Economics Writing Assessment

Submitted by Erik Huntsinger on
What is the Purpose of the Assessment?

To learn the strenghts and weaknesses of ECN students' writing abilities, to formulate an improvement plan based on the results, and measure the outcomes of the changes in their writing.

Describe the necessity for this assessment

Students were underperforming in support/development, organization/formatting, and citations.

Describe how the practice will be implemented

ECN faculty worked with librarians to create an assignment where students would share their research sources for comment by them before submitting the essay, along with a guide for how to identify high quality sources. Added a template paper for students to use as a model when submitting their paper. Added a citations resource page so students can align their citations with the APA format required.

Interpret, compare, and describe the results

More students in our spring 2022 sample showed excelling in support/development and organization/format then in our spring 2021 sample, suggesting many students benefited from our interventions related to interactions with the librarians and in the use of the standard ECN essay template (yet some students demonstrated less proficiency).  Students overall actually did worse in the use of citations, suggesting this intervention was not powerful.

After analyzing, and reflecting on the outcome, what are the next steps?

We will continue to work wtih the librarians to provide our ECN students  feedback on the quality of sources; in fact we are collaborating with them on an information literacy assessment of our students' work for fall 2022.  We will continue to use our standard ECN template to help with organization and formatting.  We want to begin using Grammarly or similar app to have students report on their language use and mechanics before submitting their final paper.


The ECN faculty were interested in assessing our students' writing skills as we assign reserach papers to them each semester using the standard writing rubric.  Students' essays were collected at the end of the fall 2020 semester for analysis in spring 2021. This began with an inter-rater reliability study to normalize our responses, followed by assessing for baseline data. In summer we reviewed the results and identified multiple areas for intervention, including the inclusion of librarians to give students feedback on their sources prior to writing the paper, to include resources on how to identify high-quality sources and how to cite in APA format, and submissions of both an outline and rough draft prior to the final draft so as to give students an opportunity to learn from instructor feedback and make improvements.  The results were mixed, showing that in some areas (format/organization, support/development) more students were excelling while other students were still not proficient.  We will work on shoring up mechanics/language through student submission of grammarly reports and an assignment where they reflect on feedback given by instructors.

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ecn-writing-assessment-results-ay2021.pptx 969.86 KB
Average: 5 (6 votes)


Catherine Cochran Thu, 03/24/2022 - 9:02am

Hi Eric!

This was an interesting CATS.  I love that you are incorporating our library resources into your student's assignments.  I feel this is a two-fold dynamic:  teaching students how to learn and introducing student success resources.

It was interesting that the use of citiations was not useful.  I appreciate that you are taking the extra step to help your students with other resources to help them in this area.

Thank you for submitting a CATS!

Great work!


Erik Huntsinger Thu, 03/24/2022 - 9:11am

Thanks Catherine, my team and I were somewhat disappointed we didn't have stronger improvement results to show for our efforts, but that's sometimes the way it turns out.  We did discuss that we might have assessed the students' worker harder the second time as we really had high expectations and we were more clear in what we were looking for.  I also think it's good that we model that you don't have to have a picture-perfect assessment to post a CATS; the fear of failure sometimes prevents us from trying. Either way, we are still happy with our discussion that and improvements based on our initial data and plan to keep them going.