Communication 100W Assessment Plan

We use assessment at the individual, the course, and the program level.

Individual level: To gain a sense of the expectations and writing habits that students bring with them into the class, we run a short, voluntary survey that assesses students’ attitudes toward writing, writing classes, and their own writing. We would like to revise this survey into a short writing assignment that would collect descriptive information about a student’s personal writing process (i.e., how often they proofread; how often they ask others to proofread their work). An embedded assignment would provide instructors with immediate information about the individuals in their classes while still providing us with a “big picture” perspective on students’ attitudes toward writing. This information would help instructors to tailor feedback to individual students, and (in aggregate form) would help us to develop course materials and assignments that reinforce steps in the writing process.

Course level: Each year we assess one of five learning objectives and each semester we collect quantitative and qualitative assessment data from every course. We compile this data in our annual report to the university. We also use our assessment reports and assessment meetings (held biannually) to troubleshoot problems with individual assignments and to share instructional ideas. As we move away from a standardized syllabus for COMM 100W, we plan to supplement our general meetings with small group meetings conducive to planning and course design. We hope to use those meetings in part to collect information about the “practice and feedback” component of the course, and to get a realistic sense of the time it takes instructors to engage students in meaningful revision of their work.

Program level: We offer upwards of fifteen sections of COMM 100W each semester. To ensure coherence and consistency across the program, we occasionally conduct program assessments in the form of workshops. At our last program workshop, we piloted a common rubric and assessed fifty student papers (blinded and assigned to reviewers at random). Our goal was to determine whether the rubric was versatile and detailed enough to use on different kinds of writing assignments. We would like to continue running these workshops, which familiarize instructors with the rubric and help us to calibrate our assessment practices.