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Welcome to the Writing Placement Assessment (WPA) Workshop Presented by the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Welcome to the Writing Placement Assessment (WPA) Workshop Presented by the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Welcome to the Writing Placement Assessment (WPA) Workshop Presented by the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies

2 Write an essay responding to a series of statements that relate directly to a reading selection in an engaging and informed way. Write an analysis of the argument presented in the reading rather than a personal response to the topic of the article. SDSUs GWAR (Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement) is an argument-based Writing Placement Assessment (WPA) Overall, the WPA asks students to:

3 All CSU campuses have some kind of upper-division writing requirement. At least five campuses require passing an exam. At least four require coursework only. About four, including SDSU, require an exam, then coursework only if necessary. Single-essay exams range from 180 to 60 minutes. Why do I have to take the WPA? SDSU provides students the opportunity to test out of any upper division writing courses, and our assessment is two hours long, rather than just one hour.

4 2 independent readers Score from 2-5 each Split Scores (3-4, 4-5) evaluated by a third reader Evaluated by WPA Coordinator/Chief Readers How the WPA is scored: Total score of 10: Requirement fulfilled (about 15% of students taking the test, based on 2007 figures) Total score of 8: Demonstrates competency for an upper division writing course (around 55%) Total score of 6 or below: Need to take RWS 280 or 281 AND an upper division writing course (about 30%)

5 WARNING: There is no automatic formula for earning a 10 on the WPA. The topic essays are written by humans, then responded to by humans, and those responses are then read by humans. Ultimately, you are making an argument about the effectiveness of another authors argument. Results will vary. Therefore, it is important to create a clear, concise, and effective analysis of the authors argument.

6 Many departments have a writing-intensive course that takes the place of RWS 305W. Some majors require that their students take this writing-intensive course regardless of their score on the WPA. If you are in such a major, that means a score of 8 on the WPA has the same impact on your course load as a 10. While everyone should strive for perfection, it can still be comforting to know some of the pressure is off. Something to consider:

7 Explore the internet for information on rhetorical strategies and rhetorical vocabulary. Some suggestions: Test prep site, including samples: WPA registration information: Google Rhetorical Strategies Write a practice essay while you time yourself! Many students say the time limit is the most challenging aspect of the assessment. What to do before the exam:

8 Bring two #2 pencils, two pens, your student id, and entry ticket (print this out by visiting and clicking Admission Tickets). You may also bring a highlighter. Exam book and reading are provided 120 minutes to read and write Manage your time: approximately minutes to read the prompt, the article and pre-write, minutes to write, and minutes to edit and proofread. The day of the assessment:

9 Read the prompt. Identify writing tasks (what is the prompt actually asking you to do?) Carefully read the selection. * Underline and annotate as you read. Draft a sentence or two that tells the reader what you are going to do in this essay, such as a thesis, a controlling idea, or a project statement. Plan the structure of your essay. * It need not follow the order of the tasks in the prompt. Be sure to address every component of the prompt. While taking the WPA:

10 Try to write legibly. The exam will not be scored on penmanship, and professors involved in scoring do their best to interpret what you are saying. Still, its helpful if your writing is clear. Dont write on the backs of pages. That way you have an entire blank page next to your writing if you need to make corrections, or insert something. If you realize halfway through that youve accidentally forgotten to skip backs of pages, just start from that point. Time is limited. Dont re-write something you dont have to. Some technical notes:

11 General Academic Writing Tips: Avoid referring to the author by his/her first name. Be careful of using you and like. Avoid using talks about and says. If you know something, be sure to explain how and why you know it. Create topic sentences for your paragraphs that are attention-grabbing and informative. Avoid: The authors first strategy is... Dont assume the readers will automatically know what you are trying to say.

12 Other tips: o Read the directions. This is important. o Rhetoric tutors are available in the Writing Center, which is located in the Library Dome to the right of the Circulation desk. Consider writing a practice essay & reviewing it with one of these free tutors.

13 These times are approximate: minutes to read the prompt and the article Read the prompt first and underline and annotate Prewriting suggestions: List, map, outline, thesis, etc minutes to write Dont worry about spelling and conventions of correctness as you write minutes to edit and proofread Make minor edits and correct any errors you find Check the time periodically; dont count on the proctor to keep you informed Be aware of the time

14 Analysis: Is your analysis of the authors argument reasonable, credible, thorough, and well-thought out? Focus: Does the essay accurately and thoroughly address all aspects of the prompt? Organization: Do the ideas flow from one paragraph and from one sentence to another? *Make sure your essay doesnt read like a list.* Development: Are details and specific examples used to further prove or illustrate the thesis? GrammarPunctuationSpelling: This is something you can do little about in the days before the test. The focus, organization, and development strategies are in your control. What the readers are looking for:

15 The prompt is available on the website. You should read it several times before the exam so you fully understand what is being asked. The prompt will also be presented to you on the day of the test. Re-read it to make sure you are familiar with all parts. Consider making notes if necessary. KNOW THE PROMPT

