A Possible Rubric for Rehearsals

cropped rubric

I can get a little nutty for rubrics. They give me a sense of grounding in our hectic and complicated educational system. The CUNY system has over 269,000 degree-credit students. That’s more people than live in New York state’s next largest city. Baruch has over 17,500 students and more than 129 languages are spoken here.

The students come to us with different goals and different skill sets. As fellows, it can feel as though we play a highly ambiguous role in students’ learning. We generally have little influence on assignment design, yet we are charged with facilitating the students’ acquisition of necessary communication skills so that they learn more in completing their assignments.

Like Julia and Christine, I’ve been thinking about assessment even more than usual because of the Schwartz Institute’s self study. Conducting Business Policy workshops and rehearsals for five semesters has brought me to the point where I want to be able to give each student an assessment to take with them at the end of a session.

This semester I will be using a rehearsal worksheet during my Business Policy rehearsals. Even though I see the rehearsal as covering three main components (content, presentation skills, and visual aid design) I organized the chart bilaterally. I believe that mastery of content and delivery skills are deeply intertwined and that the reason many students stare at their notes rather than looking at their audience is that they fear they do not know the material well enough.

Please let me know what you think of the worksheet; if you have suggestions for a better layout or different categories of analysis. Feel free to use it and if you do, please let me know what you think!

Developing a Debate Rubric for Management 3800

Participating in BLSCI’s self study has led me to think more about assessment, especially as it relates to my work as a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow in the institute. WAC pedagogy emphasizes assignment design that is based on outcomes for learning, thus assessment is key to determining whether those goals are being met. It occurred to me that the Management 3800 students I coach have little sense of the learning outcomes they are meant to achieve by engaging in an in-class debate. What key communication skills are they supposed to learn and demonstrate? In the practice sessions I have held with student groups, their concern isn’t whether they have developed the necessary skills, but whether I (as a proxy for the professor) think they are doing what he wants in order to receive an A on the assignment. Perhaps this lack of clarity occurs because the professor I am working with doesn’t use and distribute a rubric for the assignment. In this post, I expand upon my earlier discussion about incorporating WAC principles into the courses I am supporting this semester by considering how developing a rubric for the debate assignment would help both the students and myself as their coach achieve our respective outcome goals.

Although the professor distributes a document at the beginning of the semester that outlines his thoughts about debating and thus implies what he is looking for in the students’ performance, (to my knowledge) they are not directly informed in advance about the criteria he will be using to evaluate their skills. His post-debate feedback for individual students covers aspects of both content and delivery. He comments on the following elements of the debate (in this order): dress, voice, ability to express ideas, presentation, preparation, rebuttal, closing statements, and overall effect. It is unclear whether any of these elements are prioritized in his evaluation of the student’s performance. Nor is it quite clear how a category like “presentation” differs from “ability to express ideas” or “overall effect” in the skills that are being assessed. By what standard is something like “preparation” being determined?

I feel that students would be better supported if fellows worked with faculty to develop a standard rubric that accounts for the overall skills the debate assignment aims to develop. During the coaching session the fellow could go over the rubric with students so they have a better sense of what they are meant to gain from the assignment based on how the professor will be evaluating their presentation. The fellow could even make written comments in each area/grid of the rubric so that students leave the session with something concrete to work on (rather than a vague sense of needing to improve based on our verbal feedback). While fellows are meant to consult on the delivery—not the content—of presentations, the rubric would certainly cover both elements and, in practice, I have found that students who come to my sessions want (and need) help with both. I challenged myself to imagine what a debate rubric would look like and admittedly had some difficulty because the assignment requires many skills and seems to aim for a number of different but related learning outcomes. Nonetheless, the rubric might include elements like coverage of the topic, organization of ideas, persuasiveness in the use of evidence, extemporaneous speaking skills, communication clarity, self-presentation, etc. Although it would take work on the part of both faculty and fellows, creating a debate rubric is a feasible goal because it doesn’t require any changes to the assignment or course design (unlike, say, scaffolding).

Finally, reading Christine’s thoughts about assessment criteria for the communication intensive course she supports (her post doesn’t identify the specific course) prompted me to consider how the communication goals of the debate assignment in Management 3800 relate to, as well as differ from, other oral presentation assignments Baruch students are given. If there are overlapping goals for the various oral presentations students complete in their courses, how might we synthesize design and assessment across the assignments to support these outcomes? Alternately, what is unique about debating as a way of thinking and communicating that might be significant for designing an outcome-based assessment in Management 3800?

