Department of English Language and Literature   SIUE
Rhetoric and Composition Studies

The Writing Program @ SIUE

Program Assessment

Prior to fall 2001, the Department of English Language and Literature at SIUE used the "Common Final" (a brief in-class essay exam, addressing a common reading, that was assessed by two or three other instructors in the Department of English) as a way to assess individual students' writing ability. This Common Final did not help the First-Year Writing Program (FYWP) determine strengths and weaknesses in the program itself -- only in students, who were already being assessed by their instructors. For these reasons, the FYWP discontinued the common final in academic year 2001-2002 and initiated the Pilot Project for English 101, which included a reading and assessment of a 101 portfolio. Over the years, the FYWP has modified the portfolio's requirements, included English 102 into the assessment program (through 102's essay with research), and revised the assessment procedures considerably. The current First-Year Writing assessment program is described in the files below.

For programmatic assessment purposes, the First-Year Writing Program Committee reviews portfolios for all English 101s and essays with research for all English 102s, for the following reasons:

  • Consistency in student learning and achievement. We strive to ensure that students who pass English 101 and 102 can all demonstrate similar writing competencies. This consistency is achieved on a number of levels. Teachers meet to discuss portfolios from across 101 sections and essays with research from across 102 sections in part to ensure that what happens in each 101/102 course meets the general expectations of the department and others who teach these courses at SIUE.
  • Validity in assessment of student writing practices. The portfolio/essays with research readings also ensure that as many viewpoints on student writing as possible are reasonably considered in the assessment of the course, and that these views help the Department to determine if the courses help students' writing to the point that it will allow them to succeed and the students' work reveals what help they may need now or later. The students' work, as assessed by individual instructors, helps students know that the kind and quality of writing they do in English 101/102 shows clear competency and ability to do other kinds of writing required later in academic and civic life.
  • Fairness and adequacy in assessment and grading practices. We also understand that particular teachers know their students' work and efforts throughout the semester and has deep insights into those students' writing. Each teacher, however, can always use help comparing and adequately assessing writing competencies and abilities against competencies practiced outside of a specific 101/102 section. Small groups of instructors read a random sampling of students' writing to maintain programmatic coherence and help to determine the First-Year Writing Program's degree of success.

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