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Closing the Assessment Loop: WAC Assessment Options and Strategies

February 21, 2020

The Young Man Writing

The AWAC Mentoring Committee is offering its second virtual workshop on WAC program development and leadership, “Closing the Assessment Loop: WAC Assessment Options and Strategies,” on Friday, February 21st from 1:00-2:00 U.S. EST on Zoom.

This virtual workshop offers descriptions of several WAC assessment practices that have been used successfully by two well-established WAC programs to “close the loop” for writing assessment. The presenters will speak for 30 minutes and leave 30 minutes for discussions and questions. Over the course of the discussion, other assessment models will be identified and pros and cons of each introduced.

Terry Myers Zawacki, emerita director of the George Mason University WAC program and currently a program consultant, and Tom Polk, interim WAC program director, will describe an ecological approach to both program and discipline-based writing assessment. Terry will describe the department-embedded writing assessment and other processes she developed in collaboration with the associate provost of institutional effectiveness with the goal of proving and improving WAC program effectiveness around faculty teaching-with-writing practices and students’ writing competence. Tom will describe surveys and interviews designed to understand faculty and student perceptions of writing instruction in designated WI courses. He and Terry will then explain current efforts to identify and synthesize the extensive existing institutional data related to student writing across the curriculum for the purpose of sustaining and re-visioning one of the first WAC programs in the country.

Jeff Galin, founding director of FAU’s WAC program, writing center, and community writing center, will briefly describe three sets of assessment practices: 1) Despite admonitions from some scholars in the field, there are ways to use common rubrics across disciplines for evaluating certain types of academic writing that provide useful and effective strategies for departments to establish benchmarks across traits, identify specific traits to target in a given year, and establish curricular interventions to foster improvement in both teaching and student writing. 2) Assessment within a WEC pilot program provides much more fine-grained assessment practices for participating departments. 3) WAC program self-assessment using sustainability indicators enables WAC programs to track their program’s long-term viability to anticipate program shifts and weaknesses.