Writing Assessment

The WAC Program has been engaged in various levels of assessment since its inception in 2008. We began with a baseline assessment of both RC 1000 and the piloted RC 2001. With the new General Education Curriculum and the Vertical Writing Model about to be launched, we wanted to know our students' strengths and weaknesses before the curriculum changed. Since that first assessment of student portfolios, we assessed them annually from 2008 until 2018, providing the first direct writing assessment to Gen Ed in at least 20 years. Our rubrics evolved to become more meaningful as well.

We also developed internal assessments for WAC staff, including follow-up evaluations for WID faculty consultataions and class visits, participant evaluations of workshops and presentations, and annual reports by and evaluations of consultants by the director for the Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs.

The WAC Program and Gen Ed created a structure for direct writing assessment, guided by Sherry Alusow Hart.* WAC began work on writing assessment in 2009, helping RC to create an assessment plan. The following timeline offers a brief description of our assessment practices and development over time:

  • In spring 2009, WAC consultants created rubrics for writing with sources and for reflection, applied these rubrics to portfolio readings, and provided information to Gen Ed and RC, offering a faculty development workshop to RC about the findings, and then revising these rubrics based on the study.
  • In 2009 and 2010, WAC consultants participated in the Gen Ed Barbara Walvoord symposium and evaluated the AAC&U rubric for writing courses. WAC consultants then applied the AAC&U rubric in two readings for Gen Ed, providing analysis of the rubric's efficacy and feedback to RC.
  • WAC also compared the AAC&U rubric with its own and offered analysis to Gen Ed and RC this year.
  • In 2012, WAC laid the groundwork for WID course assessment, conducting a syllabi inventory of all programs in preparation for faculty development and developing a metarubric as a guide for disciplines to adapt for WID courses.
  • Since 2013, WAC has conducted indirect assessment of writing through surveys of students and faculty.
  • In 2016, WAC piloted a rubric on reflection, testing it on 47 Digication portfolios from RC 1000 and RC 2001 courses. Following the pilot, WAC consultants spent a year researching the relationship between metacognition and knowledge transfer, longitudinal assessment, and the use of reflection to support disciplinary writing practice. 
  • In 2017, WAC began a longitudinal study of reflection in student writing across the Vertical Writing Curriculum. The first set of 100 portfolios from RC 1000 and RC 2001 were read and scored in 2018. The full report is available here.
  • In 2019, WAC completed the second half of the original longitudinal study, which covered readings of WID and capstone course reflective artifacts using an expanded rubric. The full report is available here.
  • In 2020, we revised both our methodology and reflection rubric and tried the longitudinal study again. The full report is available here.
  • During her tenure as assessment director of WAC, Sherry Alusow Hart developed an argumentation rubric for courses across the curriculum [Google Doc], a metarubric [Google Doc], which is a suggested rubric based on the shared outcomes from the original Gen Ed list to be adapted by programs interested in a general rubric for writing assessment, and a guide to help faculty create their own rubrics for writing assessment [Google Doc]. 

*Dr. Sherry Alusow Hart, assessment director of WAC from 2008-2019, conducted a series of assessments of writing at the university and has presented her scholarship at CCCC, the Watson Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, Writing Across Institutions, and the Quinnipac University Conference on Critical Thinking and Writing.  She is a former president of the Tennessee Philological Association.