Communication Intensive: What’s the Criteria?

A few weeks ago, I introduced myself to a class that I’m supporting this semester as Communication Fellow at BLSCI. I outlined the support services the Institute provides and specifically the support I will provide to students during rehearsals for their presentations. In the time I’ve worked as a fellow, I have never given an introduction and students did not have any questions. Not only did these students not have any questions, they also seemed reluctant to answer any of the questions I posed to them. I received engaged eyes, but no words to follow the expressions their eyes were emoting. I asked myself: how communication intensive is this course, if the students aren’t comfortable answering simple questions about their academic level or if they have anxiety giving oral presentations?

At BLSCI, we are in a self-reflective process right now, assessing the services we provide and what services we could potentially offer to students and faculty. With a new director at the helm, self-assessment is always key, to see which direction an organization needs to go. I wonder based on the silence I received from that one particular class of students if assessment needs to occur on deeper levels based on the curricula in each course. If most students prepare an oral presentation in courses designated as communication intensive, and they interface with BLSCI specifically for this one presentation, what other opportunities can be made available to students to cultivate communication skills inside and outside of the classroom? What spaces can be made available to students to develop their communication skills in addition to giving oral presentations?

As a doctoral candidate at the dissertation writing stage, the Career Services Center at The Graduate Center offers great workshops on professionalization skills such as developing an elevator pitch, crafting resumes for the non-academic market, and alternative career options. What if students at an undergraduate level looked at opportunities to participate in class as opportunities to cultivate their oral communication and professionalization skills? The silence I received from those students was a bit unnerving, mainly because many students think of professionalization and their academic education as two different realms that only converge during an internship and/or when they enter the labor market. Even at a business school like Baruch, students need help to recognize that these realms are not separate but actually work in tandem with each other. Even if the job they currently hold is not their intended career, cultivating good communications skills is key, and lays the foundation for grooming the elevator pitch for the career path one is truly passionate about. I guess in many ways, I do more than consult with students on oral presentations, I also provide them with tools for professionalization. In the future I will begin my introduction scripts with that.

On the matter of numbers

Mindful of other deadlines, I finally applied pressure to my felt-tipped pen while in transit, on a quiet Sunday morning subway-car. I felt unsuited, ill-prepared, to start writing. No notes to work from. Just a folder full of documents unrelated to this blog post. I did have, for better or for worse, an inky pen with a soft point (ballpoints are better for business) and the blank surface of a manila folder. I began drafting this contextual blog post for the “Writing About Numbers” faculty roundtable that Bill Ferns and I will co-run next week. I ended up with this: drawing out, crossing out, sketching again, a recurring discomfort I’ve had since grade school. The story of this recurring feeling is not particularly remarkable, one that is not so dissimilar from my impulse to avoid the freshly opened new word-processor document on my laptop screen (blankness). The story:  I am immediately stunned by numbers and, in defense, my mind triggers a blank.

scribble

This anecdote is a roundabout way of saying that the initial discomfort I sense when writing in a familiar language is, in some ways, akin to the perceived challenges I feel when encountering figures and languages that I am less literate in (i.e., numbers, data, French). It is, quite frankly, the discomfort–some blending of vulnerability and responsibility–that arises when one communicates while learning, thinking, processing. There is always recourse, though, to leave things blank or to remain silent.

* * *

slaveship

But what does writing, discomfort, and silence (blankness) have to do with numbers and data? I’ll try to explain by turning to a context, by relating my academic work in literary study to the subject of numbers. I study Atlantic slavery and its relationship to literary production. The archival materials and texts affiliated with the Atlantic slave trade have been read as documents that reveal the ways in which lives of the enslaved were reduced and dehumanized by violent abstraction. That is, ledgers, balance books, nautical journals and other accounts of the transatlantic slave trade converted captives into commodities, lives indexed by numbers and figures. Take for instance Stephanie Smallwood’s description, in Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora (2007), of how ledgers rationalized the violent logic of the slave trade:

 “The ledger’s double-entry pages and the neat grid of the invoice gave purposeful shape to the story they told. Through their graphic simplicity and economy, invoices and ledgers effaced the personal histories that fueled the slaving economy. Containing only what could fit within the clean lines of their columns and rows, they reduced an enormous system of traffic in human commodities to a concise chronicle of quantitative ‘facts.’… Instruments such as these did their work, then, while concealing the messiness of history, erasing from view the politics that underlay the neat account keeping” (98).

