American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ) 2014 Conference

On Thursday, March 27th, there was an Association for Teachers of Japanese (ATJ) meeting in Philadelphia, PA. This is part of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) conference, and it focuses solely on Japan related topics, so it was a great opportunity to attend many interesting and educational presentations. It was even better this time, since I was able to attend this conference as one of the presenters.

My presentation was on writing assessment and use of rubric titled “Writing Assessment: Ideas on Improving Reliability, Practicality, and Impact.” In this presentation, I explained how I combined the traditional method of taking points off on grammar, vocabulary, and so forth, with holistic rubric to assess students’ writing. The rubric I’m including in this post is a revised version I’m hoping to use next semester (below; click image to download PDF). This includes several new assessment points. The idea to add these came after I have examined ACTFL’s proficiency guidelines on writing.


I have been using this method for the past two years for my Advanced Japanese class (JAPN150/151), and I believe that it works for this level. However, to determine if this has validity, I have asked another Japanese teacher and my teaching assistant to score students’ writing using the rubric to see if there is consistency or not. I’m still in the process of gathering the information, but I’m looking forward to seeing if this is something I can continue to use in assessing students’ writing in the future.

Since this method was used to score final exams, there was no feedback given to students. Therefore, I have started to include the rubric in the course packet this semester to give students more understanding on what is expected of them when they write for homework. There is no score on this version, so I provide feedback with letter G for Great, and so forth along with comments where they received “good” or “OK.” Students’ verdict is not in yet (I will ask them using questionnaire at the end of the semester), but it has made me realize how this helps me when I give them feedback. Having a category to focus to comment on, it feels much easier for me to be clear and precise.

There were many other interesting presentations related to assessment, and I was able to gain knowledge and perspective by attending this conference. I am grateful to CLS for giving me a chance to attend AATJ. I am certain that I will be able to use the knowledge I gained from attending this conference.

Mari Stever
Senior Lector of Japanese
EALL, Yale University

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