The Writing Program asks that faculty evaluate the writing of all students periodically throughout a student’s CC career. Writing Evaluations stand separate from a student’s course grade and are not part of a student’s official transcript. Through Writing Evaluations, we identify both students who need to develop better writing skills and outstanding writers who might serve as peer consultants for our Writing Center. Writing Evaluations also serve as institutional assessment, allowing the college to monitor the writing of students across the curriculum. Faculty completing Writing Evaluations offer an overall assessment of a student's writing in a given course: excellent, good, acceptable, or inadequate. Holistic evaluation of a student’s writing is based on performance in three categories - quality of thought, rhetorical sophistication, and mechanics. If a student receives two less-than-acceptable evaluations, the Writing Program Director sends a personal letter to the student's academic adviser and to the student prior to spring pre-registration. Students and advisers then determine if the student might benefit from enrollment in a Writing Intensive course, an extended format or writing adjunct course, or regular Writing Center use. Students receiving a single less-than-acceptable Writing Evaluation during FYE will be notified in regard prior to spring semester.
Criteria driving writing assessment will vary both across and within disciplines—this is to be expected and anticipated in all college-level work. But certain generic features characterize almost all academic writing, and assessment of these features combine (in not always neat or quantifiable ways) in evaluation of written performance. The three categories we ask faculty to consider in arriving at a holistic assessment include:
Quality of Thought -- This category focuses on development of ideas and includes the writer's use of the following: topic focus; thesis/argument; organization and development or ideas; logic; coherence; unity; evidence/support; analysis; conclusions.
Rhetorical Sophistication -- This category focuses on style and includes the writer's use of the following: polish; flow; transitions; clarity; brevity; tone; originality; flair; word choice; voice (appropriate use of active and passive voice); integrating sources/quotes; audience analysis; placement of information; visual rhetoric (graphs and figures).
Mechanics -- This category focuses primarily on grammar and syntax; it includes the writer's use of the following: appropriate/required format; sentence structure; grammar; usage; punctuation; bibliography/citation form (when required).
Guided by consideration of issues noted above, faculty are invited to offer an overall evaluation of a student's writing in a given course. Suggested guidelines for assigning a holistic assessment follow:
Excellent: Outstanding work. The student writes as well as the top 10% of CC students. The writer's argument or point is clear, focused, and coherent. She/he establishes context, purpose, and point of view. Paragraphs are logical, coherent, unified, and developed with appropriate evidence. The writer displays a clear understanding of audience, defines and elaborates on general or abstract terms, and explains essential concepts. She/he incorporates source material meaningfully and effectively, employs clear sentence structure and idiomatic English, and has control over grammar and diction. There are no significant mechanical errors.
Good: Solid work. The student's writing is more than competent but not quite all together yet. The writer consistently has an argument or makes a point, but her/his arguments may not be as compelling as those of the excellent writer. Paragraphs develop the main idea without significant lapses in coherence of argument, clarity of the presentation of information, or organization of ideas. The writer develops her/his point with evidence or examples, though these may lack the depth, detail, or dynamics of the best student writing. Writing displays evidence of consideration of audience and context and an understanding of how to effectively utilize and incorporate other texts. The writer uses clear, fluent and generally idiomatic English, though sentence structure (in simplicity or complexity) may not always reflect the logical relationships of its discrete parts. The writing displays evidence of editing and control over grammar and diction. There may be minor mechanical errors or repetition of a single error.
Acceptable: Average work. The student writes well enough to communicate and will not embarrass herself/himself in the outside world. The writer has a focus for her/his writing and usually uses appropriate evidence to support her/his points. However, main ideas may be simplistic or the analysis underdeveloped, displaying few examples and a weak sense of audience. The writer may not grasp completely the concepts she/he is discussing. Organization may be repetitious or random; individual paragraphs may not consistently develop a unified idea. The writer has adequate control of sentence structure, grammar, and diction, but writing displays many features of a rough draft. There may be a pattern of mechanical errors that suggests the writer needs to edit her/his work more carefully.
Inadequate: Insufficiently coherent work. The writer has trouble establishing context, purpose, or point of view. She/he may not have a clear main idea or may attempt to present too many unrelated, general ideas. Individual paragraphs are fragmented; there are few real connections between paragraphs. The writer uses virtually no evidence to support her/his ideas. Individual sentences may be short and choppy, long and incoherent, or even incomplete. The writer has poor control of sentence structure, grammar, and diction. Her/his word choice is unidiomatic. Mechanical errors frequently abound.