Group Project: Dynamic Criteria Mapping

For our final group project, we as a community will come up with a list of values and criteria we have enacted over the course of the semester and then come up with a map representing the criteria upon which our work should be evaluated.


The goal is to come up with a statement of criteria that is:

  • Site-based (as in, designed for the specifics of our community and in response to the work that we have done together),
  • Locally controlled (not imposed upon us from administrators on the outside, or even imposed upon you by the instructor from above),
  • Context-sensitive (intended to speak to us as a community about the work that we have done in a way that is attuned to our context, without trying to apply to situations from outside),
  • Rhetorically based (rather than being statistical or scientistic), and
  • Accessible (a process open to all of us in the community to engage with, rather than a process where the instructor or an outside administrator draws up criteria alone, through a closed-off process, and then hands them down).


Between now and class on Monday (4/20), I’m asking each of you to go back through the semester’s work. Reread all of the work that you have published to your sites. Look through the feedback you’ve gotten from me and from your peers. Try to remember anything that your peers have said to you about your writing or that you have said to them during the workshop sessions and at other moments. Read back through the student learning objectives and the rest of the course syllabus and site. Think about how successful each of the texts you have published this semester are–either explicitly what grade you would assign to that text, or even just whether you consider that particular piece to be successful or not. And as you decide so, list what factors lead you to that particular estimation of that text (i.e., “this work is successful because a, b, c, d, e“).

As you do so, make a list of any criteria that you find or that you think about that designate what we value as writers in this class. As you read your own work or your peers’ work, list anything that you like or do not like about that work. What factors about any particular piece of writing or any visual artifact that you or a peer has created makes it successful or unsuccessful? You may, but do not necessarily need to, report which piece you are deriving a criterion statement from (i.e., you can say that it was a bad thing when someone used URLs instead of links in a post without outing yourself or offending anyone by pointing to the specific instance that prompted that observation). Some of the criteria you list might be specifically enumerated in the learning objectives posts linked above or might be the sorts of criteria you have seen in other rubrics, but they do not have to be–don’t limit yourself to preconceived notions of what you think other people or entities value, but instead focus on what you actually do feel is valuable and what you believe the community has articulated as valuable. You do not need to restrict yourself to criteria that you know everyone will agree with, either.

We will engage in exercises in class on Monday (4/20) designed to draw out this list of criteria that we all have come up with, with the goal of turning your individual thoughts into a communal list of some sort. Unlike in a traditional assessment session, the goal is not to norm each other into a standardized list but to articulate the criteria we apply in determining the ways in which individual works from this class are successful or not. You’ll each note and discuss evaluative agreement and disagreement, but we do not need to ultimately all come to deep agreement about these criteria. Instead, we will focus on listening to and understanding the full range of values at work in this classroom community. You should each actively reflect on how the values discussed might inform your future writing in the rest of your college careers. Think of this as an opportunity to have a transformative conversation about what we talk about when we talk about writing.

Data Analysis

Once we have gathered this list of criteria, we will attempt to establish the identities, contents, boundaries, and interrelationships between the various criteria. Working inductively, we will look for patterns in the criteria we come up with and attempt to organize all of that into categories, constellations, venn diagrams, or some other sort of somewhat structured description of the criteria. We will perceive, interpret, judge, and compose meaningful findings out of all that data that we bring to the surface in our previous discussions.

How Should We Value Writing

As a final step, once we have done all this work to gather statements of how we in fact do value writing in this community, I’ll ask you to think about how we should value writing. We’ll discuss how various elements we list should be ranked in order or prominence and will pose some questions about how all of these criteria should be applied. Some questions that we might consider:

  • To what extent should whether a student fulfilled the assignment count for or against her?
  • Which should influence judgments more: in-class, unrevised, unedited texts or texts whose writing processes included drafting, response, research, revision, and proofreading?
  • How should perceptions of learning, progress, and growth figure into judgments of students’ rhetorical performance?
  • What should be the weight and role of mechanics in the assessment of students’ writing abilities?

All of this work should be really useful as you compose your final portfolio and reflection essay. I’ll expect you to make use of these criteria as you reflect on your own learning and progress this semester. I also hope that this work to reflect as a community on what we value in the writing we have done will help each of you individually to articulate for yourselves what you have learned and what value you have found in this class, which I hope will ultimately make this class more useful for you as you go forward into other classes and other sorts of writing in the future. In other words, I hope that this process of reflecting on assessing your own writing and learning will itself be a learning experience that provides its own value to you going forward.