This week my ENGL 1102 students will begin presenting their short research projects. I've used this assignment twice before, but this time there are a few new twists. The project still involves the development of a class-wide knowledge base designed to help students better grasp the context of medieval and early modern culture and society, and is designed to reinforce best credible research practices. But whereas the past two iterations involved a complex of technological platforms and communication modes (oral presentation w/ PowerPoint or Prezi-based visual aids, complementary wiki entries, visceral Twitter feedback) this time I'm trying to streamline the process and experience. Students choose from this list of topics that relate to either Elizabethan or medieval England (as identified in the second tetralogy.)
As you'll know if you've read the last few posts that my ambitious course plans for the semester have prompted me to think more carefully not only about the feedback I give, but how I give that feedback and how fine-grained I can make that feedback without driving myself to distraction. Here at the Writing & Communication program we've been talking a lot about better approaches to assessing multimodal assignments, since composition here is defined as encompassing more digital forms than traditional essays.
more "Report from the Grading Trenches, Dispatch Two"
I spent a lot of time this summer thinking about how to streamline my grading process. I spoke with colleagues, read many Profhacker articles (just search Profhacker by "assessment" and you'll get 101 hits), and looked at my past approaches to embracing a syllabus that expects students to experiment with multimodal forms of composition without having what I consider to be the proper tools for assessing those forms (how the hell DO you properly assess a Google Map?) Sometimes it feels as though I'm marking up a play-text to evaluate a live performance. Not sure if that metaphor works for anyone else, but I'll stick with it for now.