In spite of the violent accountings of the slave trade, practitioners of the humanities–historians and literary scholars in particular–have been able to supply nuance, variation, and interpretation to realities that are gestured at but not revealed by the neatness of numbers, charts, and graphs. In the area of slavery studies, robust and incisive work has emerged from scholars who engage with and rethink the politics, ethics, and historical contexts that adjoin the quantitative facts and the administrative records of the slave trade. This is evidenced by recent scholarly gatherings, like “‘Against Recovery?’: Slavery, Freedom, and the Archive,” and digital projects, like Vincent Brown’s cartographic narrative of an eighteenth-century slave revolt.

To return to the question: what does writing, discomfort, and silence have to do with numbers and data?  Writing is a practice in working through the discomfort of learning whatever our subject of study might be. If there’s discomfort, I’ve told students who are silent or on the brink of giving up, it’s because learning is challenging and that thorny realities are involved in subjects we choose to study. Whether working on a formula, or analyzing a set of statistics, or deciphering the mind of Milton’s poetry, writing sets into motion a cycle of processing, self-assessing, and renewing material.

Because writing is a striving for the precise combination of words and signs that correspond to a thought and, simultaneously, an exercise that invites feelings of vulnerability and responsibility, it seems to me that writing is a practice of ethics and politics. In other words, through the process of writing, we reflect on the matter that characterizes whatever our study might be and, as a result, learn a bit more about the limits and the possibilities in what matters to us.

sievers

 Works Cited

Smallwood, Stephanie. Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora. Cambridge: Harvard University Press,  2007.

Source of image #2 and #3: The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record (Click on images for exact url address).

A resolution and a note on rubrics

I always wish I had a habit of writing down teaching realizations immediately after every class. I do it sometimes but not systematically, and I’ve lost some good ideas and observations as a result. Starting this semester, I resolve to annotate my syllabus after every class and keep a running document that includes notes ranging from things I noticed about my assignments to things that happened in class that confused students or stimulated a good conversation.

Even though I kept forgetting to write it down, I miraculously remembered one realization I had last semester about my final paper rubric, and so I’m making a note of it now as I plan for next semester. The categories for that rubric (for a compare/contrast paper) were: Thesis; Evidence and Quotation; Progress of Ideas and Paragraphs; Grammar and Spelling; and Clarity. I realized while grading the papers that I wished I had a category that assesses to what degree the students understood the texts. I had assumed that all the categories together would address that question, but I discovered that I wanted a category dedicated entirely to that question.

The rubric in question.

The rubric in question.

One of my students, for example, wrote a thesis that made some kind of coherent sense but depended on many misreadings of the texts. According to the way he was reading the texts, his thesis worked. But, his thesis was nonsense because he misunderstood the texts. I wanted to be able to applaud his understanding of what a thesis does (he had made a controversial, interesting argument that was text-specific and somewhat complex) but I didn’t feel I had enough room on my rubric to show him that his misreading of the text was a significant problem even though he had understood what I wanted from a thesis. I think I circled the “B” column for “Thesis” and the “C” or “D” column for “Evidence and Quotation” (even though he had used many quotes as evidence, quotes he misunderstood and therefore mishandled) but that didn’t seem to sufficiently describe the problem I found in his paper. I explained it in depth in my comments to him, but the circled assessment categories didn’t really match the comments closely enough.

So, next semester, in addition to the categories I already have on the rubric, I will add a category that assesses the degree to which a student has shown mastery of the text. A simple adjustment, and one of many I could make if I systematically noted my observations.

