Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future
Asao Inoue, University of Washington Tacoma
Pub Date: 2015
ISBN 13: 978-1-6023577-4-7
Publisher: Parlor Press
Conditions of Use
This text provides incisive yet accessible exploration of the institutional hegemonic racisms upon which many of our assumptions about "good" writing read more
This text provides incisive yet accessible exploration of the institutional hegemonic racisms upon which many of our assumptions about "good" writing rely. In response, it promotes a culturally and situationally responsive ecology of writing instruction and assessment. It's certainly not a "how-to," but offers important conceptual considerations for the intentional teacher committed to material antiracism.
The content is polished and, based on my theoretical posture, accurate, although topics like this one are highly politicized, and "unbiased" might be a reductive way to describe it.
The book refers to both historical and ongoing institutional racist (and antiracist) practices; although a new edition might be in order in a few years, it seems both relevant and lasting.
The target audience for this book ("graduate students, writing teachers, and writing program administrators" [Inoue 3]) should feel comfortable with the language employed in this book, but I can't envision using it below the 300 level.
Inoue establishes a thoughtful framework in the introductory sections of the book which continues throughout the text.
These concepts are very complex and not especially excerpt-able. The text is very dense, so I would not consider it modular.
The text is clearly organized and easy to follow, in terms of overall trajectory.
Inoue uses frequent and very important endnotes, but there's no way to click between the main text and the endnotes. I keep having to scroll/jump to pages, and losing my place. It seems like it would be easy enough to make these endnotes linked.
I didn't observe significant grammatical errors.
This text is exceptionally relevant, in fact focusing on antiracist cultural responsiveness. It is highly conscious of race (and other axes of oppression) and committed to social justice writing pedagogy.
I am not likely to use this book for the particular classes I teach, but I think it should be required reading for Teacher Education Programs at both undergrad and graduate levels. It would also make an excellent text for professional development projects and ongoing education for current teachers.
Inoue addresses the writing task and assessment as an "ecology" which frames the work as a living, breathing entity capable of evolving. He provides read more
Inoue addresses the writing task and assessment as an "ecology" which frames the work as a living, breathing entity capable of evolving. He provides detailed components in this ecology, beginning with a very lengthy and detailed introduction that lays the groundwork for his thinking and writing, detailing the "function of race in writing assessments", defining "ecology" as "relationships between ...people and their environments," specifics about constructing antiracist writing assessment ecologies, a demonstration of how these work in a specific course inclusive of students' participation and response, and closes with details about designing the assessments. As a writing teacher and an antiracist educator, I find this a very comprehensive text, inclusive of critical and thoughtful application of key scholars' work to support Inoue's thesis.
Inoue uses his sources well, supports his work thoroughly and thoughtfully. The question of bias is curious - I would argue that depends on who reads the text and for what reason. If an instructor is looking to create a "neutral" writing assignment, this is not the text for that. Inoue's thesis is not about anti-bias, rather, it is about antiracist frameworks for creating assignments and assessing them.
Inoue's text is very timely and I can see this remaining useful for years to come. He adds an interesting perspective to scholarship about writing pedagogy and assessment that is rarely addressed at this level in other writing texts. In an era where some find it easy to dismiss respectful writing practices as "politically correct", work like this gets at the structural issues involved in teaching and assessing writing projects.
Inoue's text is clearly written for an audience that would include instructors who have familiarity with theory and scholarly work. What is great is he doesn't overwhelm with jargon on any level - but that is part of his ecology. Where difficult concepts and language are introduced, they are also broken down for the reader so that this work is accessible without being simplistic.
One of the benefits of reviewing a writing scholar's work is that they are conscious of the structure they are creating, and Inoue is no exception. Each chapter is well developed, and at only 5 chapters, this text isn't too long for the average busy instructor to consult.
This text is not one that would be used by first or second year students, and would most likely only be used by students who intend to teach writing on some level, but in spite of that, this book is well organized and easy to follow. All five chapters are broken down well - some additional subheadings might be useful to break up the type, but that is purely an aesthetic consideration.
Inoue breaks down the concepts he relies on for his ecology theory, and then provides clear and consistent details about how and where this theory operates to create an antiracist writing assessment ecology. He starts with the bigger picture, breaks down the ideas, and then demonstrates how they work in the fourth chapter in an actual class, followed by a final chapter that provides considerations for design.
Inoue produced this book as a free text, and it is possible that choices were made to keep the interface simple to prevent any kind of copyright/use issues. There are very few graphics, and the text is available as a pdf or ePub document. I read the document as a pdf file, and had no problem navigating and making notes in the pdf file.
I saw no grammatical errors. Inoue's writing is clear and concise.