16 Write an essay in which you respond to all of the following: Identify and provide a brief explanation of the authors argument; identify two persuasive strategies that the author uses to support his or her argument and analyze how those strategies support the claim; describe the overall organization of the reading selection and explain whether it makes the argument persuasive; discuss the assumption(s) on which the argument is based; evaluate the extent to which you find the argument convincing. Analyze the article, rather than simply agreeing or disagreeing or generating an extensive summary of the article. The WPA prompt:

17 explain the point of the authors argument explain how the author is using rhetorical strategies to persuade an audience identify and explain the type of structure used identify and explain the core assumptions of the article most importantly: you must analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of each of these components. (Did this strategy/structure/assumptions work to convince the audience? Why/why not?) To be more specific, you are being asked to:

18 If the prompt is always the same, regardless of the readings, you can learn one important thing even without reading the prompt: The prompt is not about the content of the reading. Pay careful attention to the segments of the prompt that tell you not to summarize, and not to respond directly to the argument. You are writing about the argument, not about the content of it. Take careful note!

19 Look at the verbs in the Prompt: Identify: Clearly label and provide examples of the strategies, structure, and assumptions used by the author. Describe, Explain, Discuss: Thoroughly explain how the author is using this information to support his/her argument. Consider the authors motivation for utilizing this particular piece of evidence; how did he/she think it would help to further convince the readers? Evaluate: Consider the effectiveness of the devices used by the author: do these devices strengthen or weaken the argument? Why? Why not? Did this particular device help to convince the audience? Why? Why not? Breaking down the components of the prompt:

20 The introductory paragraph should (at the very least): Identify: the title of the article the name of the author the authors main claim the rhetorical context the publication the intended audience Briefly cover: how the author presents the argument how the author supports the argument (a brief explanation of the strategies used) Signpost Tell the readers where youre going with your essay.

21 21 Sample Introduction Many college students seek valuable opportunities to develop marketable skills within their fields. The internship is one such avenue that students can pursue. Anya Kamenetzs article, Take This Internship and Shove It, examines the assumed relationship between unpaid internships and the development of real-world job skills. Published in the New York Times, it seeks to reach a broad audience of largely educated people, many of whom may have worked unpaid internships themselves. Through the use of several clever rhetorical moves, Kamenetz manages to create an effective argument on the topic. I will examine those rhetorical moves below. Signposting Names author & title; rhetorical context Creating context for discussion Thesis (optional)

22 Write an essay in which you respond to all of the following: Identify and provide a brief explanation of the authors argument; identify two persuasive strategies that the author uses to support his or her argument and analyze how those strategies support the claim; describe the overall organization of the reading selection and explain whether it makes the argument persuasive; discuss the assumption(s) on which the argument is based; evaluate the extent to which you find the argument convincing. Analyze the article, rather than simply agreeing or disagreeing or generating an extensive summary of the article. The WPA prompt:

23 Each strategy paragraph should (at the very least): Identify: One of two strategies used to support the argument Cite: textual evidence of the strategy Briefly discuss: how/why the author uses the strategy how the strategy supports the argument Analyze: the effectiveness of the strategy-- Does it help to convince the readers? why/why not?

24 Strategies are moves or devices which help build and support arguments. Find two the author uses in making his or her argument: Are statistics/examples provided? Are scenarios/situations presented? Are opposing arguments refuted? Are appeals made: - To emotions (pathos)? - To logic (logos)? Are narrations, descriptions, or settings provided? Does the author use stylistic devices: repetition, alliteration, or metaphor? ?? Describe two strategies ??

25 Does the writer of the selection: –Use descriptions? –Provide definitions? –Share personal experiences/anecdotes to appeal to emotions? –Use a concept or idea to interpret another idea? Use analogies? –This is only a partial list. Do some research on the Internet to learn more terms! Strategies continued **In addition to identifying and describing these strategies, you must also evaluate their effectiveness (Do they work? Why/why not?)**

26 26 Sample Strategy Paragraph In her essay, Kamenetz effectively employs various rhetorical strategies to further her argument. One strategy that she uses to support her argument is exemplification, specifically the use of numbers and statistical representations. She states, for example, that …50,000 unpaid interns are employed full time for 12 weeks each summer at an average minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. The number of unpaid internships at such a meager wage clearly illustrates the reality of the situation and the exploitation of students. In addition, Kamanetz provides data from national surveys that clearly support her argument. The use of exemplification, as a result, helps the audience visualize the magnitude of unpaid interns and its impact on the economy. This data makes it easy to conceptualize the problem that exists for college students seeking to gain relevant work experience and contributes effectively to the overall argument. Clear topic sentence identifies strategy Textual support followed by analysis Effectiveness

27 Write an essay in which you respond to all of the following: Identify and provide a brief explanation of the authors argument; identify two persuasive strategies that the author uses to support his or her argument and analyze how those strategies support the claim; describe the overall organization of the reading selection and explain whether it makes the argument persuasive; discuss the assumption(s) on which the argument is based; evaluate the extent to which you find the argument convincing. Analyze the article, rather than simply agreeing or disagreeing or generating an extensive summary of the article. The WPA prompt:

28 The structure paragraph should (at the very least): Identify: the structure used by the author Cite: textual evidence of the structure Briefly discuss: how/why the author uses this structure how the structure moves the readers from Point A to Point B of the argument Analyze: the effectiveness of the structure-- was it accessible for readers? was it appropriate for the topic? why/why not?