While I’m on the topic of rubrics, I would like to ask any readers for their feedback on a question I ask myself every time I make a new rubric. The categories on my rubrics aren’t weighted. No category officially counts for more or less of the total grade. I tell the students that if I had to choose, the “Thesis” and “Evidence and Quotation” categories count the most (without them, there’s no hope of getting a good grade) but do people assign actual numerical values to their categories (i.e. “Thesis” counts for 30% of the paper grade)? And if you do that, do you find it useful or too constraining? I kind of like the wiggle room that not assigning weights to each category gives me, and that’s why I continue to keep it unweighted, but sometimes I feel like I’m not being clear enough with my expectations. Any thoughts or experiences would be really appreciated!

On Time and Risk

If there’s not enough time, I could just cut to the chase: the scene is at risk without context.

***

As I write this segment of my blog entry, I’m on a train returning to New York City from a conference. Voices in the background unify into one murmur and whenever I look out the window with the silly hope of pausing on a frame, I see green foliage running, flashes of indecipherable station signs, a moment of cars going in the opposite direction. And now, I am reflecting on a roundtable discussion. My mind is a bit murky.

“Is there a war on the humanities?” This was the title of, and the question posed to, a roundtable discussion earlier this afternoon. While holding up a print version of The New York Times, the moderator began the session by referring to a recent scientific study on the social value of fiction. This prefaced the expressions of unease that later filled the room. The general sense of unease stemmed from the pressure for the humanities to define productivity in quantifiable, measurable, and instrumentalist terms. One of the speakers briefly discussed, I can’t recall his name at this moment, the pressing need to read for content, to browse for a reference. The value that was once placed on the practice of slow, immersive reading seems to be eroding.

***

Scenes are less meaningful without context. Because I taught classes scheduled in the evening and early morning, classes scheduled prior to and after the workday, I wonder often about the temporal contexts that affect scenes of learning and student performance. Like most CUNY students, my City College students frame their education around their work schedule and commute time. For each student, there’s a different set of stakes, a unique set of contexts, that shapes her/his performance. I can’t fully comprehend every set of stakes, but I appreciate when students attend class regularly with the desire to pause on an idea, in spite of temporal discomforts.

***

This student didn’t stick around after class to chat, nor was she a frequent office hours visitor. I remember the first time I read her writing. It was an essay where she brought together Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko and Italo Calvino’s essay, “Levels of Reality in Literature.” She’s a stunningly bold writer. She reappeared in my classroom a year after she wrote that paper. She registered late and arrived late to the second class of the semester. She maintained a taciturn presence. Writing assignments were turned in, hers were efficiently written; adequate. I couldn’t find the fearless voice.

Towards the end of the semester, she arrived to my office to complete an assigned recitation. She had to select lines from Paradise Lost, recite them from memory, and then discuss her understanding of those lines. Her boldness returned in a different form, through Satan’s soliloquy. She fumbled on one article but otherwise had delivered the lines perfectly, with verve. A discussion about those lines commenced, about Satan, about Milton’s experience with political defeat. I was impressed with her analysis of the lines and asked about her strategy for studying the lines. Tiredly she smiled at me, zipped up her jacket, and said that she had done it piecemeal. She made flashcards for her subway commutes and meditated on the lines during her shifts at work. “I’m working extra hours this semester,” she told me.

This made me wonder about the vocations that “[involve] both commitment and risk, boldness and vulnerability.

Fail

Failure is everywhere, we’re always talking about it, but we’re never willing to do it or encourage it.

Last week I ran a faculty development roundtable here at Baruch called “Invention in the Classroom.” Many interesting things came out of it, but one in particular has been sticking with me over the past couple days: the importance of failing, failing publicly and epically, including in the classroom.

After the roundtable, a few of us continued talking about failure, noting especially that our New York City public school students are brought up thinking that if they fail in an assignment or a test, they’re failing themselves, their parents, their teachers (whose careers are now increasingly linked to their students’ test scores), and their schools (which might even get shut down if they fail too epically, or even just a little). If our students are taught to always stick to the rules and never take a risk — to never fail — they are going to fail epically where it counts: in being inventive, inquisitive people.

At the college level, we often ask our students to “be creative” with an assignment. Here’s one example, from my course blog, of me asking that of mine:

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 4.03.54 PMAlmost none of them chose to write these extra posts (which I consider my own failure — one which I am attempting to work through and respond to in future assignments). In general, our students prefer clear-cut assignments that tell them exactly what the professor wants. I don’t blame them. I wanted that A, too, and I wasn’t expecting that I would get it through a semester of botched experiments.

