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Interactive multimedia, which turns students into "directors" rather than simply writers, broadens the range of intelligences that the school culture values and may thereby give students a greater sense of self-worth and potential for success in the age of electronic culture that most students experience in their progress through a system that-nearly a century after Alfred Binet devised a test to predict who would fail in school-still measures literacy and general intelligence through discrete-point, pencil-and-paper assessment. L. M. Dryden

As many of my examples pointed out, students with other skills (graphic design, programming, etc) could use them in the computer-assisted environment. What often resulted was the best of both worlds; compositional clarity and creative ingenuity (not to mention positive reinforcement). Please consider assessment in this emerging context. We shouldn't drop our standards or expectations for our students, but we should also be able to recognize that students have differing levels of computer experience. That's why I use portfolio assessment. It enables students to create a narrative of their learning, and allows me insight into the process of that development.

Evaluation of web projects can be difficult. Setting up clear guidelines for students will help, but it won't be enough. Giving students a requirement for links or images defeats the purpose (encouraging mediocrity produces it). I make it clear to my students that I have a number of expectations regarding their web designs, but good design is not a replacement for content. Content is what counts. I confess that I may have taken it easier on students in the early days of HTML. I look back now and blame myself for their lack of design, but at the same time I must remember these were the days before color backgrounds and handy HTML editors that do it all for you. My students use BBEdit Lite (in most cases), and they learn HTML as a result. As more transparent software develops, I'm sure my teaching will shift, but the expectations for good work will not change.

My students contribute to the evaluative process in that they evaluate each other's work. I have a handout with space for comments that students produce for each project, including their own. But the best way I have found to evaluate web work is to have students evaluate themselves. It's called portfolio assessment, and it's changed the way I think about evaluation and grading.

Portfolios enable students to address their learning in terms of process rather than products. Students consider all elements of their learning in the context of the course goals and their own work. Here is a description of portfolio assessment, which is based on Dr. Margaret Syverson's guidelines. I have found portfolio assessment to be a rewarding experience as a teacher, because I have access to all the learning involved. I encourage you to consider portfolio assessment as an option for evaluation in the composition classroom. I would like to go into more detail, but that's another topic for another article.





Student Examples