Proposal: Issues of Standardized Testing

One of the biggest challenges composition instructors face is the way students initially approach writing. Most first-year/freshmen students are familiar with the five-paragraph essay, timed essay prompts and standardized writing. This type of writing tends to marginalize important aspects such as revision, reflection, brainstorming (as with many standardized test, students are NOT given any scratch paper to compose an outline or plan their ‘3 main points’) and portfolio assessment.

Instructors at the collegiate level have to do their best to decompose their writing styles within a limited time frame, but most students who do not spend a lot of time thinking about their own writing will continue to write this way. Perhaps composition is somehow winning the war, as news broke this week that in 2016, the SAT will make the essay portion of the test optional. But prior to these planned changes, students were taught to make up events while writing or given questions to answer that included fictional settings and characters, which in fact will not help students at the college level (sometimes there is no concern with factual accuracy, so these tests are encouraging students to make up events, as long as words fill up the blank pages!).

What I am proposing is a creating a video mash up that brings awareness to standardize testing/writing and how it can stifle creativity. I don’t think many know about the idea of teaching to the test and the issues that come along with the belief that students should retain the same exact information for one national (or state) test, regardless of thinking about a students’ background, nationality, or career aspirations/interests.

With this video I am not looking to end standardizing/prompt writing, but simply let others know there’s more that meets the eye when we practice ‘timed-essays’ in a classroom setting and issues that go along with high-school level writing. I could also raise awareness of how college officials and administrators rely on testing scores and numbers to decide whether an individual student should be accepted. Overall, I think this is a unique topic to explore, especially using multimodal communication.

I think my deep understanding of composition studies, along with my interest in pop culture (television, music, movies, celebrity) will allow me to blend the two worlds together in an interesting and compelling way.

Mapping Untold Stories

I set out on my local community college campus, Rowan College at Gloucester County formally known as Gloucester County College. Looking around for objects, which turned into mapping different paths on campus. At first I thought that I had known my work. I have been here for five years, but after mapping, I realized that the campus I spend hours on each weekday was as strange, foreign land.

The maps I created on Mapping Untold Stories show people paths and the objects that control not only some paths but create an unspoken life on the campus.

This project gave me insight to others who worked on campus as well. Their wealth of information enabled the success of proper mapping. By talking to those who were more familiar with specific buildings I was able to gather information I was not entirely sure of. Each encounter gave me more knowledge about the campus’ environment than the next. It appeared that the seemingly meaningless knowledge of some, made for the best stories in maps.