Volume 5, Issue 1: 2012

Introduction from the New Editors

by Diane Kelly-Riley and Peggy O'Neill, Editors

Welcome to the first volume of JWA under our editorship. For the last 14 months, we have been working with Brian Huot (the former editor), Hampton Press (the former publisher), and technology support to move JWA to an online, open-access format. Because of everyone's cooperation, we were able to get all of the JWA archives online. We also helped to publish Volume 4, Brian's last volume as editor.

Volume 5, the first that we have shepherded all the way through the publication process, marks the next step in our journey. It also marks a change in how the volumes will be conceived. Instead of holding articles so we can bundle them as a volume, volumes will be more dynamic, driven by the submissions. For the most part, articles will not need to be held up as we wait to fill out the volume or issue. Consequently, the timeline from submission to publication is shortened, making scholarship more quickly available. Each year will mark a volume. So, Volume 5 will encompass the 2012 year; Volume 6, 2013.

With that said, the traditional volume introduction no longer makes sense. We can't tell you how the articles relate to each other or make a case for the cohesiveness of the volume because we don't know the contents of the volume yet. What we will do instead is write an Afterword that reflects back on the volume and discusses common themes, methods, or conclusions, trying to make sense of the contents in retrospect.

At least that is how we are envisioning it, at this point. We'll check in at the end of 2012 and let you know how it's working. We hope you let us know what you think as well.

Marking the start of Volume 5, then, are two contributions. The first article, "Big rubrics and weird genres: The futility of using generic assessment tools across diverse instructional contexts," is by Chris M. Anson, Deanna P. Dannels, Pamela Flash, and Amy L. Housley Gaffney. The authors argue for "the education-wide abandonment of generic rubrics" and for the development of rubrics "purposefully-adapted" to the specific situation. Their argument is grounded in theories of communication and two case studies of writing/communicating across the disciplines programs at two different universities. Given the national discussions about testing and assessment, their argument is relevant to instructors of writing, program directors, assessment researchers/specialists, and educational leaders regardless of educational level, institution, or discipline.

Likewise, the second piece is just as relevant to our contemporary conversations about writing assessment regardless of our educational context: an annotated bibliography of machine scoring and evaluation of essay-length writing. Richard Haswell led a team of scholars (including Peggy) in identifying and reviewing relevant research in this area. It is not an exhaustive bibliography, as its introduction clarifies, but rather a primer, an attempt to identify the important research in the area and to provide a starting point for more in-depth study.

We hope you find these two pieces of scholarship valuable. Let us know what you think and check in to see what else is published as the year progresses. And please consider JWA as a venue for your own research in writing assessment. We aim to publish high quality scholarship that spans writing assessment K-college and beyond. See our link for submissions or drop us an email. Also, remember to visit--and contribute--to the JWA Reading List, which features brief reviews of contemporary texts relevant to writing assessment. Contact us if you would like to contribute a review.

Thank you for supporting JWA and our move online.

Diane Kelly-Riley, Washington State University
Peggy O'Neill, Loyola University Maryland