A Plan for Assessment of Writing

Institution: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (the College)

Type of Writing Program: Vertical writing program includes opportunities in first year writing and first year seminar, as well as mid-level and upper-level writing-rich courses in the disciplines and involvement in co-curricular programs connected to writing.

Contact information: Peggy Johnson, PhD
Director, Office of College Writing
pjohnson@smumn.edu

Overarching Assessment Research Question: How can assessment methods help modify writing opportunities to achieve Saint Mary’s institutional writing goals?

Institutional Writing Goals

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  1. Consider audience and purpose
  2. Use evidence effectively
  3. Apply critical reasoning and creativity
  4. Choose appropriate language and style
  5. Follow the conventions of a particular discipline

Best practices inform this plan for assessing writing in the following ways:

  • An emphasis on diversity: Assessment methods are appropriate, fair, valid, and reliable, and they consider the range of needs of student learners.
  • A clarification of purpose: Assessment methods are used for the development of teaching and learning and not solely to meet outcomes for accreditation, nor are assessment methods used to evaluate instructors.
  • A statement of ethics: Assessment methods are responsive to the diversity of student writers at Saint Mary’s. A range of ethical assessment methods, including classroom assessment and student agency, are used to ensure students are not disadvantaged.
  • A focus on opportunity: Assessment methods promote ways to advance learning for all stakeholders involved in teaching writing.

*This plan for assessing writing, which encourages both low stakes and high stakes writing experiences, is locally designed and implemented, is performance-based, and is directly tied to improving teaching practice.

* This plan is not intended to address every goal for every student every semester; rather, the intention of this plan is to use data from a sample of students on a rotating basis to address assessment of institutional goals.

Writing Experience by level First Year Writing in the first year experience Anchor Course in the first year experience Mid-level writing-rich disciplinary course Upper-level writing-rich disciplinary course Inter-disciplinary Minor (??) Co-curricular programs connected to writing
Description of writing opportunity Introductory college writing tasks Introductory disciplinary writing experience Sequenced writing assignments Sustained writing & research assignment Collaborative writing project Skills applied to the larger community setting
Targeted learning outcome for each level will rotate based on institutional goals
Data Collection Instructor collects samples of student writing OCW collects writing assignments with faculty permission Instructor collects samples of student writing Instructor collects samples of student writing Instructor collects samples of student writing OCW collects data via surveys of program participants
Data Analysis Analysis based on targeeted learning outcome Analyze how disciplinary writing is introduced Analysis based on targeted learning outcome Analysis based on targeted learning outcome Analysis based on targeted learning outcome Analyze participants’ growth in interpersonal skills
Large scale sharing of data findings Information presented to stakeholders, initiating discussion OCW presents information to stakeholders, initiating discussion Information presented to stakeholders, initiating discussion Information presented to stakeholders, initiating discussion Information presented to stakeholders, initiating discussion Information presented to WAG, initiating discussion
Large scale stakeholder brainstorming of data findings and selection of strategies for improvement (feedback loop)
Implementation of new strategies (closing the loop)
Teaching and Learning Process: Faculty development opportunities at each level
Large scale celebration of new knowledge