Tips on How to Improve the Writing Assessment
In this article, we are going to briefly discuss the topic of a writing paper assessment. As we know, it refers to the evaluation of the students` papers, assigning the grades as well as assessing the students` knowledge of the elements of writing that the teachers have taught them. Assessment is considered to be an essential part of the instructional process.
Moreover, the assessment helps the students grow and develop as writers. Of course, this process requires quite much special knowledge and skills from the educators. But the point that is extremely crucial here is connected with the fact that learning the key strategies as well as advanced recommendations on how to carry out an assessment is valuable for the teachers. Thus, they can give useful feedback to the students.
Nevertheless, the teachers do not usually assess everything that the students write. The key purpose of the assessment of a writing paper is supposed to present helpful guidelines for the students` writing skills improvement. Purposeful writing generally requires a constructive response, which can significantly assist students while revising a particular paper and improving future performance.
Moreover, the students themselves are recommended to reflect on their writing as well as focus on the strategies that they apply during the writing process. It is a fact that well-developed writing skills can benefit not only when getting higher education, but also in any type of work. Good writing skills are appreciated.
Assessment as an Integral Part of the Educational Process
Depending on the discipline, there is a range of writing assignments that should be completed by students. So, the approaches and the forms of teaching, as well as evaluating writing, maybe various in this way. There can be laboratory reports, essays, annotated bibliographies, and many other types of writing tasks. In general, all the writing assignments are instrumental, particularly with the formation of the initiatives such as WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum), WID (Writing in the Disciplines), etc.
Sometimes the students may not receive enough writing training, as it is quite a complex process. There is always the increasing need for qualified writing instructors inside as well as outside the university. Teaching, as well as grading writing, should be naturally included in the learning process, as writing skills are a perfect tool for teaching and studying in class. This tool may come in handy not only while mastering the writing assignments at school, college, or university, but also benefit at the job market. It was estimated earlier that American corporations spend billions annually on writing training for the employees.
If a teacher has an opportunity to pursue coursework and training on composition pedagogy, it is great. Thus, you may deepen your knowledge, study new aspects, expanded areas of specific competencies, gain worthwhile experience, and develop useful professional skills.
Let us discuss several basic tips on how to effectively assess the writing tasks as well as encourage the students to write them, as we know; practice makes perfect. Please, note that this brief guideline is only for a general overview, as it does not comply with all specific requirements according to the types, format of the assessment, and many other aspects. Keep in mind that you should study this topic in detail and thoroughly check all the information. You may ask your colleagues for advice, if possible, too. Some common mistakes can be made while assessing the writing task so that you need to investigate and avoid these errors carefully.
Here below, you can find several basic tips for assessing writing work. Please, note that the following list is not an exhaustive one, so that you may find some other helpful ideas and recommendations.
All the requirements for the assignments should be clear and precise so that the students can follow them.
Keep the Criteria Focused
Writing is usually considered as one of the most complicated tasks that the students should complete. It includes everything from remembering, applying the grammar rules, planning, laying out the arguments to using and remembering the source information, etc. So, the process of writing is cognitively complex.
In this way, you may help the students by providing concrete criteria that the tasks will be assessed by. Briefly speaking, the assignment can be a little narrowed to a discrete list of tasks that might immensely simplify the process of writing as well as grading. The strategy of concentration on the major criteria works well.
Of course, you ought to let the students know about the errors on other things, which are not central criteria for a particular assignment.
It is important to Prioritize Feedback
If a teacher is not very experienced, it can be quite challenging to structure the process of assessment logically and conveniently. Marking every single typo as well as providing extensive notes on every element of the assignment is undoubtedly useful. However, it is quite overwhelming for teachers and students. So that the experienced instructors often advise focusing on getting concentrated on detailed feedback about 3-4 of the most crucial things which a student can do to improve his/her writing skills.
Such a tactic seems to be actionable and helps to focus on the following assignments (where you or another teacher can have a focus on other things).
It Is Useful to Refer to Resources
Explaining some grammatical rules in the margins of the papers, which are being graded, can be quite time-consuming and not always effective. If there are some patterns of mistakes (rather than for every typo or error), you may refer the students to helpful and credible resources that can be used for getting clear explanations as well as practice. It seems to be efficient, for example, when the students have got consistent problems with some aspects of grammar, etc., as not only commenting will there be, but also the opportunity to do several exercises on a difficult topic, observe the examples and so on.
