Faculty Evaluation of Writing

WAC courses and the WS are not necessarily intended to teach writing directly, but to promote good writing by using it as an integral part of the content and strategy of the courses.

To achieve this, faculty must assign a certain quantity of writing, and must give some formal response, graded or ungraded, written or oral, which students can apply in subsequent writing assignments.

In providing feedback, faculty should be attentive to important aspects of the students’ written work, including genre, thesis, organization, logic and analysis, supporting evidence, and mechanics. These aspects are discussed in detail below.

Faculty must take into account students’ proficiency, effort, or progress in writing in determining final grades.

Providing Feedback

1. Genre: Students are often unfamiliar with the genres or types of writing experiences expected of them. Faculty can provide students with models for lab reports, poetry explications, essays, comparison/contrast papers, and other genres.

2. Thesis: Many students can recognize a good thesis statement but have difficulty formulating one of their own: some thesis statements are too true, partially or completely false, not unified, vague, overly ambitious, and so on. Faculty can provide model theses, have students underline their thesis statements, or go over drafts of introductions to point out difficulties or strengths in the theses.

3. Organization: Students benefit not only by knowing that organizational problems exist, but by receiving feedback about how such problems can be remedied. Faculty can provide suggestions for organizing both the assignment as a whole and individual paragraphs and sentences.

4. Logic and Analysis: Students may leave out steps in their analyses, may avoid proper subordinating words such as “because” or “since” in their argumentation, or may assume that the audience does not require more than a superficial explanation of an idea. Faculty can stress the importance of subordination, cause-and-effect, and adequate development of complex ideas.

5. Supporting Evidence: Students are required to cite evidence properly, whether such evidence comes from a literary text, a secondary source, or scientific observation. Although citation procedures differ from department to department, faculty can teach students to be consistent when citing evidence, can assign exercises that teach correct use of quotations, and can provide model essays, reports, or write-ups that use evidence correctly.

6. Mechanics: Faculty should encourage students to be attentive to grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling, and format.

- July 2002