description of Wittgenstein and Saussure's theories on the structure of categorization in language: Ellis explains that had Wittgenstein considered the function of categorization, rather than concentrating only on structure, one major element of fragmentation would have been eliminated; in addition, had Saussure examined the composition...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 192-194
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
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