Outcome 3 Details
Students communicate clearly and persuasively in various modes for various purposes and audiences.
This Learning Outcome is expressed in many forms, in which students gain the ability to:
- adapt typical modes of writing and speaking depending on purpose and audience
- listen and respond effectively in dialogue and discussion
- comprehend and analyze written, oral and other types of texts
- use credible evidence to argue persuasively
- understand and express ideas in more than one language
- communicate effectively in non-verbal modes
Students can gain these skills in a variety of ways:
- academic reading, writing and speaking assignments, especially in writing intensive and writing lab courses
- co-curricular activities such as debate, writing for campus publications, employment in jobs that require high level communication skills
- enrolling in foreign language courses, living in a language house, or studying abroad
- enrolling in fine arts courses or participating in ensembles or productions
- engage in disciplinary discourse in courses such as upper level seminars or MAPs
In phase one of the writing assessment, a set of paired (early and late), similar papers were collected from 12 Tutorials. Without knowledge of early vs late, or matching of papers, these were evaluated on six points by a team of Grinnell faculty, working under the guidance of nationally recognized writing assessment expert William Condon. Initial indications are that there are improvements in the quality of writing, although there is considerable variation in the degree of improvement. We will attempt to follow up on details of success based on assignments and classroom activities to identify practices to be emulated.
In phase two students whose papers were evaluated in phase one were asked to submit an argumentative essay drawing on primary and/or secondary sources. They also answered a series of questions about their evaluation of the paper they submitted, whether it represented their typical writing process and so on. In Spring of 2017 a group of faculty read and rated the essays using the rubric developed by faculty in phase one. Writing Lab staff analyzed and summarized the responses to the survey questions.
Groundwork for Phase 3 has been laid in the development of disciplinary learning outcomes; most departments have developed and agreed on writing outcomes for their majors. In Spring 2018 faculty will read seminar or capstone papers written by the same students whose papers were read in phases one and two. Project leaders intend to study the results of all three phases to determine whether and to what extent student writing improves over a student’s time at Grinnell. Further, we hope to be able to report to faculty about what kinds of assignments and instruction seem to support the effective teaching of writing.