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  • Helping Students Learn How to Fix Their Own Errors
    processing programs and don t recognize the problem so they ignore the flag You can help students become better at final preparation of their papers just by pointing out that those flags are worth attending to Even more important students often don t spend time editing and proofreading because they don t understand where these processes fit into the overall process of drafting and revising a paper They sometimes edit too early before a draft is even complete and then assume that all their editing is finished Or they sometimes leave themselves no time for editing and hand in the paper hot off the printer Here are some simple strategies to help encourage students to take editing more seriously Encourage students to develop a fuller sense of what they need to edit and proofread for Over time collect a list of the most common student errors you see in papers Include one sample of the problem sentence and a workable revision of the sentence Such lists can be posted on a class webpage or put on an overhead a week or so before the paper due date Assign our writing guide on the Online Writing Center Editing and Proofreading Strategies http writing colostate edu guides processes editing index cfm About a week before the paper is due put a short version of the above guide on the overhead projector Assign a due date for the paper Have students bring what they believe is the final draft to class Ask students to exchange papers and proofread marking all grammatical errors typos and instances of your common errors on the draft After students get their own paper back tell students that you will collect both the version now in their hands and a corrected reprinted version of the paper at the next

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/commenting/errors.cfm (2015-10-15)
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  • Finding Resources in your Discipline -- Starting Points for Commenting on Student Writing
    Finding Resources in your Discipline Starting Points for Commenting on Student Writing Although there are typically dozens of articles in every discipline that consider writing and ways to integrate writing into disciplinary courses relatively few take up issues of commenting on student work The citations in these sections include at least some material about evaluating student writing Despite the disciplinary labels many of the listed articles give advice pertinent for

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/commenting/discipline.cfm (2015-10-15)
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  • Print-Friendly Page
    that one of the things we must consider is that writing on papers or exams is not primarily a matter of assessment but one of the integral components of teaching If I want to teach an appreciation of philosophy in my freshman level course writing is one of the most important things I do Grading isn t a joy But it is easier to take on because I see it as a way of teaching making me more self conscious about setting up the assignment and commenting on their papers Insights Into The Commenting Process Read all the papers through once without marking at all to get a sense of how everyone did on the assignment Slap sticky notes on each paper after you read it for the first time indicating your gut feelings on the grade and why you d give it that grade B good focus unity coherence some problems in development but not major D serious problems in focus unity coherence etc Plan your schedule so you read and final grade no more than 5 6 in a row Read each essay through another time without marking have a sheet handy with Strengths Weaknesses columns Write end notes based on strengths weaknesses then go back and indicate in margins parts that are strong and parts that are weak Grade a handful take one or two graded essays and bury them in the huge pile of not yet graded as a delightful surprise reward for later Time Saving Tips Come up with an end note formula that works for you i e open with a positive statement point out one or two major problems then close with a where to go from here comment This formula will help you save time and achieve consistency from student to student Post a list of what you are planning to comment on in any given essay assignment As much as possible excluding glaring problems that need to be addressed stick only to the criteria on the list Set a time limit for each essay Again excluding serious problems try to at least average out on target for your time frame Don t rewrite student sentences to give them examples of how to be more descriptive concise etc It takes too much time and they hand in revisions with your comments taken like Bible and too often the rest remains the same Don t let awkward sentences grammatical and mechanical errors etc become too distracting look for major strengths and weaknesses Commenting on Drafts Rather Than Final Products Commenting happens on drafts as well as on final products The best commenting takes account of where students are in their drafting revising process and is an opportunity to actively continue the teaching process A combination of notes both in the margins and at the end of students papers gives students both big picture feedback about what works well in the paper and specific pointers about where to concentrate their attention as they proceed with the next draft or the next assignment Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Begin Insight from a Colleague Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Begin What is your purpose in providing comments at this stage in the drafting process How can you use this opportunity to help writers further understand the goals of the assignment Which rhetorical concerns are most important to emphasize with the writer at this stage audience publication context visual layout Should the writer be considering audience purpose credibility or