There are a lot of ways to bring failure, and with it, creativity into the classroom, and I’d love to invite a discussion about it in the comments or elsewhere. In fact, I’m already thinking about a faculty roundtable for next semester specifically about failure.

But in the meantime, I wanted to end this post with one idea about how to bring failure into the classroom.

Model failure yourself. Or, to put it another way, model risk taking. Erica Kaufman, the faculty member and Schwartz Communication Fellow who helped us lead the roundtable, told us about asking her students to use technologies in assignments that she herself hadn’t mastered. (One such experiment was written about in the Ticker last week.) It takes guts to go to a room full of students and say (and this is an imaginative recreation of what she might have said): “I don’t know everything about how to use the 3-D printer/video editing software/animation software that I’m asking you to use, and I’m not sure exactly what we’re going to get out of this assignment, but I have a gut instinct that creating something physical that relates to your research will be instructive, and will ultimately help you figure out your argument.” It also pays off. By creating assignments that ask her students to fail again and again, hit a wall, and then by helping them to gather strength, look around them, and move beyond their failure, and by modeling a willingness to fail herself, Erica gets her students to consistently produce work that is stunning, mature, risky, and thoughtful.You can see one of her course blogs here. (And search her other course blogs from there.) It’s worth looking at her assignments, and considering how much risk they require of her students. Look at the “Our Blog!” page on the course site and you’ll see some of the things they wrote and made. The payoff seems obvious.

Did You Do the Reading?

If you’ve taught a College Now course, you know that inevitably, teaching in a program designed to give younger students a taste of college involves explicitly targeting a set of life skills in addition to course content.  College Now is a program through which NYC public high school students can take certain CUNY courses for college credit.  After class, I find myself helping students take the plunge into dialing the number of the tech help desk to troubleshoot a computer login problem, or walking students through the various ways they can find my email address if they’ve misplaced the course syllabus.

And although I generally teach the course the same way I do with undergrads, I do end up bulking up my systems of accountability and scaffolding of assignments.  I require students to do a little more to respond to weekly readings, break larger assignments down into smaller steps, etc.  These little changes have me thinking about how these kinds of accountability systems can be perceived as micromanaging or even condescending, but how if done effectively, they can vastly strengthen learning experiences in many educational contexts.

I’ve noticed I’m quick to assume that the idyllic Midwestern liberal arts college experience I had, in which most of my courses followed the model of “read something and come in and talk about it,” is the educational ideal.  And while I took many wonderful classes, some course titles come to mind from which I remember literally nothing.  As a teacher, I’m often mock (sort of) horrified when friends—people I view as successful, smart adults—dismissively reference all of the assigned readings they didn’t do in college.  But then I remember those long-forgotten books for classes outside my own major that I acquired but rarely opened.  What was in them?

In my last semester of graduate school coursework, I took a class outside of my discipline that turned out to have a tiny student enrollment.  I felt out of my element and awkwardly in the spotlight.  Rather than having to post a discussion question or the equivalent in response to each week’s reading, we were assigned to hand in a more thorough weekly summary/response in writing.  This was more accountability than I was used to in graduate school, and it was uncomfortable at first.  But oh how I read, wrote, spoke, and ultimately… remembered.  The same goes for knowledge I acquired while studying for recent comprehensive exams.  These structures of accountability unquestionably compelled me to learn more efficiently and effectively than I often have.

Although being a student (especially a graduate student) means being responsible for one’s own learning, teacher-imposed structures for recording and responding to course content have a huge impact on what kind of learning takes place.  Systems of holding students accountable for learning come in an infinite array of forms. They are obviously not only for College Now students.  This is hardly a new or unusual idea, but it’s an important one—one that I wish even some of my own teachers had chosen to take more seriously.

Competition Piece

In high school, I participated in a large-scale competitive festival of performances by high school drama clubs. This was not the beginning of my interest in theatre-making but it was a turning point for me. The production process was so intense that it was not until I had graduated college and moved to Poland to work with a professional experimental ensemble that I found something to match it.

My high school, Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, was a participant in the Massachusetts High School Drama Guild Festival, which we simply called “Festival.” I remember the competition rules exactly: Each high school sent a forty-minute production to compete. Five minutes were allowed for set-up and for strike. These time limits were strictly enforced and exceeding them meant disqualification. I remember practicing one year, over and over, to ensure the set-up of a fairly massive stage design in under five minutes. Putting up the set was as precisely choreographed as the show itself.

