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University Writing Project

The University Writing Project (UWP) is an in-house assessment of student writing that utilizes course-embedded assignments to assess writing performance of college juniors and seniors from across the university. Each year, a scoring team from the Department of English evaluates samples of student writing assignments using a rubric developed from the Written Communication and Critical Thinking AAC&U VALUE rubrics. Each sample is rated on seven criteria using a scale ranging from 1 (developing) to 4 (proficient). Results from this assessment are shared with university stakeholders.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the University Writing Project?

The purpose of the University Writing Project is to assess the writing ability of upper-level undergraduate students. This gives the university an opportunity to assess how well NIU students are writing and provides important information that can lead to improvement in the quality of students’ writing abilities.

Is there extra work that I have to do to participate?

No additional assignments or class time are needed for this assessment. The writing samples used for the assessment come from course-embedded assignments. You only need to collect students' names, Z-IDs, and written assignments. These can be submitted electronically or by campus mail to Adams Hall, B20. We would be happy to arrange pick-up of the materials from your office if preferred.

Who can participate?

NIU junior and senior-level students can participate.

What information do you actually need from me?

There are three things that we will need from you for your participation in the UWP:

  • Students’ names and Z-ID’s
  • A copy of the assignment requirements
  • Clean (ungraded) copies of the students’ written assignment

How long should the writing samples be?

A minimum of three pages of text is required. The three-page minimum allows faculty members who are evaluating the writing samples to get an understanding of the student’s writing process. Writing samples that are fewer than three pages lack sufficient content to thoroughly assess a student’s writing ability.

When do you need the writing samples by?

We need the writing samples no later than Monday, May 1, 2017.

How do I get the writing samples (and other items) to you?

The student’s writing sample (along with their names, Z- ID's, and assignment requirements) should be sent to Adams Hall B20. Materials may be submitted electronically or by hard copy. We would be happy to arrange a pick-up of the materials from your office if preferred.

Why do you need a clean copy of the writing samples?

A clean copy of the students’ writing samples is beneficial for reducing bias and ensuring student confidentiality.

Who will be assessing the papers?

Writing samples are assessed by a team of trained faculty members and instructors from the Department of English. Team members assess the writing samples utilizing a standardized rubric that is generalizable to many different writing assignments. View the Written Communication/Critical Thinking Values Rubric (PDF).

What type of information will I receive?

Results are tabulated by college and department in aggregate format by Accreditation, Assessment, and Evaluation (formerly the Office of Assessment Services). Aggregate findings are posted on the main website. Data reports for colleges are distributed to deans and associate deans. Data reports for courses are distributed to chairs and faculty instructors upon request. View the University Writing Project guidelines (PDF).


University Writing Project Results