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y cant they rite?: Integrating Writing Assessment Across the Undergraduate Political Science Major
Unformatted Document Text:  the substantive content of the rubric and for other sorts of grading rubrics that might offer a useful format design. We identified six characteristics that broadly encompassed the expectations our faculty agreed were common for almost any written assignment: 1. Follows Directions2. Thesis3. Use of Evidence4. Analysis, Logic and Argumentation5. Organization6. Mechanics We attempted to provide guidelines which are clear, consistent, understandable and achievable. To that end, we included detailed descriptions of A, B, C, D, and U level work in each of the six categories (See Appendix 2A and 2.B). We have also attempted to create a rubric that is flexible enough to have general applicability regardless of course, level, or type of assignment. Moreover, although we wanted the rubric to contain common elements all the faculty could agree were necessary in almost any writing assignment, we also wanted the rubric to be adaptable for faculty such that elements could be added or removed, or points allocated differently, according to a particular course or assignment’s needs. Thus, we included specific language notifying students that “Faculty may adapt, adding or removing characteristics and/or re-weighting components, as appropriate for individual assignments.” (See Appendix 2.A and 2.B). Writing Focused Curriculum The designation of writing intensive courses in the curriculum was an important part of our assessment process. We deliberately created the Orientation and Capstone courses as bookends for the major, providing us with an opportunity to initialize and finalize the student portfolios as well as ingrain in students the values embodied in the expected learning outcomes for the major. Including both of these courses as Writing Intensive (WI) courses for the student portfolio provided the perfect opportunity to capture each student’s “before” and “after” work in the major, giving us a vivid snapshot of their progress from beginning to end. The required Research Methods course was also an obvious choice as a writing intensive course, providing students with their most rigorous research and writing task in the major and, for many, a foundation for their senior thesis project. Finally, we decided to include one WI course from each of the two concentration areas required in the new major, reinforcing the importance of strong writing skills across the discipline’s subfields and across the student’s particular disciplinary interests. Thus, every Political Science major at FHSU will have at least one WI assignment (accompanied by its grading rubric) from the Orientation, Capstone and Research Methods courses. Each student in the major will also have a WI assignment/graded rubric for each of their concentration areas, but because students may choose any two from the eight available concentration areas, the combination of WI concentration contents will vary from portfolio to portfolio. Note, again, that there is no attempt to include every writing assignment a Mills and Bennett (FHSU) Page 8 February 2008

Authors: Mills, Shala.
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the substantive content of the rubric and for other sorts of grading rubrics that might offer a
useful format design.
We identified six characteristics that broadly encompassed the expectations our faculty agreed
were common for almost any written assignment:
1. Follows Directions
2. Thesis
3. Use of Evidence
4. Analysis, Logic and Argumentation
5. Organization
6. Mechanics
We attempted to provide guidelines which are clear, consistent, understandable and achievable.
To that end, we included detailed descriptions of A, B, C, D, and U level work in each of the six
categories (See Appendix 2A and 2.B).
We have also attempted to create a rubric that is flexible enough to have general applicability
regardless of course, level, or type of assignment. Moreover, although we wanted the rubric to
contain common elements all the faculty could agree were necessary in almost any writing
assignment, we also wanted the rubric to be adaptable for faculty such that elements could be
added or removed, or points allocated differently, according to a particular course or
assignment’s needs. Thus, we included specific language notifying students that “Faculty may
adapt, adding or removing characteristics and/or re-weighting components, as appropriate for
individual assignments.” (See Appendix 2.A and 2.B).
Writing Focused Curriculum
The designation of writing intensive courses in the curriculum was an important part of our
assessment process. We deliberately created the Orientation and Capstone courses as bookends
for the major, providing us with an opportunity to initialize and finalize the student portfolios as
well as ingrain in students the values embodied in the expected learning outcomes for the major.
Including both of these courses as Writing Intensive (WI) courses for the student portfolio
provided the perfect opportunity to capture each student’s “before” and “after” work in the
major, giving us a vivid snapshot of their progress from beginning to end. The required
Research Methods course was also an obvious choice as a writing intensive course, providing
students with their most rigorous research and writing task in the major and, for many, a
foundation for their senior thesis project. Finally, we decided to include one WI course from
each of the two concentration areas required in the new major, reinforcing the importance of
strong writing skills across the discipline’s subfields and across the student’s particular
disciplinary interests. Thus, every Political Science major at FHSU will have at least one WI
assignment (accompanied by its grading rubric) from the Orientation, Capstone and Research
Methods courses. Each student in the major will also have a WI assignment/graded rubric for
each of their concentration areas, but because students may choose any two from the eight
available concentration areas, the combination of WI concentration contents will vary from
portfolio to portfolio. Note, again, that there is no attempt to include every writing assignment a
Mills and Bennett (FHSU)
Page 8
February 2008


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