Faculty needed to grade writing exam

By Kelly Canright

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Faculty members are not responding to recruiting efforts to evaluate the results of the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam.

"The exam is part of a general program of writing. It is meant to be taken after general education requirements have been completed to advise students about their writing proficiency at that time and the courses they should take," said Michael Gottfredson, vice provost of undergraduate education.

This semester the university's Composition Board sent out the semi-annual invitation to all faculty and administrators to participate in the evaluation sessions of the writing exam.

Last year, only half the number of faculty needed 130 faculty members, fewer than 10 percent of those contacted responded to the board's invitation to participate in evaluation sessions.

For the 1994-95 school year, even fewer members of the academic community have responded.

"Only 130 faculty have responded, and we sent out a few thousand letters to all teaching faculty and administrators," said Marvin Diogenes, acting coordinator of the university Composition Board.

"We need approximately 360 graders a year," Diogenes said.

"The last couple of years, we have gone to

extraordinary measures like having our clerical staff call people who had signed up before to sign up again," Diogenes said.

The problem has been extreme since 1992, Diogenes said.

"I think the response has varied greatly over time, but I am very concerned about faculty response," said Gottfredson.

These sessions are a valuable form of faculty service as they offer members of varied disciplines an opportunity to discuss and assess undergraduate writing in a collegial setting, Diogenes said.

"The incentive here is to perform a faculty service," Diogenes said.

"It offers members of different disciplines the opportunity to assess undergraduate writing and often leads to discussions about how to incorporate writing in undergraduate education," he added.

"The faculty are very busy with research and teaching responsibilities. Many of them are on planning teams for the core curriculum and redesigning undergraduate education," Diogenes said.

"A four-hour time commitment once a year would be sufficient," Diogenes said. "The grading takes place from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1-5 p.m., usually on a Thursday or Friday," Diogenes said.

The grading only takes place six or seven times during the semester, he said.

"There are two problems," said Beth Harrison, chair of the Intercollegiate Writing Committee.

"One is that the grading seems like a huge time commitment. The other thing is there is probably some sense that writing is for the English department," she said.

"Our students need to have more help with their writing," Harrison said.

"The standard of writing has been low for a while now. Students in general do not have great skill in writing. When students graduate, writing is indeed one of the greatest skills they could have."

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