Author Archives: jeffnaftzinger

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PhD Student

Broad, Bob: “More Work For Teacher?: Possible Futures of Teaching Writing in the Age of Computerized Assessment”


I think Bob Broad would fall around 3. At this point, he’s opposed to AES because it doesn’t assess what we’re trying to teach students, but, if at some point AES can assess rhetorical choices (audience, tone, etc.), then he wouldn’t mind considering using it in his classes.



Broad says that one of the biggest selling points that the makers/marketers of AES are espousing is that it will save the instructor so much time, and they can then use that extra time to do other more important things (Broad compares this argument to the one made by the people who marketed vacuums to women in the 20th century). While these items do actually make tasks easier, the result isn’t free time, it’s time you’re then forced to use for other things. In the case of the instructor, it’s teaching students how to write for the machine, not how to actually write. Broad closes the essay by saying he isn’t totally, 100% opposed to AES. If they can make a machine that can actually assess rhetorical choices instead of just facts and sentence structure, then he would consider using it in the classroom.



  • That what we’re trying to teach students about writing (i.e. how to make rhetorical choices effectively) are much more important than things like paragraph length, sentence structure, and being 100% factual. 
  • That ETS only claims to listen to instructors about what they want/need, and instead tries too hard to shape what teachers are doing.
  • That the time freed up by using AES would immediately be redirected into some other non-essential task.


Points of Interest

  • I thought the AES : Teachers :: Vacuum/Stove : Women example that Broad starts this essay with was a really interesting comparison. Not only for the explicit reasons that Broad states, but also because it subtly paints AES as being something that merely handles an unpleasant task as opposed to actually benefitting students/teachers.
  • I also liked the way that Broad remained hopeful that one day AES could actually be useful, it just needs to focus on what we’re actually teaching, not just what ETS is capable of assessing at the moment.
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


Bonsignore: “Career ePortfolios: Recognizing and Promoting Employable Skills” (Chapter 6)

This article talks about the why and how of the “Career ePortfolio” that is being experimented with at the New York City College of Technology. This portfolio, though it can be—and sometimes is—used as a tool for assessment in the classroom, is mostly used as a supplementary information to be included in a resume when students graduate and apply for jobs. The portfolios that the students make collect work that they have done throughout their four years at “City Tech,” and are intended to highlight and develop the professional persona of the student as they enter the job market. In addition to housing the student’s work, the portfolio also holds a “reflective statement” about the student’s “professional goals.” The students are encouraged to use “design elements such as colors, backgrounds, graphics, and fonts that show their work at its best.” In order to facilitate this process, teachers are given some training on portfolios, and the school has also set-up new spaces that make it possible for students to work on these portfolios. These portfolios encourage students to think harder about the identities they’re creating through their writing, and also to think about the audience/s they’re appealing to with their writing. Bonsignore also claims that because the students start to understand how this portfolio will help them in the real world, they’re generally very receptive to using them, and put in quite a bit of effort.


Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


Elbow and Belanoff: “Portfolios as a Substitute for Proficiency Examinations”

In this article, Elbow and Belanoff discuss the why and how of portfolios that the authors were experimenting with at Stony Brook. Elbow and Belanoff acknowledge that there are some difficulties in using the portfolio system, especially for teachers who are using it for the first time, but they really like how portfolios contrast the “plastic” and “safe” proficiency exam. The portfolio system encourages students to “show some genuine thought and investment” in their writing, while the proficiency exam encourages them to stick to tropes and formulas. Elbow and Belanoff also tout the positive effects that portfolios have on teachers and grades. Instructors “retain almost complete power” over their students’ grades, but other instructors are given a little bit of suggestion in assessment. The authors say that this dynamic allows instructors on both sides to give better feedback to students, because they’re worried less about grades and more about the student improving.

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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


Feeling Welcome In the Physical and Networked Classroom – Jeff


Towards the end of Penrod’s “Access Before Assessment” chapter, she discusses the “ethical” issue of “how students are welcomed in networked environments” (152). She says that when students don’t feel welcomed into “networked environments in the classroom,” they tend to withdraw, and won’t participate in “class listservs, blogs, and chat[s]” (152). However, we can also see this lack of participation in more traditional classroom environments, when students don’t feel welcomed, they don’t participate in the in-class discussions, or other activities. I think it would be interesting to see if these groups of students who feel unwelcome are the same in both environments, if the groups who feel welcome in-class feel unwelcome in the networked environment, and vice versa.


I think that students who feel unwelcome in the in-class environment will feel more welcome in the networked environment, while those who feel welcome in the in-class environment will feel unwelcome in the networked environment.


Observe two or more classes that use a hybrid in-class/networked environment and note which students participate online and which students participate in class. Record classroom environment, and archive networked space.

Data Collection

Code for the levels/types of participation in the two different environments

Identify students who participate in one environment and not the other and discuss how un/welcome they feel in those environments, and what they attribute their participation, or lack thereof too.


What practices can we include in/out of the class to try and bridge the gap between these students’ feelings of being welcome in a particular environment?


Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Uncategorized


The Intersections of Race and College Admissions Practices by Joe and Jeff


Posted by on September 26, 2013 in Uncategorized