working toward a stronger sense of style Consider how your comments might inspire focused revision How can your comments be constructed to offer both support for the current draft and suggestions for revision How many comments will the writer be able to address before the next deadline Insight from a Colleague In her commenting on the student writing project Alicia Cook in Human Development focuses as much as possible on ways to help students continue developing skills for lifelong learning Structure and sequence is key She meets with groups as they begin to develop their proposal and she spends more time on drafts than on final projects She also notes that helping students see themselves as professionals and assigning relevant writing tasks for their professional activities in the future helps students make this leap from student to professional As she puts it When students see the relevance of writing it takes on a life of its own Rubrics for Commenting and Grading Although rubrics cannot substitute completely for individualized commentary in the margins and at the end of papers they can save enough time to allow teachers who might not otherwise assign writing to do so And simply by writing more students do improve over time Like any other physical and cognitive skill practice with writing does improve performance over time So if a rubric will allow you to have students write then by all means use a rubric You ll find however that a carefully designed rubric will give you much more payback for time invested than a rubric that isn t as detailed or as clearly articulated The following sections define the key components of rubrics and collect advice from various sources about the best ways to develop effective rubrics What Makes an Effective Rubric The most effective rubrics lay out three kinds of information for students the key evaluative criteria defined as concretely as possible an evaluative range for each criterion so that students can see where they succeeded or not for each criterion and weightings for each criterion Rubrics typically are set up as tables with criteria running down the left side of the table and the evaluative scale running across the table Teachers sometimes leave the right most block on each line of the grid for handwritten comments or for a score for the criterion Many teachers also choose to write a very brief individual comment below the grid as a summation of the key points for students to attend to or to praise students for success on the assignment We include several examples of typical rubrics in the following sections Rubric for Conducting an Experiment in the Lab From Stevens D D Levi A J 2005 Introduction to Rubrics An assessment tool to save grading time convey effective feedback and promote student learning Sterling VA Stylus Publishing pp 96 97 Task description Conduct the assigned lab using the procedures and methods described below Turn in your laboratory report at the beginning of the next class period Exemplary Competent Needs Work Materials All materials needed are present and entered on the lab report The materials are appropriate for the procedure The student is not wasteful of the materials All materials needed are present but not all are entered on the lab report or some materials are absent and must be obtained during the procedure The materials are appropriate for the procedure All materials needed are not present and are not entered on the lab report The materials are not all appropriate for the procedure or there are some major omissions Procedure The procedure is well designed and allows control of all variables selected All stages of the procedure are entered on the lab report The procedure could be more efficiently designed but it allows control of all variables selected Most stages of the procedure are entered on the lab report The procedure does not allow control of all variables selected Many stages of the procedure are not entered on the lab report Courtesy and safety While conducting the procedure the student is tidy respectful of others mindful of safety and leaves the area clean While conducting the procedure the student is mostly tidy sometimes respectful of others sometimes mindful of safety and leaves the area clean only after being reminded While conducting the procedure the student is untidy not respectful of others not mindful of safety and leaves the area messy even after being reminded Purpose Research question and hypothesis are stated clearly and the relationship between the two is clear The variables are selected Research question and hypothesis are stated but one or both are not as clear as they might be or the relationship between the two is unclear The variables are selected Research question and hypothesis are not stated clearly and the relationship between the two is unclear or absent The variables are not selected Data collection Raw data including units are recorded in a way that is appropriate and clear The title of the data table is included Raw data including units are recorded although not as clearly or appropriately as they might be The title of the data table is included Raw data including units are not recorded in a way that is appropriate and clear The title of the data table is not included Data analysis Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that best facilitate understanding and interpretation Error analysis is included Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that can be understood and interpreted although not as clearly as they might be Error analysis is included Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that are very unclear Error analysis is not included Evaluation of experiment The results are fully interpreted and compared with literature values The limitations and weaknesses are discussed and suggestions are made as to how to limit or eliminate them The results are interpreted and compared with literature values but not as fully as they might be The limitations and weaknesses are discussed