29 How are strategies organized in the text? How are claims in the text organized? How are examples or evidence arranged in the reading? How do the parts of the reading function? How is information chunked together? ?? Describe the overall structure ?? **In addition to identifying and describing the structure, you must also evaluate its effectiveness (Does it work? Why/why not?)**

30 How does the structure affect the persuasiveness of the reading as a whole? Consider these structural relationships: Problem/solution Cause/effect Compare/contrast Action/consequence ?? Structure Continued ?? **In addition to identifying and describing the structure, you must also evaluate its effectiveness (Does it work? Why/why not?)**

31 31 Sample Structure Paragraph The structure of Kamenetzs article furthers the aims of her argument. She first begins with a short anecdote and introduction of the topic, internships. In order to provide more background on paid and unpaid internships, Kamenetz refers to a professional survey that was conducted. The context for the discussion is established within the first few paragraphs, and the audience does not learn about the argument until paragraph four, when it is implicitly stated through a rhetorical question. The sequence of paragraphs effectively addresses the reasoning of the authors argument and each supporting point is laid out with clearly stated examples and various rhetorical strategies. As a whole, the organization enables Kamanetz to develop her ideas and examples, and most importantly, leaves the reader with a better understanding of the negative impact of unpaid internships. Clear topic sentence Points to specific parts of essay Analysis

32 Write an essay in which you respond to all of the following: Identify and provide a brief explanation of the authors argument; identify two persuasive strategies that the author uses to support his or her argument and analyze how those strategies support the claim; describe the overall organization of the reading selection and explain whether it makes the argument persuasive; discuss the assumption(s) on which the argument is based; evaluate the extent to which you find the argument convincing. Analyze the article, rather than simply agreeing or disagreeing or generating an extensive summary of the article. The WPA prompt:

33 Assumptions constitute the principles, beliefs and core values the author assumes the audience holds true. Look for obvious things that need no explanation, yet are vital to the writers argument. Discuss the Assumptions **In addition to identifying and describing the assumptions, you must also evaluate its effectiveness (Does it work? Why/why not?)**

34 The assumption paragraph should (at the very least): Identify: the assumptions on which the argument is based where in the text assumptions are evident or implied Briefly discuss: how/why the author bases the argument on these assumptions how the assumptions strengthen/do not strengthen the argument Analyze: the effectiveness of the assumptions would most audiences find the assumptions valid/reasonable? Were they appropriate for the intended audience? why/why not?

35 35 Sample Assumption Paragraph The assumption within Kamanetzs article is that work by an individual should be compensated and that an unpaid internship contradicts this belief. It can be argued that this concept is supported by the general population, as well as the majority of college students, and the article argues in more specific terms that unpaid internships do more harm than good to an individual and to the economy. This assumption validates both the authors argument as well as the points developed throughout the article. For this reason, the assumption presented in this article creates a shared understanding between the author and audience and provides an overwhelmingly convincing argument. Clear topic sentence Specific examples Analysis

36 Write an essay in which you respond to all of the following: Identify and provide a brief explanation of the authors argument; identify two persuasive strategies that the author uses to support his or her argument and analyze how those strategies support the claim; describe the overall organization of the reading selection and explain whether it makes the argument persuasive; discuss the assumption(s) on which the argument is based; evaluate the extent to which you find the argument convincing. Analyze the article, rather than simply agreeing or disagreeing or generating an extensive summary of the article. The WPA prompt:

37 Summarize your main points. Offer judgment of the authors argument: Do you feel it would be persuasive to a broad audience? Be sure to make your argument regarding the effectiveness of the authors argument, NOT your stance on the topic. Be sure to come down one way or the other on the effectiveness issueit is okay to say Despite its flaws, I found this argument to be effective. Evaluate the extent to which you find the argument convincing

38 38 Sample Response: Paragraph #6 Take This Internship and Shove It, by Anya Kamenetz, proved to be a convincing article. The belief that college students should be paid for their work, which is an assumption in the article as well as common ground between the author and audience, strengthens her argument. Furthermore, through the use of specific examples, the use of Logos and appeal to authority as rhetorical devices, and a carefully structured line of argument, Kamanetz establishes a persuasive argument for the reader. By the end of the article, readers have a clearer understanding of how the unpaid internship can plague both the student as well as the economy and that one should Take This Internship and Shove It. Summarizes main points & offers judgment

39 Spend minutes proofreading. Do not proofread while writing. Do not sabotage yourself by trying to squeeze in too many re-writes. If you need to shift chunks of your writing, simply give clear directions for the readers. Look for errors you typically make. Be careful of very basic errors, such as confusion of their/theyre/there or its/its. Time is almost out

40 If you plan on retaking the WPA, you can (and should) meet with the WPA adviser to review your essay. This is highly advised! Consider RWS 305W alternative classes. Some majors require upper division writing courses. Look at the Test Office website: After the Test


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