Since the focus of this text is antiracist writing ecologies, there are relevant examples of dominant or culturally oppressive practices that some might, depending on their personal standpoint, find problematic - but that is the point. What this text can be described as is culturally responsive - it does not center any one group as the "correct" group, nor does it simply dismiss the dominant or racially constructed methods as "bad" - rather, Inoue does a nice job pointing out how these constructions are problematic and how to create "ecologies" that are less inclusive and more equitable. Inclusivity doesn't necessarily dispense with the dominant issue.
It would be great if this were to be used as a handbook (or some form of it) to train writing center tutors, directors, writing faculty, and then once this is firmly set in that aspect, across the curriculum.
The book has a clear comprehensiveness. It shows an effective coverage of the subjects appropriate to the subject within it's index, notes, and read more
The book has a clear comprehensiveness. It shows an effective coverage of the subjects appropriate to the subject within it's index, notes, and reference pages. I followed the structure of the book easily.
I believe it is ludicrous that any text is unbiased. All authors bring their biases and if we cannot recognize this, then why do theories exist? The author of this text shows the bias with writing assessments and how such bias marginalizes students of color, simply because our society is wrought with racism that has never been confronted. Inoue touches on the epistemological racism that works in our society because we live in a society that has been founded on racism. Until we examine what racism is and how it resides in our academic practices, we will only continue the status quo hegemonic writing practices that herald white as normal, neutral and natural. Yet, it is a book like this requesting that we stop and examine our assessment practices and examine how racism is at the heart of such practices.
The content is up-to-date. The topic is one that has longevity and relevancy. I don't see how there will be necessary updates in the future because it has a candid simplicity that is straightforward to follow for years to come.
The book is written clearly. The author, Inoue, knows deeply how race and racism is part of the landscape of the inner workings of our educational operations, such as within our assessments. He breaks his theory and praxis down coherently. I also applaud him for tackling an issue that is overwhelming present within academia, yet acutely hidden within the white illusion of hegemonic power dynamics.
The terminology related to the topic of race and racism related to assessments is well defined. I am an educational researcher and I focus on Chicana Feminist Epistemology and Critical Race Theoretical frames representing socially just educational research. Inoue, author of this book, presents the terminology and framing related to the elements of race and racism as something we must examine forthrightly within our writing assessments. Such assessments are often written and developed by professors and teachers who are bound to the epistemology of our culture and he deconstructs this so that we may understand the concepts of ecologies of assessments.
The book has clear modularity. I found the text and chapters easy to read with clear use of subheadings when needed. The book has clarity within its layout.
The organization/structure/flow is logically put together. There are five chapters and they are all well developed with a clear thesis and solid arguments to back the claims of the arguments about race and racism at the core of our writing assessments.
The text is free of interface issues. There were no distorted images/charts and I found nothing confusing to read.
The book is well written. There were just 2 that I ran across. Otherwise, I found the book very well written.
I chose this book because I research "race and racism" as it pertains to educational equity. This was the only book that i found covering this topic. Cultural relevancy is at the core of this text. The discussion of race and racism is no delicate topic and the author does a solid job covering the topic as it relates to writing assessments. He makes a strong case to show how race and racism are part of the fabric of our society and if we don't address it, it doesn't mean racism will vanish. Instead, examining the elements in our thinking as it relates to how we assess is based on our thinking, which is then validated by the values (axiology) and the nature of what we call real (ontology). He shows how writing assessments are bound to the culture we reside and abide.
I highly recommend this text!
Table of Contents
- Front Matter
- Introduction: Writing Assessment Ecologies as Antiracist Projects
- Chapter 1: The Function of Race in Writing Assessments
- Chapter 2: Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies
- Chapter 3: The Elements of an Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecology
- Chapter 4: Approaching Antiracist Work in an Assessment Ecology
- Chapter 5: Designing Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies
- Appendix A: English 160W's Grading Contract
- Appendix B: Example Problem Posing Labor Process
About the Book
In Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies, Asao B. Inoue theorizes classroom writing assessment as a complex system that is "more than" its interconnected elements. To explain how and why antiracist work in the writing classroom is vital to literacy learning, Inoue incorporates ideas about the white racial habitus that informs dominant discourses in the academy and other contexts. Inoue helps teachers understand the unintended racism that often occurs when teachers do not have explicit antiracist agendas in their assessments. Drawing on his own teaching and classroom inquiry, Inoue offers a heuristic for developing and critiquing writing assessment ecologies that explores seven elements of any writing assessment ecology: power, parts, purposes, people, processes, products, and places.
About the Contributors
Asao B. Inoue is Director of University Writing and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Tacoma. He has published on writing assessment, validity, and composition pedagogy in Assessing Writing, The Journal of Writing Assessment, Composition Forum, and Research in the Teaching of English, among other journals and collections. His co-edited collection Race and Writing Assessment (2012) won the CCCC's Outstanding Book Award for an edited collection.