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navigation index Chapter 2:  Transforming Texts, Transforming Assessment

In “Chapter 2,” Penrod explains how networked writing redefines traditional notions of the print text, writing assessment, and instructor-student relationships. To highlight principle arguments from Penrod’s chapter, I have presented them in a Question and Answer (Q&A) format below--a succinct, common rhetorical strategy for emphasizing key points in an online format. 

Q: How does networked writing change compositionists’ traditional notions of the print text?

A: Penrod explain that networked writing alters the character of the print “text” (p. 29).  She outlines the defining characteristics that differentiate e-texts from traditional print texts, such as “length,” “processing information,” “style,” “wit,” and "purpose" (p. 31).  Because these new writing forms demand new forms of assessment standards, compositionists' conceptualizations of the traditional print text must change as well.  For example, Penrod discusses the characteristics of the print “text” versus the “e-text”; for instance, many e-texts are shorter than paper texts (pp. 40-41). E-texts also demand students’ visual “rhetorical acumen”  (p. 42).

Q: What are some specific examples of computer-based writing, and how is it valued by some compositionists?

A: Penrod explains that “mundane” texts are ideal for “internetworked writing” because they emphasize professional, communicative discourse (35). She acknowledges that such e-texts are problematic in assessment because they resemble “everyday writing” that is not valued artistically (p. 45). For instance, some critics believe that “underlife” online postings (e.g. students more informal reactions to class materials and discussions) lower assessment standards (p. 45).

Q: How can compositionists evaluate e-texts?

A:  Penrod explores the exclusive, “monolithic” nature of print texts with respect to the inclusive, multimodal nature of e-texts (p. 46).  She asks, “How can we assess these multiple literacies” (p. 47)?  She argues that compositionists must rethink their concepts of the text in order to incorporate the “mundane text” into composition pedagogy (p. 51).  Writing assessment of e-texts must take into account the complexity and variety of online communal writing; therefore, the writing assessment of e-texts must be more imaginative and less standardized. Writing assessment must take into account “technological” literacy (p. 49).  Any new definitions of “good writing” in “networked environments” are dependent upon “situational literacy” or the rhetorical context of the online writing situation (pp. 58-59). In addition, she asserts that “authentic assessment” involves ongoing evaluation rather than the assessment of a completed writing assignment (p. 54).

Q: How does networked writing redefine the relationship among instructors and students with respect to assessment?

A: Penrod explains that instructors and their students share “power” in the “community of writers” online (pp. 62-63). Writing assessment should view students as “real writers” as opposed to “writer-apprentices” (p. 45).