navigation index Chapter 6:  Access Before Assessment?

In “Chapter 6,” Penrod discusses “access” issues to address the “digital divide” and to develop ethical writing assessment practices. 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: Why is the issue of access a pressing concern for compositionists?

A: Penrod discusses the “digital divide,” in which students’ lack of access to computer technologies is connected to their socioeconomic status (p. 141).  Compositionists need to reflect on how they and their students can access and use various writing technologies. More specifically, Penrod calls for compositionists’ active involvement in issues of technological access, for access precedes assessment.  She calls for faculty engagement to prevent the imposition of technologies by engaging in in-service technology workshops and collaborative discussions with colleagues and K-12 teachers and by writing scholarship that focuses on composition software development.

Another aspect of the “digital divide” involves the “market model” university, which favors technology programs that generate revenue over humanities programs (pp. 142-143). Penrod argues that the market-model emphasizes current-traditional notions of writing assessment and discourages access to multiple literacies.

Q: What is ethical writing assessment?

A:  Penrod argues for “ethical” and “fair” assessment procedures online (p. 151). Consequently, the online community, the “local we,” should establish assessment standards (p. 153). She explains, “[E]very student must feel a part of the ongoing writing in the internetworked discussions so his or her work can be judged as fairly as the next one’s” (p. 152).