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Assessing Student Writing: Examples, Tools & Methods

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  • 0:00 What is Assessment?
  • 2:20 Step One: Use a Rubric
  • 2:50 Step Two: Leave Comments
  • 4:15 Step Three: Stay Positive
  • 4:45 Step Four: Discuss Concerns
  • 5:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

When reviewing a student's essay, you should offer an assessment of the writing to help students develop as writers. In this lesson, we will review the tools and methods used to assess a student's paper.

What Is Assessment?

This is Mr. Smith, a new English instructor. He is preparing his class for their first writing assignment. After spending weeks working through the writing process with them, the students have now submitted their final drafts. He is ready to grade his first paper, but how can he do this successfully? How can Mr. Smith be sure that he is giving constructive feedback? What steps should he take to be sure he is assessing his students' writings correctly?

When grading a student's paper, an instructor is doing more than giving a grade. Mr. Smith is assessing, or gathering information about his students and their writing. Through their papers, he is able to see how his students are developing as writers and what changes he needs to make in his teaching. He is able to give his students feedback on their writing which is one the best ways a writer can grow.

In this lesson, we will discuss how you can assess your students' writings, including the steps you should take before, during, and after grading.

Preparing an Assignment

Before you begin to grade a paper, you first must provide a clear assignment to your students. Your students should know what their paper should include and the overall goal of the writing. As part of this, you should work through the whole writing process with them.

Assessment really begins in the first stage of writing. By working with your students in class, they will be able to see how they are progressing, what changes are needed, and how their paper will be evaluated when finished.

Let's go back to Mr. Smith for a minute. In his class, he is assigning the essay a narrative. As part of this assignment, he first discusses with the class exactly what a narrative includes, the topics from which they may choose, and what stages they should take to plan for the paper.

Next, he meets with each student one-on-one to see how the paper is progressing and offers any feedback, keeping his goal for the essay clear to the students. Finally, before he collects the final paper, he makes sure that each of the students has a copy of the rubric to be sure that he/she knows how the paper will be graded.

By taking these early steps, Mr. Smith is making sure that the students are prepared for assessment. The instructions for the assignment are clear. He meets with them to observe any progress and makes sure that a rubric is developed and followed.

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