but few or no suggestions are made as to how to limit or eliminate them The results are not interpreted in a logical way or compared with literature values The limitations and weaknesses are not discussed nor are suggestions made as to how to limit or eliminate them Grading Rubric for Metamorphosis Paper From Stevens D D Levi A J 2005 Introcution to Rubrics An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time and Convey Effective Feedback and Promote Student Learning Sterling VA Stylus Publishing pp 70 71 Task description Write a research paper about a person institution or movement that has created or sought to create significant change High mastery Average mastery Low mastery Communication An inviting introduction draws the reader in a satisfying conclusion leaves the reader with a sense of closure and resolution The paper has a recognizable introduction and conclusion but the introduction may not create a strong sense of anticipation or the conclusion may not tie the paper into a coherent whole There is no real lead in to set up what follows and no real conclusion to wrap things up There is a clear thesis There is a thesis but it is ambiguous or unfocused There is no clear thesis Transitions are thoughtful and clearly show how ideas connect Transitions often work well but some leave connections between ideas fuzzy Connections between ideas are often confusing or missing Uses an appropriate variety of sources which are well integrated and support the author s points Sources generally support the author s points but more or a greater variety need to be cited Citations are infrequent or often seem to fail to support the author s points Quotations paraphrases and summaries are used and cited appropriately Quotations paraphrases and summaries generally work but occasionally interfere with the flow of the writing seem irrelevant or are incorrectly cited Quotations paraphrases and summaries tend to break the flow of the piece become monotonous don t seem to fit or are not cited Uses the proper format APA MLA etc Uses the proper format but there are occasional errors Frequent errors in format or incorrect format used Sequencing is logical and effective Sequencing shows some logic but it is not under complete control and may be so predictable that the reader finds it distracting Sequencing seems illogical disjointed or forced Punctuation is accurate even creative and guides the reader effectively through the text End punctuation is correct but internal punctuation is sometimes missing or wrong Punctuation is often missing or incorrect including terminal punctuation Grammar and usage contribute to the clarity conventions if manipulated for stylistic effect work There are problems with grammar or usage but they are not serious enough to distort meaning Errors in grammar or usage are frequent enough to become distracting and interfere with meaning Voice and style are appropriate for the type of paper assigned Voice and style don t quite fit with the type of paper assigned Voice and style are not appropriate for the type of paper assigned Paragraphs are well focused and coherent Paragraphs occasionally lack focus or coherence Paragraphs generally lack focus or coherence Critical Thinking The paper displays insight and originality of thought There are some original ideas but many seem obvious or elementary There are few original ideas most seem obvious or elementary There is sound and logical analysis that reveals clear understanding of the relevant issues Analysis is generally sound but there are lapses in logic or understanding Analysis is superficial or illogical the author seems to struggle to understand the relevant issues There is an appropriate balance of factual reporting interpretation and analysis and personal opinion The balance between factual reporting interpretation and analysis and personal opinion seems skewed There is a clear imbalance between factual reporting interpretation and analysis and personal opinion The author goes beyond the obvious in constructing interpretation of the facts Paper shows understanding of relevant issues but lacks depth Author appears to misunderstand or omit key issues Telling and accurate details are used to reinforce the author s arguments Generally accurate details are included but the reader is left with questions more information is needed to fill in the blanks There are few details or most details seem irrelevant The paper is convincing and satisfying The paper leaves the reader vaguely skeptical and unsatisfied The paper leaves the reader unconvinced Content The paper addresses a topic within the context of promoting personal social cultural political or paradigmatic change The paper addresses a topic within the context of promoting personal social cultural political or paradigmatic change The paper needs to be substantially more closely related to promoting personal social cultural political or paradigmatic change The paper is complete and leaves no important aspect of the topic not addressed The paper is substantially complete but more than one important aspect of the topic is not addressed The paper is clearly incomplete with many important aspects of the topic left out The author has a good grasp of what is known what is generally accepted and what is yet to be discovered The author has a good grasp of the relevant information but fails to distinguish between what is known what is generally accepted and what is yet to be discovered The author has a poor grasp of the relevant information Appropriate significance is assigned to the information presented and irrelevant information is rarely included The paper often uses information in a way inappropriate to its significance or includes much irrelevant information The paper frequently uses information inappropriately or uses irrelevant information Connections between the topic of the paper and related topics are made that enhance understanding Few connections are made to related topics No connections are made to