Penrod’s work is an invaluable resource for the following audiences in the fields of Rhetoric and Composition, Computers and Writing, and Educational Measurement: writing instructors, writing program administrators, and composition scholars; writing and educational assessment specialists and literacy scholars; and graduate students and teaching assistants.
I enumerate the importance of Penrod’s work below with respect to her works' significance to various audiences.
Penrod’s work supports the most current theoretical and pedagogical assessment paradigm—"social constructivism"—with respect to "convergence."
Significance: Penrod’s work frames writing assessment in terms of the social constructivist paradigm, the most relevant and progressive paradigm in which to conduct writing assessment research and “direct” writing assessment in Composition. Social constructivist writing assessment models emphasize “context” and reflect actual teaching, learning, and institutional values, and these models require justification through research. Scholars Yancey (1999), Huot (2002), and White (2005)—authors Penrod cites—all recognize and support the current rhetorical, historical, and local, social constructivist assessment paradigm and terminology in their works. Echoing social constructivist theory and pedagogy throughout her work, Penrod situates “convergence” as a historical, contextual, rhetorical, writing assessment issue. For instance, she advocates “deep,” direct assessment through locally-contextualized, “qualitative” online writing databases (e.g. OLR and TOPIC/ICON systems) and e-portfolios, and she criticizes holistic essay grading software programs (e.g., E-Rater) based on indirect, psychometric assessment principles.
Audiences: Penrod's discussions concerning networked writing theory and pedagogy within the social constructivist paradigm proves useful for scholars interested in constructing theoretical and/or pedagogical writing assessment models involving e-texts. Writing program administrators in Composition, Computers and Writing, and Education may use Penrod’s work to construct institutional, large-scale, high-stakes writing assessment models that include hypertextual assignments; furthermore, Composition and/or Computers and Writing instructors may use Penrod's framework to construct assessment models that join “hot” and “cool” technologies. In particular, Penrod discusses her integration of “hot” and “cool” technologies in her own courses, such as her “Writing for Electronic Communities” course (p. 116). Finally, writing specialists and graduate students interested in publishing assessment scholarship may rely on Penrod’s theoretical and pedagogical frameworks with respect to networked writing.
Penrod’s discussion of "convergence" joins the scholarship of two fields in Rhetoric and Composition —"Computers and Writing" and "Writing Assessment."
Significance: Penrod’s “convergence” not only melds writing assessment and computer technologies but also merges the most relevant scholarship from two disciplines in the field of Rhetoric and Composition—"Computers and Writing" and "Writing Assessment." Through the process of technological “convergence,” Penrod discusses how “material” writing technologies evolve as “material” cultural, social, political, and economic forces influence literacy practices. Haas (1996) broadly calls this phenomenon the “materiality of literacy” in the title of her influential work Writing Technology: Studies on the Materiality of Literacy. Consequently, Penrod cites many prominent authors Computers and Writing scholars study regarding electronic literacy, such as Blair and Takayoshi (1997), Bolter and Grusin (2002), Haas (1996), Kress (2003), Selfe (1999), and Yancey (2004), among others. Because electronic literacy practices intersect with writing assessment pedagogies, Penrod elaborates on how technological “convergence” remediates writing assessment models and faculty members’ responsibilities in creating assessment models for e-texts--a pressing concern for writing asessment specialists. Penrod cites writing assessment scholars who currently ground their work in contemporary, social constructivist, writing assessment models, such as Broad (2003), Huot (2002), White (1994), and Yancey (2004). Some authors, like Penrod and Yancey, bridge both disciplines as Computers and Writing and Writing Assessment specialists.
Audiences: Penrod primarily focuses on networked writing, e-texts, and electronic literacies, an important focus for scholars in Computers and Writing. For instance, Computers and Writing scholars researching the “material” socio-economic impact on the issue of “access” to “e-literacy” practices may cite Penrod’s work. However, Writing Assessment scholars may cite Penrod’s work as an outstanding example of the current, social constructivist approach for developing writing assessment models (whether or not these scholars are interested in developing networked writing assessment models themselves). For example, Penrod argues for the application of Bob Broad’s (2003) “Dynamic Criteria Mapping” (DCM) social constructivist research model, a research model that identifies, defines, constructs, and maps the rhetorical values that instructors “articulate” during acts of writing assessment. Echoing the work of Broad, she calls on compositionists to “articulate” their values in assessing e-texts within their localized assessment contexts (p. 170). In particular, Penrod encourages the use of DMC to enact curricular changes to support networked writing (108).
However, Penrod’s scholarship may prove less accessible to graduate students or scholars entering the fields of Computers and Writing and Writing Assessment. Penrod’s argument is sophisticated, and her work relies on the arguments of the previously mentioned authors. For example, Penrod refers to Yancey’s (1999) “fourth wave” without mentioning the specifics of Yancey’s historical treatment of writing assessment. Penrod’s arguments, which she scaffolds upon exhaustive research, leave little room for her to provide detailed background information on the authors' arguments she includes. Therefore, new scholars to the field should study the canonical texts she cites, such as Yancey (1999) and Bolter and Grusin (2002), to gain a deeper appreciation of the undergirding beneath Penrod’s arguments.
Penrod provides useful point-by-point frameworks, heuristics, and guidelines for addressing writing assessment in networked environments.
Significance: Penrod does not provide specific pedagogical rules, for social constructivism calls for locally contextualized programs, not formulaic guidelines. However Penrod provides general guidelines for addressing networked assessment issues. In Chapter 2, Penrod provides six guidelines for addressing the “diversity found in e-texts” (pp. 52-53). She also includes criteria for assessing e-texts (e.g., “Students exhibit that online writing is a constructive process […]”) with corresponding sample assignments (e.g., “Students create their own discourse rules […]”) (pp. 55-56). In “Chapter 4,” she supplies guidelines for “deep” and “outcomes-based” assessment in networked composition classrooms.
Audiences: Writing instructors and writing program administrators planning to integrate networked writing into their classrooms or programs will find Penrod’s reconceptualization of traditional writing assessment models useful. Penrod adapts various scholars’ assessment frameworks, such as Dupuis (1997), Bruffee (1993), and Maykut and Morehouse (1994), to accommodate networked writing environments and assessment models.
Penrod calls on compositionists to confront the political, social, and economic obstacles to "convergence" and technological "access."
Significance: Penrod identifies various obstacles to students’ access to computer technologies and the corresponding multiple literacies associated with networked writing—the “digital divide” (p. 141), “law of suppression of radical potential,” (p. 142), and the corporatization of higher education. Consequently, Penrod calls for compositionists to become involved in gaining access to networked writing technologies for their students before computer technologies are imposed upon them by outside social forces and interests.
Audiences: Penrod explains that she wrote her book to help foster qualitative, direct assessment models and to abandon quantitative, indirect assessment frameworks. Penrod’s call-to-action for self-empowerment in networked writing should resonate with and all those involved in gaining access to computer-based writing resources, and all those involved in the selection, creation, and/or implementation of corresponding writing assessment measures.