Understanding Rhetoric Summative Assessment
Lesson 13 of 13
Objective: SWBAT demonstrate their knowledge of rhetorical strategies and situations through this written assessment of the unit.
I’ve chosen to give an open-response exam to specifically assess their understanding of individual rhetorical analysis concepts covered throughout the unit. This is a close reading and conceptual framework assessment, so I broke down the elements into separate questions to provide a stronger assessment of this knowledge and set of skills rather than do it in an essay format. The particular focus of the questions is based on earlier formative assessments and subsequent instruction; some of the skills and concepts below represent those that required extended focus in class and not those they showed mastery of earlier. I chose the particular reading, "Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture" by Ariel Levy from the textbook Acting Out Culture, edited by James S. Miller; it has a very clear point of view and tone, and is not very subtle. It is a modern text, too, so comprehension due to the text complexity of an older text shouldn’t be a problem. Because of all these factors, I should be able to get a clear assessment of their understanding on the concepts.
Below are all the questions, followed by a brief explanation of each question.
The Basics of Rhetoric Assessment
Read the essay “Women and the rise of Raunch Culture” and answer the following questions. Be specific in your answers (remember, specific doesn’t mean verbose!).
1. What persona does Ariel Levy present? Explain your reasoning. I’m looking to see how well students recognize the specific persona the writer takes on and how the writer establishes this, and also if they connect this to credibility, since persona has so much to do with that. Persona was a point of emphasis when doing the SOAPStone analysis, something we’ve come back to repeatedly. This speaks to reading standard 6 regarding effectiveness of rhetoric. All of the questions ultimately are assessing standards 1-4, since all require an understanding of the central ideas and recognition of words as phrases as evidence.
2. Who do you think the PRIMARY audience is for this piece? What brings you to this conclusion? Students had some challenges with recognizing the importance of audience as part of analyzing the rhetorical situation during the analysis of visual appeals, so it became another point of emphasis in class. I’ve put “primary” in caps because they’ve had a tendency to bring in other secondary audiences in their analyses, making the analysis more difficult. Hopefully they’ll get the hint! I’ll be looking specifically for discussion of one audience, and evidence from the text as support.
3. Discuss the nature of Ariel Levy’s evidence, and how she uses it to make a compelling argument. The last part of the unit focused on evidence, so this should be freshest in their minds. This piece uses lots of anecdote and personal narrative, which is different than the pieces we worked with. This makes it a truer assessment of the concepts, since they have to apply them differently. In particular, whether they take into account the context in determining the validity and effectiveness of the evidenc.
4. State 2 adjectives that you think aptly describe Levy’s tone. Explain how she creates this tone through examples of:
- Syntax/sentence structure
Tone has been a bit of a slippery topic for the students, one they tend to generalize. I gave them a list of “tone words” that we got at the AP institute that provide stronger adjectives than they often use. They are allowed to use this list, so hopefully that will steer them to a more specific discussion. The specificity of asking for diction and syntax separately will hearken back to the first unit of the semester based around their reading of Sin and Syntax, so the question also assesses their ability to apply that knowledge as well. It assesses a recognition of words as phrases as different elements in analysis (standard 4). They will have to address both clearly for full credit.
5. Levy uses lots of allusions in her piece for rhetorical effect. Identify 2 examples of allusion, and explain the rhetorical effect for each. We did a couple mini-lessons on allusions, and talked about them the last couple days in the context of them appearing as evidence, so this question assesses their ability to recognize references as being meaningful for creating different appeals. For full credit, they should discuss specifically how the allusions they choose function as appeals for the audience.
6. In the textbook Acting Out Culture, one of the discussion questions states: “Levy’s essay tries to pinpoint what she sees as a contradiction between the tactics of sexual or “porny” self-exhibition and the kind of liberation these acts of display supposedly enable. For Levy, there is something wrong with believing that miniskirts can be empowering or that stripping can be viewed as a feminist act.” Explain how they might have arrived at this statement of purpose. This question has a similarity to the rhetorical analysis prompt on the AP exam in that it states a purpose and asks for students to explain the rhetorical strategies used. Up to this point I’ve asked students to come up with purpose, something that they have found very challenging, and also something I’ve recognized we need more work on. So rather than assess them on identifying this, I wanted to focus on assessing their understanding of rhetorical strategies, something they have shown more strength on. For full credit, “contradiction” and “something wrong. . . empowering” pieces are particularly important for students to address with evidence. This isn’t a full essay questions, so their ability to recognize passages that lead to this issue and the general appeals made will suffice. On most exams I have a challenging question or two designed to draw a line between proficient and exemplary/advanced on the standards and skills; this one serves that purpose here.
Read the first 3 paragraphs from Serving in Florida by Barbara Ehrenreich, pgs. 394-395 in your textbook, and answer the multiple choice questions (please answer the multiple choice questions on white-lined paper).
This part of the test will not count nearly as much as the other section, and is more to give the students a sense of the multiple choice section of the AP exam. The questions attend to much smaller details, an analysis skill we will continue to hone in class. My hope is that these questions will help give expediency to looking at fine details when we get there, and also allow me to see where students are in these skills now so I can focus my instruction going forward.
The piece I’ve chosen to use is an excerpt from Nickel and Dimed that is featured in The Language of Composition textbook. The questions came with the textbook and focus on the first three paragraphs. I chose this piece in part to give a preview of the book when we read it later in the year, and also because it is not a particularly complex text. Because the reading level is something all my students can handle, I can better assess their skill set (if it was a particularly complex text, the reading comprehension challenge may keep them from answering the questions, therefore not giving them the chance to demonstrate their close-reading skills.