related topics to help clarify the information presented Specialized terminology if used is used correctly and precisely Specialized terminology is sometimes incorrectly or imprecisely used Specialized terminology is frequently misused The author seems to be writing from personal knowledge or experience The author seems to be writing from knowledge or experience but has difficulty going from general observations to specifics The work seems to be a simple restatement of the assignment or a simple overly broad answer to a question with little evidence of expertise on the part of the author Scoring Rubric for Projects Consulting Style Reports and Reports on Technical Topics From Jon A Leydens and Paul Santi Optimizing Faculty Use of Writing as a Learning Tool in Geoscience Education in press The Journal of Geoscience Education Objective 1 Exemplary 2 Proficient 3 Apprentice 4 Novice Format layout organization Report tells a very clear coherent story with excellent transitions Report is clear and tells a coherent story strong throughout Report has some gaps in story some weak sections Report is poorly organized missing key sections Writing mechanics Report is virtually error free and contains few if any reader distractions Report is logical and easy to read and may contain a few errors causing minimal reader distraction Report is generally clear but distracting errors and flow make it difficult to follow at times Report contains many distracting mistakes making it generally difficult to follow Persuasive writing Every idea or conclusion is logically supported by relevant facts and includes judgment of the reliability of data Every idea or conclusion is logically supported by relevant facts Relates ideas and conclusions to facts or concepts taught as fact Opinion and fact not clearly separated Basis for opinions is unclear at times Figures Tables All figures and tables are easy to understand and are clearly linked to the text Story can be told almost entirely through figures All figures and tables can be understood with information given and are linked to text One or more need improvement May need more figures to tell the story Figures and or tables are hard to understand are not all linked to text Several need improvement Several more figures are needed to tell story Figures are hard to understand and are not adequate to advance the story Tables are not useable as presented References All sources identified and referenced appropriately Evidence of careful and thorough research for outside information All sources identified and referenced appropriately Includes mostly readily available works All sources identified Only readily available works included Some weaknesses in referencing such as missing publisher information Sources not identified not sufficiently thorough not referenced properly or not used Typical Grade average 92 95 93 87 91 90 83 86 84 76 82 78 The Differences between Rubrics for Holistic Scoring and for Analytic Response Depending on your goals as you evaluate papers you ll want to consider whether to assign a holistic score to a paper or to analyze specific elements of students writing to give more detailed response In brief holistic scoring gives students a single overall assessment score for the paper as a whole Analytic scoring provides students with at least a rating score for each criterion though often the rubric for analytic scoring offers teachers enough room to provide some feedback on each criterion Holistic Scoring in More Detail As previously noted holistic scoring gives students a single overall assessment score for the paper as a whole Although the scoring rubric for holistic scoring will lay out specific criteria just as the rubric for analytic scoring does readers do not assign a score for each criterion in holistic scoring Rather as they read they balance strengths and weaknesses among the various criteria to arrive at an overall assessment of success or effectiveness of a paper The CSU composition placement exam administered from 1977 2004 and then replaced by the Composition Challenge Exam for a smaller number of students relied for many years on a 9 point scale for overall assessment Although the composition program now uses a 6 point scale the rubric functions in much the same way Notice that the four key criteria are defined most concretely for upper range papers Deficits from the most effective demonstration of the criteria characterize the mid range and lower range papers A reader writes nothing on the paper itself and assigns the holistic score after reading the paper carefully and completely A second reader who does not see the first score independently reads and assigns a second holistic score If the two scores differ by more than 2 points then a third reader scores the paper as well Inter rater reliability the percentage of papers given the same score or differing by one point should fall between 85 and 90 for sound holistic scoring Readers who read the same kinds of papers regularly including students in a large class can easily be trained to reach acceptable inter rater reliability scores AP exams and the SAT II writing test both use holistic scoring to assess student writing skills CSU Composition Exam Grading Guide 9 8 The upper range responses satisfy the following criteria Summary The summary should identify and distinguish between Sulloway s birth order thesis and Devlin s disagreement with Sulloway It should note some of the reasons why Devlin disagrees with Sulloway e g unscientific illogical subjective and or not very useful Focus of agreement and or disagreement Agreement disagreement may be complete or partial but the writer must establish explain and maintain the focus of agreement disagreement with Devlin s argument Support for agreement and or disagreement Support should provide an analysis of Devlin s argument and or relevant and concrete examples from the writer s experience or general knowledge Style and coherence These papers demonstrate clear style overall