The skill of using data resources and analyzing the information is extremely beneficial for the future career and life in general. By following these tips, a student may receive the teacher`s recommendations, practice a lot, and then in case of any unclear points, a teacher can explain something specific in detail.
Provide Several Appropriate Examples
To avoid misunderstanding of the requirements that are needed to perform by the students, it is recommended to give multiple examples of writing which conforms to and meets all the criteria of the particular assignment.
This action may encourage the students to start doing the task and to structure the requirements. Thus, the learners may be more sure that they know several suitable approaches as well as proper strategies so that they will be able to complete the task.
Every student is an individual; every group is different. So, different classes interpret information variously. One group may struggle with some themes, while another one has got difficulties with other topics. Some groups can find these particular topics easy and clear, and so on. The lesson plan can be elaborated, particularly taking into account the students` skills and background knowledge. The students` progress should be continuously checked.
The teacher may ask the students to work and practice on the most complex part of the task to check the students` current skills. In this way, the instructor can approximately find out what the most confusing steps are and, accordingly, try to adjust the teaching process as well as address it to the students` own needs.
Besides, there are some technologically advanced and creative forms of spending class time purposefully, such as, for instance, conducting live surveys or using classroom feedback applications, etc.
Draft as well as Redraft
So, it is really important to discover the students` feelings and thoughts about assignments progress. Besides, it is enormously helpful to get acquainted with the students` writing in advance, before the final due date. This can help respond to full drafts of the paper, paying attention to the key elements, chunks, and so on, for example, proofing an entry in the annotated bibliography, the thesis, etc.
Reading the students` drafts can significantly save time in the long term. The instructor can provide some early interventions- from minor suggestions to recommending the students focus on a different topic.
Responding to the drafts (even small sections of them) can help both the teacher and the student. They might understand whether they are on the same page as well as improve the quality of writing, decrease stress levels, and once again specify all the requirements in advance.
Responding to the Writers following their Individual Needs
The instructor`s response to the students` writing assignments has mainly got three key goals: to guide the revision of the current work, to provide feedback that students may use with the aim of the improvement of their future papers as well as to account for the grade that is assigned.
Show Students the Alternatives to Flawed Usage or Sentence Construction
It is usually no use saying that something is incorrect if a student does not have any ideas on how to do something right and improve some aspects.
Praise What the Students Do Well
It is a good tip to make specific comments and praise for good work. The students should know their strong sides. Thus, they may focus on them and, consequently, it will significantly help to progress and improve performance.
Avoid General, Vague Comments
As the requirements for the writing assignment should be comprehensible and clear, as also the comments should be understood as well. The students may interpret the phrase, for example, this sentence is “vague” or this paragraph “lacks focus,” etc. as the teacher`s subjective opinion and dismiss it. Specific comments and illustrations usually help to better clarify what the teacher would like to explain as well as to emphasize the other possible solutions. The teacher can write an example to explain the necessary points.
Respond like a Reader
It is recommended to provide honest and supportive feedback, not like a judge. Thus, the comments will be more descriptive. The students will be able to revise their paper and practice further.
Encourage the Students` Reflection
The students should reflect on the process, product as well as performance. They ought to provide a so-called brainstorm and think about the most successful ideas for writing, the most applicable strategies. The students may need to discuss their thoughts and concepts with the instructor. The process of reflection provides better insight and analysis. The successful paper should not become a coincidence; the student ought to progressively improve writing skills.
The students should reflect on all the stages of the writing process. Before writing, they should think about their personal development as writers, consider several specific areas as well as draw up the most efficient ways to achieve success in writing.
While writing, some supplementary questions may occur. So, a student may ponder some writing strategies, think about the ideas for a particular section of the paper, etc.
After the completion of the task, the students should reflect upon several aspects. So, the student ought to revise all the strategies that have been used in the text. Moreover, a student should focus on the performance and growth compared with some previous papers. The students can analyze their work and highlight strong and less strong points. They should reflect on their needs as readers, writers as well as thinkers on future tasks.
You should study this topic further in detail and check all the necessary information. You may clarify some points by asking your colleague, too. We hope that our brief guideline may come in handy when providing a writing assessment. Be inspired, and good luck to you!