Two years ago I was preparing for a semester in which all of my classes involved “multimodal” student work — that is, theoretically-informed, research-based work that resulted in something other than a traditional paper. For years I’d been giving students in my classes the option of submitting, for at least one of their semester assignments, a media production or creative project (accompanied by a support paper in which they addressed how their work functioned as “scholarship”) — but given that that this cross-platform work would now become the norm, I thought I should take some time to think about how to fairly and helpfully evaluate these projects. How do we know what’sgood?
So I wrote up a little pseudo-literature review, “Evaluating Multimodal Student Work,” which, I was glad to see, quite a few folks seemed to find helpful. Since I’ve been explicitly discussing the process and politics of evaluation with my students for a couple years now — and because I was invited to lead a workshop on Evaluation & Critique of DH Projects at the upcoming THATCamp Theory at Rutgers in October — I thought I should revisit the issue.
I’ll try to clean up that post from two years ago and add some insights I’ve gleaned from other sources since then, including the collection of essays on “Evaluating Digital Scholarship” that came out in the MLA’s Profession late last year. In recent years the MLA and other professional organizations have made statements and produced guides regarding how “digital scholarship” should be assessed in faculty (re)appointment and review — and these statements are indeed valuable resources — but I’m more interested in here in how to evaluate student work.