I base much of what transpires in class on the writing process. I emphasize pre-writing, writing, drafting, revising, and editing as tools to create finished products. Having a method of keeping track of their process is essential to evaluating their performance.
One major tool which does this is “the sheet.” The idea is to “fill in the blanks,” which helps take the emphasis away from grades and places it on process. As the semester progresses, we write in dates when items are due, I record drafts students submit, as well as one-on-one conferences, and the students record dates along with me on their own sheets. I make it clear that everything the student does counts; the sheet helps both student and instructor record progress. During conferences, we compare our sheets.
Students who perform multiple drafts of a particular project, conference, and therefore place more items on their sheet, invariably excel. Much of this I leave up to them. Many times, they do more than I require or expect.
Because students come
into each course possessing differing skill levels, I focus primarily
on overall student performance. I think a student’s overall
grade should reflect his or her growth and willingness to adapt and
experiment with writing within the academic expectations and guidelines
of the university. Again, the sheet helps take care of much
of this, as does the portfolio.