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: WAC Clearinghouse
Conditions of Use
The text covers a very important aspect--designing assignments that bring equity in the classroom. Different students, such as first generation read more
The text covers a very important aspect--designing assignments that bring equity in the classroom. Different students, such as first generation students, students of color, international students--all come with different experiences. A writing instructor must pay attention to these experiences. The writer talks not only about different pedagogy but also relates to history and explains why such pedagogy is needed. He gives examples of what as writing instructors we shouldn’t do. He also uses Freirean critical pedagogy, Buddhist theories of interconnection, and Marxian political theory to talk about classroom writing assignment “ecology.” This book contributes to the knowledge of those educators who see their classroom and their pedagogy inclusive of social justice issues.
The content is accurate. As a postcolonial feminist scholar whose research encompasses race and intersectionality, I don’t see why a text has to be considered biased. There is a lot of tension in the classroom these days and if a writing instructor is well versed in Freirean theory, then the whole class benefits. It is important to understand the power structure that often defines success in higher education; it is also important for the instructor to be aware of what power structure he/she/they/Z bring into the classroom. As educators we have to negotiate that structure only when it becomes barrier to an inclusive education. This book makes us aware of those vulnerable situations.
The book is relevant and lasting. Chapter 4 is a great example of how relevant this text is in terms of teaching a diverse set of students. The book is written is such a way that if the writer wishes, he can always rewrite the pedagogy chapter with updated teaching experiences.
This book is definitely for senior graduate students and faculty. Yet, an administrative personnel (such as the Chief Diversity Officer, Dean of Students) may find it helpful. It would be very helpful for graduate students who are in their final year of teaching and who are in the job market. For someone like me, the text is more lucid than many I have read. A text like this cannot provide context for every little term that the writer uses. So, this is a text for more mature readers, yet anyone can benefit from it--they will gain new knowledge about how race plays out in the classroom.
Inoue consistently uses terms that are important for the readers to understand his theory and the pedagogy he introduces. He repeats in places so that his readers are able to follow him throughout the chapters.
The book is well organized and easy to follow. The book could be broken into smaller parts and used to teach student and new faculty how to create effective and inclusive assignments and assessment.
Inoue first creates a big picture of how often in institutions we fail to recognize that race matters when it comes to assessments of student writing. Then he discusses the relevant theories, how they relate to his concept of an anti-racist writing pedagogy, and then he ends with the description of his own class. He concludes the book with a beautiful anecdote that speaks to writing teachers--after all, our responsibility is to create humane writers who are critical thinkers and not mechanical ones.
I didn’t face any navigating problems, the charts and the diagrams were clearly displayed. I used the pdf file. There was no distraction.
I didn’t see any grammatical errors.
Inoue writes that his purpose is to “construct ecologies that work as sustainable, livable, fair ecologies that address racism by not avoiding it in the language we write or speak.” While talking about power structures he not only discusses and defines the white dominant discourse prevalent in many classrooms and classroom instruction, but also focuses on different cultural groups and how each grouplearn. He uses various critics in the field (i.e. Asian scholars while talking about Asian students) to explain the situation that the student may be going through.
I have already recommended this book to my reading/writing center for the senior fellows. This book should be used as a handbook in a school which has graduate students as tutors in the writing center. This book will definitely be my companion when I teach my First Year Inquiry classes.
Inoue delivers a clear and well-pointed critique of the racist implications of established college-level writing assessments setting up the need for read more
Inoue delivers a clear and well-pointed critique of the racist implications of established college-level writing assessments setting up the need for antiracist assessment practices. He gives an in-depth rationale for his own anti-racist assessment practices that assess students based on their labor rather than how well their products approximate academic standards based on white middle and upper class norms. He goes on to describe how such practices have played out in his own courses. Inoue ends with a series of questions that any writing instructor or writing program administrator concerned with disrupting racist writing assessment practices would do well to consider.
The book is well researched. The works Inoue critiques are represented fairly.
This book is extremely relevant to its target audience, those who teach writing and administer writing programs at the college level. The pervasive nature of inequality in writing assessments and the inherent nature of racism in the US mean that, unfortunately, this book should remain relevant for a long time.
Inoue tackles complex material in a clear and systematic way. The content is ordered and divided in a way that aids in understanding.
Inoue is careful with his terms and explanations and is consistent throughout the text. Inoue lays out a clear theoretical framework and proceeds methodically in his descriptions.
Several chapters in this book would stand alone fairly well. The introduction and first chapter lay bare the racist nature of the dominant writing assessment practices, no matter how well intentioned they may be. The fifth chapter offers a useful set of considerations for one to construct their own antiracist writing assessment ecology.
The book is logically organized and flows well.
The books interface is appropriate to the content and purpose.
The text is relatively free of any grammatical issues.
This text is extremely culturally relevant. Inoue details the harmful effects most writing assessment practices have on students of color and offers a way out.
