Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Writing Skills Inventory: An Assessment and Pedagogical Tool for Composition Teachers




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Self-assessment is an important practice in first-year composition. Instructors often use cover letters or journal entries to get students to reflect on their own writing processes. Others, like Elbow and Belanoff (2003) and Sargent (2005) have taken a different approach toward self-assessment and developed questionnaires that students answer about their writing skills. These questionnaires served as both an assessment and pedagogical tool for these teachers. We adapted Sargent's Writing Skills Inventory (WSI) to our university's junior-level Writing in the Disciplines course. The WSI is a survey focused on gauging the writing practices and attitudes of student writers. The survey is administered at the beginning and end of each term. Students are asked to agree or disagree with statements such as, "I feel confident in my ability as a writer" and "As I revise a draft, I occasionally write whole new paragraphs or even whole sections of the paper in order to improve it." The inventory is simply a list of specific writing skills we are attempting to teach our students. Kear, Coffman, McKenna and Ambrosio (2000) argue that if we are more knowledgeable about students' attitudes toward writing, then our teaching practices can benefit from this information. Our WSI has been used to (a) provide an initial indicator of a student's attitude toward writing, (b) give a pre- and post measurement score of attitude toward writing, (c) collect an attitudinal profile for a class, or (d) serve as a way to monitor the impact of an instructional program in writing.

Conference Name

Conference on College Composition and Communication

Conference Location

Atlanta, GA

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