Notes: Jeff Rice, “Networked Assessment”

Rice, Jeff. “Networked Assessment.” Computers and Composition 28.1 (2011): 28-39.

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Summary:

Jeff Rice uses network theory, drawing heavily on Latour, to develop a new media inspired writing program assessment method.

Keywords: Assessment, Network, New Media, Writing Studies

Sources:

Prior, Paul, & Shipka, Jody. “Chronotopic lamination: Tracing the contours of literate activity.” In Charles Bazerman, & David Russell (Eds.), Writing selves/Writing societies: Research from activity perspectives. Fort Collins, CO: WAC Clearinghouse and Mind, Culture, and Activity, 2003.

Yancey, Kathleen Blake, & Huot, Brian (Eds.). Assessing writing across the curriculum: Diverse approaches and practices. Greenwich, CT: Ablex, 1997.

Quotations:

“Networked thinking has emerged as a way of making sense of disparate information collected in a given space. In writing studies or its assessment, however, network thinking has not emerged in the same manner. Although we live in an age dominated by new media technologies as varied as word processing and social networking, we spend little time considering how the logics and rhetorics of such technologies might shape institutional practices like assessment that attempt to gather information into a space” (28).

“When one has collected enough detailed descriptions, on can then trace various relationships among the collected material and begin to see how these relationships contribute to a given meaning system. Whatever is described and traced will reveal unknown relationships… The purpose of tracing is to flesh out the possible relationships existing in any given moment, to create what Latour calls an account. An account is a description, not proof of value” (29).

“While assessment has generally concerned itself with issues of value, proving a program or individual’s work is valuable to oneself or to a higher governing body, we might benefit from imagining a networked based assessment whose focus is account based rather than value based” (29).

“My interest is in proposing the tracing of recurring links as a method for conducting writing program assessment” (29).

“These events, no matter how local we make them out to be, function in relationship to other events. In these relationships, a myriad of influences might play into a given writing moment that an ethnographic study might not observe: time of day, mood, interests, desires, motivations, media influence, writing that the student does elsewhere, the room itself, what happened before the student sat down to write, and so on–the very things that compose a localized relationship…” (31).

“Assessment, therefore, may not have to depend on the outcome of success or failure, good or bad, right or wrong, value or lack of value in order to be meaningful to one’s program or superiors” (31).

“I am interested in an assessment which, influenced by new media, may need to invent its own vocabulary and not be shaped by the previous ideological positions or terminologies, as admirable as these terms (validity, ethics) might be” (33).

“The networked assessment does not discard the traditional objects of study assessment treats… Their commonality is important to the networked experience; our task is to extend this commonality so that the areas are viewed as being in relationship with one another” (35).

Questions, Reflection, Response:

I’m fairly familiar with the Huot (1996) call for localized forms of assessment and I think the application of network theory as a practice for program assessment is an compelling method for conducting these assessments. This development of a cartographic assessment that can entered at any point, triangulate outcomes with patterns and objects of study through the use of network theory and mix-method research, and is followable is a lot of what I’ve been looking for in an assessment method. I wonder then if there is a way to give network assessment as a way to respond to student writing, or to make a network assessment of the local assumptions of assessment’s value and make explicit its theoretical underpinnings.

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