organization consecutiveness of thought and often a strong effective voice They contain few errors in usage grammar or mechanics 7 This score should be used for papers which fulfill the basic requirements for the 9 8 grade but have less development support or analysis 6 5 Middle range papers omit or are deficient in one of the four criteria Summary Summary absent inaccurate incomplete or implicit Focus of agreement disagreement What the writer is agreeing disagreeing with is not clear is not well maintained or is not related to Devlin s main argument Support Writer only asserts or counter asserts writer s examples are highly generalized or not distinguishable from examples given in the article the writer s analysis of Devlin s argument may be specious irrelevant inaccurate or thin Style and coherence These papers are loosely organized or contain noticeable errors in usage grammar or mechanics They may have a strong but inappropriate voice 4 This grade should be used for papers which fulfill the basic requirement for the 6 5 grade but are slightly weaker Essays that do not respond to the prompt but are otherwise satisfactory typically receive a 4 3 Lower range papers are deficient in two or more of the criteria typically they have no summary and no support Often these papers are preachy cliched or platitudinous OR they have noticeable organization coherence problems 2 Papers with serious repeated errors in usage grammar or mechanics OR papers with significant focus or coherence problems that seriously disrupt communication must be given a 2 1 This grade should be given to those papers which have overwhelming problems Sample With No Individual Comment Exemplary Competent Needs Work Data analysis Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that best facilitate understanding and interpretation Error analysis is included Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that can be understood and interpreted although not as clearly as they might be Error analysis is included Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that are very unclear Error analysis is not included Sample With Individual Comment Exemplary Competent Needs Work Comments Data analysis Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that best facilitate understanding and interpretation Error analysis is included Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that can be understood and interpreted although not as clearly as they might be Error analysis is included Data are presented in ways charts tables graphs that are very unclear Error analysis is not included The chart on p 2 helps readers see the relative percentages but the table on p 4 is confusing and difficult to read Critiquing a Sample Rubric Take a look at the sample rubric borrowed from From Optimizing Faculty Use of Writing as a Learning Tool in Geoscience Education by Jon A Leydens and Paul Santi in press at The Journal of Geoscience Education Its most successful feature is the careful distinction in the evaluative range running across the table for each criterion A student receiving this rubric with his or her paper would be able to tell pretty quickly which criteria needed more attention or where the student can best spend time on a subsequent paper What the rubric could do still more clearly is define the criteria themselves more fully As teachers move from task to task they may in fact want to assess how students demonstrate their understanding of concepts But a quick update of the rubric for a specific writing assignment could help students see whether the assignment calls for demonstrating understanding of new concepts linking new concepts with material already covered extending classwork into independent work and so on Teachers can provide this fuller definition of the key criteria in a more detailed sheet with the assignment itself or they can cover that material in the classroom But students will get more out of the feedback on the rubric if teachers remember to give students concrete definitions of key criteria Objective 1 Exemplary 2 Proficient 3 Apprentice 4 Novice Recollection of facts Touches on every important fact related to the topic Covers the critical facts related to the topic Covers a majority of facts related to the topic Contains only some of the obvious facts Demonstrated understanding Original wording analogies or examples Applies taught concepts to answer the question Steps beyond simple recall and attempts to interpret ideas to better answer the question Recalls appropriate concepts or examples to address question Apparent misconception s or knowledge gap s Linking of topics Carefully evaluates multiple topics that apply to the question and synthesizes them into a coherent answer Incorporates multiple concepts to answer the question and demonstrates judgment in applying concepts Answers the question using several concepts or topics Answers the question using a single concept or topic Persuasive writing Every idea or conclusion is logically supported by relevant facts Includes judgment of data reliability Every idea or conclusion is logically supported by relevant facts Relates ideas and conclusions to facts or concepts taught as fact Opinion and fact not clearly separated Basis for opinions is unclear at times Typical Grade average 92 95 93 87 91 90 83 86 84 76 82 78 One additional element might also help students In this rubric all four criteria seem to be weighted equally When that s the case you don t need to provide the weightings But if you want to shift the emphasis among criteria as you give subsequent assignments or if you simply want to give more weight to a particular criterion you should reflect that assessment practice on the rubric itself A Process For Designing A Helpful Rubric Perhaps the single most important element of designing a rubric is to ask yourself what you want to emphasize as you read and respond to the writing assignment This question is key to developing a good writing assignment in the first place and it