Comic and Tragic Masks: The MHSDG Logo

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Really Writing Writing Rubrics

I’m writing this post from the Landmark Ballroom, Salon 4, in the Renaissance Hotel in St. Louis, MO. Even more specifically, I just left a session at the Conference on College Composition and Communication titled, “Teaching Reading and Writing in New Media,” featuring presentations by Barclay Barrios, Richard E. Miller, and Cynthia Selfe. Their talks were titled: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Digital Literacy…” (Barrios), “Learning by Doing: A Year of Thinking in Public” (Miller), and “A More Capacious Conception: Long-Form Scholarship in Digital Environments” (Selfe). For me, what resonated across the presentations was the idea that the way that writing is composed and presented (whether to the public, to a select group of friends, or to instructors/colleagues) is changing–gravitating rapidly towards what Miller refers to as an “eternal future on screen.”

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find the language to write about something that happened in my Composition 2 class, a class that revolves around the theme, “Pay Attention: Or, What is our Brain on the Internet?” Thus far, we’ve spent the semester working through texts that focus on our relationship with the Internet—how the web changes the way we interact with the basic tenets of a traditional composition classroom—writing and reading and thinking. We began by reading Nicholas Carr, who clearly states, “What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving steam of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” (“Is Google Making Us Stupid?”)

I’m not sure that I agree with Carr’s point, yet when faced with my first batch of papers to grade, I literally didn’t know what to do. After weeks of reading and writing together, and after weeks of conversation and thinking together, I was at a total loss. I had no idea what to do with this stack of twenty-eight, typed and printed (12pt. font/double-spaced), three to five page papers. I find myself thinking about how, in this class, we use technology, we blog, but we also write papers and every single student must purchase the required books for the class—the print books—no e-readers, we hold the books in our hands, the pages are turned and folded, and we explore a world where those things might no longer exist. It feels crucial to me that I do not fully abandon the formal typed paper, but what do I do with them? And, how do I approach reading this form of writing, when I am so accustomed to the experience of reading the student blogs—the low stakes posts they make on a regular basis. Has the internet done something to my assessing brain? Why now?

A few thoughts (in which I tip my hat to Cathy Davidson, whose Now You See It is required reading in this course, and whose NY Times response helped me think through the issue at hand:

  •  One of my priorities when creating essay assignments is that they should be either student-generated, or at least should propose a question that is open enough so that no two papers will deal with the same idea or argument.
  • If my modus operandi behind assignment design is to privilege student input and curiosities, why not do the same with my assessment process?
  • Baruch students almost always ask for a rubric so they can see “how” they are being evaluated–they seem accustomed to rubric-based grading, and might even “like” it.

After thinking through these things, I decided to see what would happen if I asked my students to design their own rubric, to give them a chance to really think through how they are graded and how they wish they were graded.

The above image is what the class decided to do after being asked to write about their experiences being graded on their writing. As a class, they decided to generated a list of terms that felt important and put it all up on the board. I tried to relinquish my authority to the class–and basically kept silent as they generated this list. I want to point to a few terms that I was interested in and surprised by–effort, creativity, compelling, arouse curiosity.

The class then decided to take their “key terms” and organize them by category–they then turned these categories into the prose that filled the boxes of the rubric.

Again, I was surprised and fascinated by the decisions the class made–particularly in the category of “writing style” and its link to “organization.”I felt as though the rubric the class wanted and created was far better than any rubric I’ve used in the past.

But, in the piece of process writing we did after creating the rubric, a number of students expressed frustration with the task–they wanted the teacher to tell them what to do, despite the fact that those who voiced displeasure were the same students who demanded that terms like “creativity” be included.

I’m still not totally sure what to make of this experience. But, I do wonder if the same issues raised in the panel discussion I attended (online writing, the “end of privacy” when all writing is public) might have something to do with the way the class handled the task at hand. Do students now value their own ability to create more than ever? Are students learning to take responsibility for what they write and  how they write it (since they are essentially producing more language than ever)? What does this mean for the world of assessment and high stakes assignments? And, what do we do as writing teachers?