"I administered multiple choice exams from 1973-78 until I realized how trivial and insulting the questions were. Students needn’t have read the text; Cliffsnotes would’ve done nicely. The exams also encouraged laziness in myself. A quick scoring by machine, a few (or many) clickety-clacks, and the grade was recorded. And I hadn’t prepared the entire exam by myself—parts came from a testing service. In effect I was saying: “I don’t have time to evaluate your progress.” Since then, I have used essay questions that grow out of the discussions, lectures, and readings. I no longer teach to the exam but write the exam based on the teaching. My exams encourage students to develop and sustain a critical argument, identify and outline essentials, subordinate details, and develop a sense of perspective. I have learned to make exams a part of the learning process rather than a mere test of it."
-- Dale Salwak, Citrus College, Glendora, California
35 years of teaching
Evaluating Writing: The Role of Teachers' Knowledge about Text, Learning, and Culture
These essays assume that we need to distinguish between grading and evaluation, develop our ability to describe students' writing, connect teaching and evaluation, and continually reexamine the assumptions and practices that guide our evaluation of student writing.