s also key to constructing a useful rubric If at all possible create the rubric as part of your work developing the writing assignment per se Students appreciate seeing the rubric early on as a way to focus on key components of the assignment and you ll be sure that you emphasize the same points as you present the assignment to your students and as you evaluate papers In brief here are workable steps to develop an effective scoring rubric List key elements to assess Refine your list after you define the criteria as concretely as possible Set out your evaluative range for each criterion Again be as concrete as you can be Check the weightings of your criteria Decide if you want to give feedback on each criterion or only a summative comment Make clear where the overall grade appears on your final rubric sheet List Key Elements To Assess Start by listing the key elements you feel are most important to respond to in this assignment Don t use a generic rubric because you ll feel compelled to include someone else s criteria Eventually these elements will become the criteria you ll list in the left hand boxes of your table But think carefully about these elements Do you really need to include all of them in your assessment of this piece of writing Might some be combined Might some be pulled apart so that you can give students more detailed response Don t rush through this part of the process because the more time you spend on this step and the next two the more useful the rubric will be overall Refine Your List After You Define The Criteria As Concretely As Possible Take each criterion and define just what you mean Although you ll see many sample rubrics with abstract or general terms in the criteria column the best rubrics draw on shared knowledge about key features of writing If you ve talked with students in class about what you mean by demonstrated understanding then you may not need to define the term in your rubric But if you can help students by providing a gist of what you mean by a concept use your rubric to do so You ll also find that by defining terms you ll clarify in your own mind what s most important to comment on For example sometimes teachers think that organization is a key criterion But what they mean is not whether students use appropriate headings adequate for their understanding of organization but how well students help readers move through the paper as a whole and that movement might be helped by headings in addition to transitions repetition of key terms forecast maps and other devices that create coherence for readers Thus defining criteria can help you refine your overall list of criteria and can help make assessment of papers easier and faster Set Out Your Evaluative Range For Each Criterion Sometimes you ll want to set the standard of excellence very high for instance in an upper division course with students who have had lots of practice with disciplinary writing skills In other instances you ll want to give students some slack Defining the range of performance allows you to moderate your expectations for each criterion and for each assignment Particularly for those teachers who give multiple opportunities for students to practice a particular kind of paper say in a laboratory course with multiple lab reports setting the standards at a relatively low level at the beginning of the course will allow students to experience some success But this teacher will want to raise the standards as the sequence of assignments progresses so that students are achieving at the highest levels by the end of the term When you adjust your evaluative range be sure to tell students that you re raising the bar As you define the evaluative range more detail is more helpful for students than not You ll save time in the long run if you define what a superior good and average paper looks like on this criterion before you even begin assessing papers Check The Weightings Of Your Criteria In one of my courses revising a draft to take account of a specified audience is among the most important skills I want students to practice and learn So my evaluation criteria stress audience awareness and accommodation as vitally important A student could write a clear readable academic paper that might receive an A in another course but because the paper must address a non academic audience in my class it would receive no better than a C If you have similar criteria that count for most of the overall assessment of your assignments then be sure you alert students to the final weightings of criteria Some teachers prefer to note the weight of criteria on the assignment sheet others only note the weightings on the rubric Where you tell students about the relative importance of criteria is not as important as telling students what your weightings are Providing that information on both the assignment sheet and the rubric will almost certainly help students Decide If You Want To Give Feedback On Each Criterion Or Only A Summative Comment Although it seems like such a small point planning ahead on this item saves headaches down the road I ve seen teachers rubrics that fill the page leaving only the tiniest possible margins When the teacher wanted to write additional comments she had to use the back of the sheet Then students couldn t always link the specific comment with the criterion the teacher was commenting on In the interests of clarity and lower blood pressure decide if you want to leave extra space for handwritten notes or computer generated notes if you prefer to print each rubric individually for students in your class If the extra space will only make you feel guilty for not writing comments then fill your page with just enough space for an emergency comment to a student who needs special help If you give yourself only a small column to write comments in you may find that you can focus your comments on only the most important ones to give to students Final advice if you decide to write comments be sure they don t repeat what you have