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NIFL-ASSESSMENT 2005: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:909] RE: Voice in writing

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From: Suzanne Grant (
Date: Tue Feb 15 2005 - 14:30:35 EST

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Shannon and all,

Voice can indeed be difficult to assess, certainly more difficult than other assessment areas, such as organization, content, mechanics, and structure.  Voice is harder to "quantify", is more a question of degree of engagement than of correct voice or incorrect voice, and is more subjective. 

Nonetheless, as we read and scored hundreds of student essays using various rubrics that did not include voice, we felt there was something missing * that these other rubrics did not capture our students' writing abilities. Our purpose in developing our rubric was to describe what we found, what our students could do.

We saw voice in the writing of even our beginning level adult English language learners. As the students' writing developed in other areas, the voice developed as well. 
We also learned (the hard way) that not all writing topics lend themselves to bringing out a writer's voice. We found that the key to generating voice in our adult student responses was an engaging topic. Our students are engaged by topics that provide them with an opportunity to validate their life experiences. 

We'd like to hear others weigh in on this.

Suzanne Grant and Pat Thurston

>>> 02/15/05 12:43 PM >>>

Since reading the rubric and  noting the inclusion of voice, I have spent an 
extraordinary amount of time  pondering this particular assessment area. It is 
a difficult area to assess.  Writing can have strong or weak elements of 
voice; however, it would be  difficult to assess someone's writing voice as right 
or wrong unlike, say,  grammatical errors. Voice is a product of the 
culmination of many things, and  whether it should be assessed outside of accelerated 
or gifted high school  programs or college English classes is an interesting 
question. To teach writing  students about voice is as necessary as teaching 
other elements of writing, but  because many of these students' lack of basic 
writing experience, I am not  "sold" on the benefits of using it as an assessment 

Adult and Community Education
Leon County  Florida  

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