College Writing | An Elon University Academic Blog

Nov 16 2011

Understanding and Eliciting Feedback on Course Evaluations

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Telling students what you learned from their feedback is essential to ensure that students put a good effort into the evaluation process. Be sure to tell students that you want candid and constructive responses. Explain that the purpose of the form is to help you improve.

Resources about understanding students’ perceptions of learning:

Clayson, Dennis E. “Student Evaluations of Teaching: Are They Related to What Students Learn? A Meta-Analysis and Review of the Literature.Journal of Marketing Education 31.1 (2009): 16-30: “Students seem to associate rigor with negative instructor characteristics that override positive learning relationships….Students’ satisfaction with, or perception of, learning is related to the evaluations they give” (26).

Clayson, Dennis E., and Debra A. Haley. “Are Students Telling Us the Truth? A Critical Look at the Student Evaluation of Teaching.Marketing Education Review 21.2 (Summer 2011): 101-12: “Even if a small percentage of students give inaccurate or dishonest evaluations, the resultant [evaluation] cannot be taken at face value. The evaluations must be interpreted in light of other evidence. An administrator utilizing the evaluations may learn something about students’ opinions, perceptions, and attitudes towards instructors, but learn much less about the instructors’ actual performance” (108).

Smith, Calvin. “Building Effectiveness in Teaching through Targeted Evaluation and Response: Connecting Evaluation to Teaching Improvement in Higher Education.Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 33.5 (Oct. 2008): 517-33: “One of the greatest potential benefits [of connecting evaluations to teaching improvement] is the possibility of increasing students’ perceptions that evaluation activities have, are, and will be used to enhance the teachers’ practices and the course design; these are the two outcomes of evaluation that students value most” (530)


Nov 09 2011

Resources for Teaching Information Literacy

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What Can We Learn from Other Disciplines?

In 2000, the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, published the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. According to the ACRL, an information literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the nature and extent of the information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into his or her knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

Find performance indicators and outcomes for each of these standards here.

Other resources include

Information Literacy Proposal for Elon’s Quality Enhancement Plan (Megan Squire and Randy Piland):

Information  Literacy in Rhetoric and Composition Studies, a wiki published by the Association of College and Research Libraries:

Teaching Resources from Temple University’s Media Education Lab

Sep 21 2011

Technology Tool – Digication

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Digication ( is an e-portfolio system. All Elon students have a Digication account tied to their Elon email/Gmail account. Faculty must create an account by contacting the Technology Helpdesk (278-5200; and asking to have an account created.

Uses of Digication include

  • Helping students understand how to create and disseminate texts in an electronic form
  • Creating and sharing portfolios of student work. For example, PWR seniors create a digital portfolio to share their work with PWR faculty and, if they wish, future employers.
  • Creating projects for showcases, such as the College Writing showcase
  • A vehicle for sharing faculty scholarship

Apr 13 2011

Strategies for Using Visuals in Writing Assignments

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Illustrating Arguments (Jean Schwind & Paula Patch) – activities and results from the Revson Digital Literacies Project (see related post)
Creating Visual Representations of Information (Jessie Moore)

  1. Students collect data and practice representing it in a visual form (table, graph, illustration, etc.). The class can compare different representations and discuss what each version emphasizes/deemphasizes, etc.
  2. Jessie’s favorite version—Colors of M&Ms
  • Provide each student/group with a package of M&Ms. Ask them to count the number of M&Ms in each color. (At this point, the whole class could create a table with “actual per packet,” “total,” and “average” information represented.)
  • Ask each student/group to create a visual representation comparing the amount of candies in each color included in their packet.
  • Give students information about the reported color break-down, as provided on the M&Ms website. (See handout)
  • Ask each student/group to create a second visual, comparing their actual color distribution with the company’s reported distribution.