noted elsewhere on your rubric You ve developed the rubric so carefully to save time so don t lose that advantage by repeating yourself on individual student responses Make Clear Where The Overall Grade Appears On Your Final Rubric Sheet For those teachers who write a summative comment below the grid on a rubric sheet the overall grade pretty naturally falls into this space on the page But for teachers who don t plan to write such comments be sure you have a clearly identified space where students can see not only how they scored on each criterion but on the paper as a whole Experienced Teacher Offer These Reminders Setting up an assignment and rubric Think about possible audiences for the assigned paper And then show students what you mean by that audience because students won t know what a good paper looks like Think about what would help students succeed with the task and give some suggestions for specific writing strategies for example a backwards outline to check transitions between chunks of the text Students appreciate as much clarity as possible in the assignment itself Use both the assignment and rubric to set up your hierarchy of concerns Also use both the assignment and rubric to state your criteria for the assignment clearly If you assign a sequence of assignments during the semester note when your criteria get more complex or when you set higher standards Be sure to provide definitions of key criteria either on the assignment sheet or rubric or on both Provide samples if possible on a class web page Insight from a Colleague Mona Schatz of Social Work uses a rubric based on Bloom s taxonomy pretty religiously because it helps her avoid her biases Keeping the rubric in mind as she designs her assignments helps her move from objectives in the assignment to criteria on the rubric And she notes she writes on both the papers and the rubrics She uses the margins of the papers to note points students miss or to help students further explore a line of thinking She writes her summary comment on the rubric sheet so that she can consider both the depth and breadth of their work Helping Students Understand the Importance of Careful Editing One of the most common responses to the question Why did you give me a paper so full of mistakes is this You re the teacher you HAVE to read the paper Sadly students often see teachers as a captive audience who will just put up with whatever text flows from the keyboard or pen Most students can edit their papers and they often believe that editing doesn t matter so they don t take

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  • Contributors to this Guide
    Friendly Page Authors Contributors Contributors to this Guide Content Development Kate Kiefer Other Contributors to this Resource Carl Burgchardt Speech Communication SueEllen Campbell English Alicia Cook Emeritus Human Development and Family Studies Fred Ennsle History Judith Hannah Geosciences Bob Hoffert Emeritus Philosophy Lisa Langstraat English Jon Leydens Colorado School of Mines Brian Ott Speech Communication Paul Santi Colorado School of Mines Mona Schatz Social Work Dozens of English Department faculty

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  • Types of Communication
    in order to get work The Proposal then works to convince its recipient that a particular engineer or firm is the right choice for the job Narrative Writing A s an engineer much of the writing you do is not specifically essay or creative writing such as the writing you might do for a composition or poetry class However Narrative Writing is useful for explaining concepts or depicting situations that might otherwise be difficult to understand N arrative Writing involves telling a story Typically this writing is not accepted in the technical writing found in most engineering publications and in industry Readers specifically other engineers expect what they read to deliver information in a straightforward way without comparisons or anecdotes However Narrative Writing can help readers visualize a concept or design in specific situations Public Meetings A s a civil engineer you ll attend and conduct many Public Meetings Since much of the engineering work you ll do centers around planning and decision making people both politicians and citizens want to know how you re spending their tax dollars These meetings require strong presentation skills due to diverse audiences and situations T he purpose of a Public Meeting is to communicate what plans or decisions are being made on a project Typically the information engineers convey at a Public Meeting is objective so that unbiased decisions can be made A Public Meeting s purpose can change however depending on the audience and the situation A Public Meeting s audience can range anywhere from city council members to citizens When presenting to any of these engineers always consider what their audience already knows about a topic and what they expect to find out about a topic They are also informed about how an audience feels towards a topic For example homeowners living near a busy intersection are complaining about noise and traffic congestion The city has plans to widen the streets at this intersection thus welcoming even more traffic according to the homeowners Civil engineers would discuss the city s plans to both city officials and homeowners Obviously they can expect support from city officials since they initiated the plan The homeowners on the other hand are likely to be angry and have much to say against the proposal The engineers job as presenters is to cater to both audiences They can justify why the streets need to be widened and how the noise and heavy traffic problems might be solved They must present objective information to aid in decision making Operating Procedures E ngineers write Operating Procedures to ensure that the artifacts they create are properly utilized and maintained Operating Procedures require a specific type of writing for a particular audience C ivil engineers write Operating Procedures for different types of artifacts These artifacts include single pieces of equipment such as a pump and more complex equipment such as reservoir or wastewater treatment plant Whenever engineers write Operating Procedures they consider who will need to understand the information they provide

