” Toward a Rhetorically Sensitive Assessment Model for New Media Composition” – Crystal Van Kooten Annotated Bibliography Entry

VanKooten, Crystal. “Toward a Rhetorically Sensitive Assessment Model for New Media Composition.” Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation. Eds. Heidi A McKee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss. Computers and Composition Digital Press, 2013. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.

Situating herself inside three established assessment models — Paul Allison (2009), Eve Bearne (2009), and Michael Neal (2011)– Van Kooten creates a new model meant to assess new media composition. This adaptable model takes into account both process and product, functional and rhetorical literacies, and requires student self-assessment and reflection . Van Kooten details the theory and framework for the model, then demonstrates — using student voices — the implementation and assessment of it.  The chapter functions as a true multi-modal text, replete with 7 short videos (with accompanying transcripts) to demonstrate the kinds of “multifaceted logic” and “layers of media” that are employed using a variety of rhetorical and technical features to accomplish a specific purpose for a particular audience.

Van Kooten narrates the difficulty in creating a new media assessment model and her journey toward the model she unveils here. She notes that the first attempts she made, along with her students who collaboratively created the rubric for their own work, were outgrowths of the print media rubrics, and that they quickly revealed their shortcomings, due to the affordances of various media that could be incorporated. For example, arguments are presented differently using sound and visuals, and what constitutes evidence and organization varies by media.  Michael Neal (2011) proposed that the proliferation of multi-modal texts has created what he calls a “kairotic juncture” — an opportunity for a new model, which Van Kooten responds to, however cautiously, noting that “there is currently no agreed-upon language or vocabulary for discussing new media texts” nor any stability in new media genres.  She hopes the model she proposes opens the conversation about new media assessment and the opportunity for further evolutions that remain grounded in “a solid theory of writing assessment itself.”

Van Kooten offers three criteria for assessment:

  1. fulfillment of purpose and direction to audience;
  2. the use of a multifaceted logic through consideration of layers of media; and
  3. the use of rhetorical and technical features for effect.
Crystal Van Kooten's model of New Media assessment of multi-modal compositions.

Van Kooten’s model for assessment of New Media Composition includes both functional and rhetorical literacies.

She also offers two worksheets to help students set both functional and rhetorical goals for their work, involving them in the assessment process and requiring metacognition and reflection — ways of assessing both process and product.

It is my opinion that Van Kooten has created a plausible model, grounded in both (print) writing assessment theory and multi-modal composition theory, that will become an oft-cited text as this conversation continues. This article is a useful source for a go-to model that can be adapted for classroom use.

As mentioned, there are seven accompanying videos that demonstrate new media compositions and turn the chapter itself into a multi-modal piece. Here is a metacognitive piece where one of Van Kooten’s students overdubs his piece with his own narration of the process. This itself is a viable product, as we have director’s cuts with commentary on the special editions of movies and TV episodes, where the audience is privileged to have a window into the mind of the director or actor.


(I am unable to upload and embed the video as it exceeds the maximum allowable file size for WordPress).



3 Responses to ” Toward a Rhetorically Sensitive Assessment Model for New Media Composition” – Crystal Van Kooten Annotated Bibliography Entry

  1. Great visual to start it all off – really helps me visualize the summary that follows. This post convinces me that I must read this publication in its entirety as part of my Object of Study research (MOOCs in Composition), thanks to elements summarized in your post. It brought to mind the WPA Outcomes and the history of its publication. The language of that document is purposefully crafted to make room for creating new “language or vocabulary for discussing new media texts” (Neal, as cited in Maury’s post), but reading your summary does make me wonder if many teachers working with new media texts aren’t trapped into a text-based vocabulary system anyway – a lens based on an Outcomes statement that is very much situated in that culture.

    • Hi, Amy! I believe you are right. Many teachers working with new media are trapped in a text-based vocabulary system, and rather than redesigning assignments and assessments (or courses) from the ground up, they tack them on in the name of “engagement” or to meet some QEP or evaluation plan goal to “utilize more technology in lessons.”

  2. My undergraduate and master’s experiences did not prepare me for an academic experience that actually offered practical, useable professional and pedagogical tools to improve what I do on daily basis. As a result, I fully expected PhD coursework to confine itself to the realms of literary and critical theory, the basis of my academic experiences to this point. What a pleasure to discover practical applications like VanKooten’s model for assessing new media composition. Maury, your excellent summary motivates me to read the chapter and check out her assessment model. I am especially pleased that you consider the model plausible, as I value your evaluation and experience as classroom teacher, professional communicator, and PhD student.

    I am testing a new (to me) way of teaching what is in essence a first-year writing class that incorporates required new media composition. Required assignments are sensitive to “fulfillment of purpose and direction to audience” (as you summarized in your blog post) and assessed in terms of the purpose and audience direction identified by the students. It’s proving a daunting task, to me and to the students. We experienced our first complete breakdown in activity (Spinuzzi’s term used intentionally) during last week’s class when we realized that we did not effectively communicate about the object of study in their first part of their first portfolio assignment. They took the object of study to be the object of a writing prompt (in this case, an op-ed), while I intended their object of study to be their developing portfolio response to the prompt.

    My point is that I have reached Neal’s “kairotic juncture” and am in the process of developing new models for assignment and assessment of traditional print and new media projects in FYC based on readings and course work to date. The process so far has been messy and unexpectedly complicated, one that will likely require multiple attempts to be truly successful. Your summary, this article, and the entire text (DWAE) comes at a very good time for me, as it offers both theoretical and practical underpinnings and suggestions for the task I’ve undertaken.

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