Inoue goes to great lengths to describe the ecology of a writing course and is quite thorough. However, given the focus on labor and Inoue’s discussion of Marx, I was surprised that the tenuous working conditions of many college writing instructors was not addressed. I realize that the book must have boundaries and cannot cover everything, but I would have enjoyed hearing more about how the instructor’s labor fits into Inoue’s writing assessment ecology.
In this text, Inoue offers an incredibly comprehensive view of a subject about an area that deserves more intentional attention: antiracist writing read more
In this text, Inoue offers an incredibly comprehensive view of a subject about an area that deserves more intentional attention: antiracist writing assessment ecologies. After clearly laying out some complex issues raised within critical theories (such as Freire’s emancipatory frameworks, Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, and Marxian political theory) in a comprehensible orientation for newcomers to these theories, Inoue then provides specific suggestions and considerations for classroom practice that moves toward antiracist writing assessment ecologies. The text includes two appendices, one which shows the author’s grading contract (one strategy, building on the work of Danielewicz and Elbow, 2009) for antiracist writing assessment the author mentions in the text) from his own college composition course at Fresno State; the second includes a sample reflection letter for problem-posing labor processes.
This text thoroughly addresses the basic premises underlying antiracist writing assessment ecologies. Inoue clearly defines differences between race and racism, as well as differing forms of racism and power/equity (such as assumptions of Standardized Edited American English [SEAE] and a white racial habitus) that need to be addressed before pursuing the work of creating antiracist assessments. Furthermore, Inoue clearly analyzes writing assessment data from his institution on the EPT to support his argument that this work is necessary.
On a scale from 1-5, this text deserves a 10 in this category. With this work, Inoue fills a significant void in the field of educational assessment that needs to drive discourse and teaching practice for years to come. Traditional writing assessment relies upon sameness and standardization, which, Inoue explains, are foundationally racist principles due to the artificial assumption of shared mainstream norms; this text offers ways to reconsider such practices to focus more on students’ labor as writers instead. While Inoue frames this text from his experience as a college writing professor, as a current teacher educator and former public school educator myself, I see direct applications of the issues raised in this text across all educational contexts.
Despite the complexity of the topic, Inoue engages the reader with his conversational tone. Specific case studies, research, and anecdotal evidence clearly illustrate and support the arguments and claims made. Even though the concept of “ecologies” in the context of antiracist writing assessment may be new for most readers, Inoue spends ample time explaining this concept in an approachable way. In addition, the conclusions at the end of each chapter concisely review the overarching themes and arguments. Two figures are also included that provide additional clarity of the seven interconnected elements of writing assessment ecologies and example of the labor-focused rubrics Inoue negotiates with students.
The text’s terminology and framework is consistent throughout the text. While the theory and framework are initially (and thoroughly) established in Chapter 1 and 2, Inoue revisits key concepts through the lens of classroom practice and personal experience in Chapter 3 through 5.
While Inoue does use subheadings within chapters to organize the work, these sections of text are at times quite lengthy and may rely upon an understanding of or interaction with previous sections in order to be understood. However, I also see the need to read this text holistically because of the depth of content: for example, skipping to the classroom practice suggestions misses the basic orientation to the critical theories upon which these practice suggestions lie, which is in itself a problematic omission for a reader who is wanting to do this work.
As would be expected from a professor of writing in a book about writing assessment, this text is clearly organized with a natural flow that makes it engaging for the reader. Inoue clearly guides the reader through logical arguments and strategic use of evidence to support those arguments.
The text’s interface was clear and simple to navigate; I used the iBooks app on my iPad and was able to use the features of the app with this text, including searching for terms within the book.
While there were a handful of grammatical errors throughout the entire book (one use of it’s instead of its, one use of students instead of students’, one question mark instead of a period, and one period instead of a question mark), these minor errors did not detract from the reader’s ability to understand the text. (Also, there is a great irony in assessing this text’s grammatical integrity amidst its central arguments that delineate antiracist writing assessments. So, if we re-frame this assessment of grammatical strandardization through Inoue’s own suggestion of labor, this becomes a non-issue.)
Yet again, this text should be a 10 on a scale from 1-5 in this category. The central tenants of this text rely upon cultural relevance and interrupting writing assessment practices that are culturally irrelevant. Inoue focuses on the experiences of all students in his courses through data on the standardized EPT writing assessment and their reflections/writing in his course, but a special focus is placed on the Mexican-American and Hmong students at his institution and ensuring that his writing assessment practices are culturally relevant by moving beyond the assumption of a white, mainstream habitus.
As a professor of education whose research interests lie in critical theories and their application to classroom practice, I was thrilled to find such a well-written book available on this topic as an open-source text. It helped me re-envision some of my own teaching practices, and I anticipate others who read this text will share in that transformative experience.
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.