Helping preservice teachers learn to assess writing: Practice and feedback in a Web-based environment

Michael S. Dempsey, Lisa M. PytlikZillig, Roger H. Bruning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Writing is a highly valued skill that is often neglected in the classroom; one reason is that teachers often do not receive adequate training in writing assessment and instruction. Teachers, particularly preservice teachers, need practice making detailed assessments of student writing and to build their confidence for assessing student writing, but practical issues of time and resources often constrain the frequency and quality of training they receive. This mixed method study focused on the design and evaluation of an online tool for building preservice teachers' writing assessment skills and self-efficacy for writing assessment. In the study, teacher education students interacted with actual 4th-graders' writing samples via a Web-based critical thinking tool. They received scaffolded practice in assessing multiple student papers and justified their assessments using analytic criteria. After each paper, they received feedback that included access to expert assessments and those of their peers, along with both teacher and peer rationales for their ratings. Participants significantly improved in ability to accurately assess student writing using an analytic approach and in knowledge of the writing traits. They also showed significantly greater self-efficacy for assessing student writing and high levels of satisfaction with the Web-based tool and their overall learning experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-61
Number of pages24
JournalAssessing Writing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Assessment
  • Feedback
  • Primary school
  • Rubric
  • Teacher candidates
  • Writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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