Discovering the Common Grading Preferences, Patterns, and Policies of Those Who Assess Writing

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Year of Completion


First Advisor

R.H. Red Owl


Although considerable attention has been directed at improving the quality of students' writing, the investigation and definition of "good writing" has remained primarily within the realm of the normative and prescriptive. Social scientists and humanists often clash over the definition of valid and reliable writing assessment, as well as who should control writing assessment. The focus of this expository dissertation is the proposal of a methodological approach to gaining insight into these issues through the wider application of Social Judgment Analysis (SJA) to the field of writing assessment. Previously used in a limited capacity within the field of K-12 writing assessment, SJA offers great promise to those wishing to understand the grading preferences, patterns, and policies of all writing instructors, including those who assess postsecondary writing. The dissertation also demonstrates the application of SJA to the grading judgments of first-year college composition faculty. The aim of this portion of the study was to demonstrate the utility of the proposed SJA approach and to identify the professors' judgments and the consistency with which they applied their identified beliefs and assumptions in assigning grades to first-year essays. The demonstration also examined the impact of personal and demographic characteristics on the enactment of professors' grading preferences, patterns, and policies. Implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research regarding the application of SJA to writing assessment are discussed as well.