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  • General Format of a Lab Report
    and accurate but not wordy verbose or too terse And of course you should always include your name and the date on a title page as well as any other information identifying the lab Abstract T he abstract is a brief summary of the report It typically ranges from 50 to 150 words depending on the report s length Abstracts can be organized in a number of ways A typical organizational pattern presents the objective of the experiment briefly lists the procedures that were followed and briefly reports the key findings Depending on the importance of the findings some abstracts report the results first Equipment R eaders may expect and require a list of all the equipment used in a test This list includes the equipment s name as well as the equipment s number Listing your equipment ensures that you use the same piece of equipment throughout a test Check with your instructor to determine whether or not this information should be included and where You may need to provide a separate Equipment heading or include this information within the Procedures Procedures H ere is where you document everything you did during a test or experiment In a way this section is like a recipe because you present the exact steps you followed In fact someone should be able to read your procedures section and imitate the test or experiment exactly More than likely you ll also incorporate graphics here to help describe exactly what procedures you followed Results I n this section you report the test s outcome s Here tell your readers what the test measured with exact data You might also include calculations or equations This section may or may not include data interpretations Some readers expect interpretations or conclusions to be a separate heading Check

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  • Communication Conventions
    complete the work Lists L ists are effective ways to present information Not only do they break down large amounts of text but they re also visually pleasing Lists are especially useful when you have to convey steps phases years procedures or decisions When creating a list consider writing phrases fragments or even questions and answers By avoiding full sentences in a list your information is concise and more likely to engage your readers For example to receive a degree in engineering you must complete the following Core Courses Elective Courses Senior Design Lists can be bulleted as in the previous example or numbered Typically you should use a numbered list when you need to stress the order of the listed items Priorities and steps are best presented as numbered lists Graphics G raphics provide illustrated information to readers In general graphics are designed to make it easier for readers to understand your data Deciding when to insert a graphic depends on the information you need to convey For example as you re writing a technical report you find yourself struggling to describe a complex concept Fitting your description within a few paragraphs is impossible so you decide to create a graphic Often graphics are useful when concepts designs or processes are too complex or cumbersome to describe in written or oral form Active Passive Voice I n the past many engineers stressed that the passive voice should be used in writing However this trend is changing Some instructors publications and industries now accept the active voice in written documents To differentiate between the two consider the following I used the electric identifier to solve the problem The electric identifier was used to solve the problem The first sentence is in active voice It stresses who completed the work I

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  • Advice from Engineers
    have found that students need to understand how to effectively present information how to format documents and how to incorporate purpose and audience into writing Following this advice can help you prepare organized logical documents Present Information Logically M any engineering professors note that much of the writing they read from students often doesn t have a logical flow By this they mean that the writing doesn t present ideas in an order that makes sense Consider for example that you are writing the procedures to a lab you conducted Obviously you should relate the steps you followed in the order you completed them This way your readers can visualize how you completed the tasks You should also make sure that your entire document or presentation presents information logically For instance don t include conclusions or results in either the procedure section or the introduction Format Your Documents A nother common mistake many engineering instructors identify in student writing is that writers give little or no consideration to formatting Whenever you produce a document you should always consider how you ve organized your thoughts and how you can make this known to the reader For example if you re writing a report you should use headings and subheadings to alert your readers of the various sections your report presents Then bolding or somehow highlighting with various font sizes etc these headings can make them stand out to your readers Also consider how your document appears In other words you should use a consistent style according to the style guidelines in your discipline This includes margin sizes line spacing and even the title page you attach to the front of your document The final draft your instructor collects should look good enough to send to a publication or a conference Know

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