Friday, September 7, 2012

“An Emerging Model for Student Feedback: Electronic Distributed Evaluation” by Beth Brunk-Chavez and Annette Arrigucci

Brunk-Chavez, Beth, and Annette Arrigucci.  “An Emerging Model for Student Feedback:  Electronic Distributed Evaluation.”  Composition Studies 40.1 (2012):  60-77.  Print.

A conflict usually exists in the conventional role of instructor.  One aspect of teaching is being a coach and guiding a student along her or his studies.  Another aspect, however, is being an umpire and evaluating the student’s work impartially.  Since the natural tendency of an instructor is to desire for students to do well, coupled typically with a bias to be recognized as a good instructor, instructors may evaluate students’ work less objectively than they should.  To combat this tendency and give students’ accurate feedback, which is believed to be more beneficial for students in the long term than giving them false feedback which inflates the sense of their capabilities beyond their actual limits (leading ultimately to frustration and, at times, failure), some colleges have looked into various means of separating out the coach and umpire roles of instruction.  One such college is Texas Tech University (TTU), and in “An Emerging Model for Student Feedback:  Electronic Distributed Evaluation,” authors Beth Brunk-Chavez and Annette Arrigucci explain how TTU’s redesign of its composition program included a reworking of how student work is assessed in one of their composition courses.

Called “electronic distributed evaluation,” TTU’s composition assessment involves students uploading their writing online where it will be graded by a trained grader who is not their classroom instructor (65).  The instructors, following the same core standards as the graders, coach and prepare the students for the evaluation by proving feedback on drafts of their writing (65).  Brunk-Chavez and Arrigucci argue that the results have been mainly beneficial, with instruction and grading becoming more cohesive across the entire program.  It also appears to have deflated grade inflation with the most common grade in the course now being a B rather than an A.  One might think that students might be upset at these changes, but, according to a survey, most students found the new grading fair.
While we do not have the same needs as TTU, which is a large university, instructors at Ursuline could adopt, if possible and desired, a similar approach.

The article is available in the writing instruction resources mini-library in the Ursuline Studies Program office (Mullen 318).