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Assessing Multimedia Compositions

Assessment of multimedia composing is a very young discipline. Will our learning expectations and criteria for composing and evaluating paper essays suffice? Will we need to refashion those expectations and criteria for the new writing? The resources in this collection suggest that yes, we need to revise both.

The first of the resources we have included in this collection, the NCTE "21st Century Curriculum and Assessment Framework," adds new learning expectation to old ones, e.g., “create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts.” In a section headed “Implications of the Framework for Assessments,” the document argues that “assessments need to take into consideration both traditional components and elements that may be different for 21st century student work.” In the list of “traditional elements” the authors include “relevance and reliability of information used in the work” and “effectiveness of work in achieving its purpose.” In the list of “newer elements,” the authors include “facility of students with technology tools” and “extent to which images and sound may amplify text.”

This pattern of adding the new to the old is carried through in our second resource, “Assessing Multimedia Projects,” a self-styled “crib sheet” for teachers who have brought multimedia work into their writing classrooms. The authors give us first a list of print-based criteria, including such items as “thesis/major focus,” “organization/coherence,” and “grammar." They follow with a suggestive list of “additional (rhetorical) criteria, including “navigation,” “usability,” "accessibility,” and “color scheme.”

While the crib sheet focuses only on multimedia products, the materials from Kevin Hodgson and Paul Allison remind us of an “old” principle of teaching that carries over to digital composing: focus on process as well as product. Both add new expectations and criteria to old. Both use student self-assessments that include performance expectations for creating a text. Hodgson also uses a rubric for evaluating a finished text; for Allison, the completed self-assessment guides his final assessment. In short: they show options for grappling with the move into multimedia projects.

Where will we go from here in the assessment of multimedia projects? We predict that the process will continue to evolve.  Whatever learning expectations and criteria may emerge, we foresee that they will derive from the disciplines of rhetoric, cognitive psychology, and aesthetics: rhetoric because we are still dealing with human-to-human communication; cognitive psychology because we will be learning about the ways in which the mind processes these new, often multimodal compositions; and aesthetics because we respond to what our cultures judge to be beautiful.

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Comments

dogtrax's picture

As a colleague of Anne and Charlie in our Writing Project and in our book project (Teaching the New Writing), I can't be objective here, but I do want to point out that in workshops and conferences that I lead or attend, the question often comes up from teachers: How do I justify the use of technology when my teaching day is already full?

The issue of assessment tools is one of the answers to that question, because good assessment can cover a lot of ground beyond just the technology being used. The technology can fade into the background as the learning, whatever the content area is, takes the foreground. A good assessment tool can convince the wary administration that technology is not just fluff, but a central part of the learning environment. A good assessment tool can show growth in the student. A good tool will guide students forward.

I almost feel it is more critical than ever to have rubrics and formative/summative assessment integrated fully into technology-centered project-based learning, and to share those tools out with others. Align your tools to your local, state and national curriculum standards, and show that the things we often talk about -- student engagement, authentic writing and more -- are not "extras" but "essentials."

Kevin

 

Gail Desler's picture

I agree with you, Kevin, that it is "more critical than ever to have rubrics and formative/summative
assessment integrated fully into technology-centered project-based
learning, and to share those tools out with others." This morning, I posted on the NWP Multimedia Assessment Project page, but that was before seeing your comment on this discussion. I referenced the Glogster rubric you shared with the Voices on the Gulf community. Thanks for providing a great assessment and discussion tool, one that works beautifully with that particular technology.

Given the almost unlimited, mix 'n match kinds of multimedia projects students might organically create or be assigned, I'd love to see a cafeteria style set of rubrics that, depending on a particular project, would allow me to move down the line and pick out the areas I'd like to assess. For instance, if I were assigning a multimedia piece on the Civil Rights era, I'd want to add to my asssessment tray guidelines and expectations for selecting primary source video clips, audio files, and images. Of if the the assignment were to create a documentary on a community event, for instance, I'd most likely be looking for rubrics that would provide students with a roadmap to creating their own image, audio, and video files.

As always, thanks so much for all your pioneering efforts!

 

anne-charlie's picture
on Oct 30 2012

Resources in this collection

NCTE 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment Framework
Assessing Multimedia Projects Crib Sheet
Bringing Digital Books to Life
Power Users' Guide
Assessing Multimedia Compositions: Additional Resources