SDSUs Writing Placement Assessme nt (WPA) Rhetoric and
SDSUs Writing Placement Assessme nt (WPA) Rhetoric and Writing Studies Department San Diego State University What is the WPA? The WPA is a writing placement tool.
It is a quick, simple tool for placing students in an upper division writing class. (In much of the rest of the CSU there is no placement tool and students automatically take an upper division course). It is part of the GWAR requirement, a CSUwide mandated provision (GWAR = graduate writing assessment requirement). It emerged out of input from many stakeholders employers, teachers, scholars, etc.
The CSU requires campuses to show their students are on track to write at the level appropriate for graduation. This has to be done before graduation. The CSU also wants students to have the opportunity to participate in writing-intensive classes. These can be in the students major (when offered) or can be one of a range of GE courses. Reports such as Academically Adrift suggest writing and reading-intensive classes with opportunity for feedback, revision, discussion, etc., produce key benefits that help
students in their careers, personal and civic lives. In summary - students take the WPA to show they are on track to write at the level appropriate for graduation AND are ready to take an upper division writing course. Roughly 80-85% of students who take the WPA are found to be on track. Some are ahead, and some need some more help. The WPA emphasizes the ability to analyze and
evaluate arguments Who takes the WPA? When? Who takes the WPA and when? SDSU students take the WPA the semester they have achieved junior status (60 units). (Transfer students can take the WPA once they have received an offer of admissions.)
Students place into one of three categories based on test results. GWAR Mj Note: the ~85% of students who score 8 are meeting expectations and are on track to write at the level expected at graduation. They are ready to take a writing intensive upper division course which will help them write at this level.
They have not failed the test. The 5-8% of students who score 10 are already at the level expected at graduation. More on the WPA What is the format for the WPA? Who scores the WPA?
How are the essays scored? Identify and provide a brief explanation of the authors argument; Identify two persuasive strategies that the author uses to support his or her argument and analyze how those strategies might persuade the reader to support the claim;
Discuss the assumption(s) on which the argument is based; Evaluate the extent to which the reader would find the argument convincing. The WPA prompt What are students being asked to do? Explain Explain the point of the authors argument.
Explain Explain how the author is using rhetorical strategies to persuade an audience. Explain Explain the underlying assumptions of the authors argument. Analyze and evaluate Most important: analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of these components.
What is the reading like? The reading (typically 2 pages) is usually an editorial selected from newspapers and magazines like the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, etc. (So one way of practicing is to read op-eds in these publications and analyze them).
Who reads the WPA? Faculty from across the campus are WPA readers. Most of the readers are from the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies. Two independent readers score each exam.
Scores are from 2-5 each. How are essays scored? Using holistic scoring criteria, evaluators score essays on the writer's ability to analyze a written argument; to develop and organize ideas; to support these ideas with evidence or specific examples; to understand the essay's intended audience;
to employ language skillfully; and to demonstrate appropriate paragraphing, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. What is the pass rate? Through June 2017, 9 percent of students who took the exam needed two courses to clear the GWAR requirement (RWS 280 or Ling 281 and an upper division writing course). 81 percent demonstrated they were on
track to take an upper division writing course. They needed one class to satisfy the GWAR. 10 percent were ahead of expectations and already satisfied the GWAR. How does the WPA relate to SDSUs student learning goals? The WPA maps onto the RWS 100 and 200 student learning outcomes.
The WPA helps students fulfill SDSUs general education goals in Communication and Critical thinking. RWS 100 Student Learning Outcome s Analyze a variety of texts to demonstrate rhetorical knowledge of an arguments project, claim, audience, genre, rhetorical appeals, rhetorical strategies (including
evidence), and assumptions. Evaluate arguments and their evidence through a process of critical inquiry. Locate, evaluate, and incorporate material from sources into their writing projects. Where can I find out more about the WPA? WPA
Web Page http://wpa.sdsu.edu/ There are videos, sample exams, criteria, sample scored student exams, definition of terms, etc.
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