March 26, 2014
An Assessment of the Assessment
Written by the Assistant Dean of Maryland University, Sharon Rubin, this piece was an evaluation of the effectiveness of a syllabus. This was a fairly well-written piece in that it clearly defined the audience, purpose and occasion for writing.
Ms. Rubin's audience in this paper was educators. She wrote the piece after reflection of a series of meetings that evaluated syllabi. She wrote this after "sitting in on the meetings of a committee charged with approving courses for the University of Maryland’s general-education program" (paragraph 1, line 1). She addressed this audience with the purpose of identifying the types of syllabi she has encountered during the meetings of these committees. Ms. Rubin's purpose for writing this paper was to address problems her committee encountered during the process of approving classes based on syllabi written by staff. She targeted several problems with the writing of syllabi. "It’s not that the courses proposed are inadequate; it’s just that they (sic) syllabi submitted with the proposals are so often virtually impossible to decode . . ."(paragraph 1, line 4) Ms. Rubin explained that there were two types of bad syllabi writers: The "Listers" and the "Scolders"(paragraph 2, bullets 1 & 2). Her summary of the problem was "We keep forgetting that what we know – about our disciplines, about our goals, about our teaching methods – is not known (or agreed upon) by everyone" (paragraph 2, lines 3-4). Finally, the occasion for writing this was strictly informative. Ms. Rubin was responding to the committee's efforts to make good decisions based on a mixed batch of submitted syllabi. She continued her paper with frequent unanswered questions that rise upon examining the syllabi. She concluded with "The syllabus is a small place to start