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Enhancing TA Grading of Technical Writing: A Look Back to Better Understand the Future

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Technical Session: Student Experience & Perspectives

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.667.1 - 26.667.12



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Paper Authors


Krista M. Kecskemety Ohio State University

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Krista Kecskemety is a Senior Lecturer in the Engineering Education Innovation Center at The Ohio State University. Krista received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2006 and received her M.S. from Ohio State in 2007. In 2012, Krista completed her Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State. Her engineering education research interests include investigating first-year engineering student experiences, faculty experiences, and the connection between the two.

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Andrew H. Theiss Ohio State University

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Andrew Theiss is a Ph.D. student in the biomedical engineering graduate program at The Ohio State University. Andrew received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2009. He currently works as a graduate research associate in the Wexner Medical Center and is in his third year as a graduate teaching associate in the Engineering Education Innovation Center (EEIC). His engineering research interests are focused on the development of biosensing systems utilizing field-effect transistor platform, and his education research interests include first-year experience and TA development.

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Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Engineering Education Innovation Center and the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching. Currently, she teaches within the first-year engineering program at Ohio State while maintaining an active engineering education research program.

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Enhancing TA Grading of Technical Writing: A Look Back to Better Understand the FutureTechnical writing is an important skill in all engineering disciplines. Many first-yearengineering programs (FYEPs) include technical writing as one of their core course componentsto begin to instill the importance of and to develop this skill early in aspiring engineers. In orderto assess student learning and provide feedback on technical writing, proper grading of theseassignments is essential. This paper will present the preliminary assessment results of a newgrading training program for teaching assistants (TAs) in a FYEP that was implemented at alarge land grant institution while situating the findings in past research related to grading ofwriting assignments and preparing TAs.To better understand past and current efforts in this area, we have detailed our TA gradingtraining for technical writing over the past few years below. Prior to Autumn 2013, the gradingtraining typically consisted of a single, two hour session at the beginning of the semester wherethe TAs worked through grading of a sample report in groups. After this session, TAs were onlyapproached again if there were major anomalies noted in their grading. In Autumn 2013, a pilotgrading training program was implemented in order to further improve the grading of technicalwriting and to help promote consistency in scores and feedback to the students. While this pilotgrading training program was successful, there were still improvements that could have beenmade. Finally, in Autumn 2014, a new grading training program was fully implemented thatconsisted of creating a set of baseline graded writing assignments that were used to help calibrateeach TA’s grading. After providing the TAs feedback on how their scores compared, theygraded another set of assignments and again feedback was provided. A follow-up trainingsession was then held for those TAs that still did not score within the acceptable range.This paper will summarize the approach used to enhance the grading of TAs that was brieflydiscussed above. We will supplement this with qualitative results from a series of focus groupsthat were used to assess the training. Finally, we will provide recommendations or “Tricks of theTrade” for TAs who may be grading technical writing and those who are responsible for trainingTAs for this type of grading.

Kecskemety, K. M., & Theiss, A. H., & Kajfez, R. L. (2015, June), Enhancing TA Grading of Technical Writing: A Look Back to Better Understand the Future Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24005

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