People will recognize this chart from past semesters because it is always the same: when I give the students a proofreading assessment (one of the last Orientation Week activities), I get a whole range of results, from people who have no writing problems at all to people who are having trouble with all kinds of writing basics (punctuation, sentence structure, spelling), with a few extreme outliers as always. The way the assessment is constructed means that there is no fixed number of mistakes; students attempt to correct the errors they find, but that means they may miss some errors completely, their corrections might not be correct, or else they might introduce completely new errors as they change things that were actually fine to begin with. It's really fascinating for me to see what each person does (no two people ever turn in the same corrections!), and of course I am no longer surprised that I see this whole range of skill levels. What is most valuable, of course, is giving the students some very specific suggestions about what to start working on now at the start of the semester. The feedback they get from me contains links to help pages about punctuation, sentence structure, etc., and most of all my goal is to let them know that working on the nitty-gritty of writing will be an important part of the class... but they have also learned that the class is also about creativity and letting your imagination go wild, as they have already written two of their own stories and started brainstorming their own Storybook project. So, they may be feeling a little nervous about working on their writing, but they also know that it can be a lot of fun, and they are also aware that there are no grade penalties here, nothing to worry about... just some work to do, and a whole semester in which to do it! :-)
You can see the assessment itself here:
Fall 2014
Spring 2014
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