Teaching the rhetoric of writing assessment

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


As writing teachers, all of us want our students to be able to assess their own writing in order to respond effectively to future contexts and form reflective and critical practices. Many of us have also heard a familiar refrain from students, often after we have evaluated or responded to their writing: "Just tell me what you want me to do," they beg us. These are assessment problems that Peter Elbow attempts to solve by arguing that we do "less ranking and more evaluation," (1999, 176); however, too much evaluation "harms the climate for learning and teaching," so he suggests "evaluation-free zones" in a course (186). These zones are meant to allow students to explore and take risks. They act in a formative manner and attempt to dislodge writing from evaluation and grading that the institutional gaze of a teacher often creates. Elbow explains that if done right, evaluation-free zones can release students from having to ask the teacher, "How am I doing, did I do OK?" (186). Elbow's solution seems quite conventional now. Almost ten years later, most writing teachers I know try to grade as little as possible and incorporate lots of writing in their classes that does not get evaluated. So it appears many have listened to Elbow's good advice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTeaching with Student Texts
Subtitle of host publicationEssays Toward an Informed Practice
PublisherUtah State University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780874217858
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'Teaching the rhetoric of writing assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this