Grade Expectations: More than Meets the Eye

Arshad Abd Samad, Zamzam bt Ahmad


Raimes (1983) has identified nine components necessary to produce a piece of writing that is clear, fluent and effective. These are also the aspects that are considered when assessing writing. The common practice is to have raters score the essays and they are provided with a rating scale for this purpose. A training and practice session is also included. A consensus is usually the objective but McNamara (1996) comments that training has a limited effect on raters. This paper is an attempt to find out how teachers perceive “good writing” and how their perception influences the outcome of the rating procedure. To do so, ten English Language teachers from various backgrounds are asked to rate a short essay of about 150 words. They are also asked to complete a questionnaire on their beliefs about writing assessment and this is followed by an interview to elicit a more extended response on the area.

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