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I N T E R C H A P T E R Assessment is always rhetorical. We typically think of our annual and/or assessment reports as highly political, value-laden documents and therefore important rhetorical texts. But Peggy O’Neill, Cindy Moore, and Brian Huot show us in A Guide to College Writing Assessment (2009) that devising and implementing an assessment are also important rhetorical activities: Those who experience success with assessment understand it as a rhetorical act, involving consideration of exigency, purpose, and audience. From a rhetorical standpoint, it becomes important to ask questions such as “What is motivating assessment at a particular moment?” and “What is the ultimate purpose or purposes in terms of teaching and learning?” . . . Also, because upper-level administrators may need to be convinced of the value of a particular assessment and/or the relevance of the data, WPAs [writing program administrators] and faculty benefit from asking questions about this particular audience—questions about their disciplinary backgrounds, for example, their beliefs about teaching and learning, and their perceptions of assessment. Even understanding administrative preferences for how data should be analyzed and reported can be essential in ensuring the ultimate success of an assessment . (11) Chapters 1–4 of this book were written with this rhetorical context of assessment in mind. Indeed, determining values, devising outcomes from them, and then determining appropriate methods for answering those outcomes, while integrating assessment into the life of your center, are at the heart of doing good assessment —and acknowledging that assessment is a powerful rhetorical act. In what follows, respected researcher and assessment scholar Neal Lerner asks readers to consider an external audience’s needs and values in determining the specific kinds of data to collect. Choosing to collect quantitative or qualitative data—or both—is a rhetorical strategy that can help you to communicate with external audiences who may have very different assessment needs (and understandings ). Lerner’s essay on choosing which kind of data to collect is framed within a rhetorical analysis of the assessment report audience. Chapter 5 continues this discussion by discussing the kinds of choices you might make about specific data collection strategies—as well as strategies for connecting assessment in meaningful ways to the other work within your center. Chapter 6 gives rhetorical Interchapter    107 strategies for maximizing the usefulness of assessment reports by communicating effectively with audience(s) who may have ideas about assessment that are different from your own, and who may not know much about the writing center’s work. O f N umbers and S to ries Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment Research in the Writing Center Neal Lerner Consider this scenario: A new dean has arrived on your campus from another institution, a dean with ultimate authority over your writing center budget. In your first meeting, she tells you that the writing center at her previous college did wonderful, terrific work. You feel yourself relax a bit, as much as might be possible in a first meeting with an academic administrator in a position of great power over you. Then the new dean follows up with how pleased she was that the writing center director (WCD) at her last institution had a firm grasp of the evidence for the effectiveness of that center, represented by a tidy annual report filled with an informative table and a neat bar chart that would always nicely summarize the year’s work and offer direct evidence that the writing center was meeting its goals and justify continued—if not increased— funding. The new dean closes the conversation by expressing the wish and expectation that you, too, will offer such evidence that your writing center is a smashing success. Next year’s budget numbers are due soon. You make your way back to your office, situated in a corner of the writing center, which, as usual, is a hub of activity. Perhaps you can then make a few clicks of your mouse and call up the data—the numbers of students who visit your center and from where, the end-of-session surveys that students fill out, the comparison you’ve done between students ’ grades who visit the center versus the grades of students who do not. You, too, then, will create a tidy report for the new dean and offer a convincing argument for your slice of the budget pie. Or perhaps, instead, you listen to the hubbub around you—the laughter as a student shares a draft of a personal essay...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780874218343
Related ISBN
9780874218169
MARC Record
OCLC
808375872
Pages
200
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-21
Language
English
Open Access
No
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