A tale of two rubrics: Realigning genre instruction through improved response rubrics in a writing-intensive physics course

John Yukio Yoritomo, Nicole Turnipseed, Maxx Joseph Villotti, Aric Tate, Kelly Searsmith, Matthias Grosse Perdekamp, Paul Prior, Julie L. Zilles

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


STEM instructors are often not well prepared to assist students in developing as writers or to respond to student writing effectively. Recognizing this challenge, STEM and Writing Studies faculty and graduate students created a long-term collaboration, Writing Across Engineering (WAE), in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. By participation in WAE, the instructional staff of a writing-intensive physics course engaged in a year-long effort to explore and apply evidence-based best practices for writing instruction. In this paper, we focus on how changes in the rubrics for responding to/grading student writing became central to redesigning instruction. A key disconnect was identified between the learning goals for writing, implicit in the course materials and thus not communicated to students, and the details of instructional practice. Changes to the grading rubrics, as well as assignments, addressed this disconnect by shifting response practices away from being heavily focused on strict adherence to specific text conventions. Rather, response became more comprehensive, incorporating best practices from Writing Studies, such as building genre awareness, teaching writing as a process, and using prioritized, selective feedback. The new rubrics also better aligned with the original learning goals and enabled those goals to be both communicated to students and explicitly expressed in the course. We conclude with a discussion of lessons learned and the potential for uptake in other courses and institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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