Re-Imagining narrative writing and assessment: SEA funded research

SEA is so pleased to announce the publication in the Australian Journal of Language and Literacy of an SEA funded research project. 

Reimagining narrative writing and assessment: a post-NAPLAN craft based rubric for creative writing’ (Carey et al., 2022)[1] is an article based on research which evaluated the use of an assessment rubric in Year 9 Steiner school students based on craft-based approaches to imaginative writing. This rubric was compared with the function and form criteria of the NAPLAN rubric.

The study showed that assessment of creatively written texts can be assessed with a high degree of validity and reliability when the narrative form is taught with an integrated craft-based approach. This was a key aim of the 10-week program – Approaching Literacy Through Narrative and Creative Writing – based on a synthesis of Steiner pedagogies, performative approaches to creative writing and 8 Ways Learning.

This is significant research. Since NAPLAN commenced in 2008, there has been little or no improvement in young people’s writing skills. It is common for politicians to blame teachers and schools for this situation, but the authors conclude that it is the NAPLAN test itself that is influencing teaching and learning, resulting in an approach to teaching narrative writing which is ‘narrow and reductive and does not assist students to use their imaginations to become innovative creative writers’ (Carey et al.,2022, p. 3).

Students need to see themselves as writers. They need to feel deeply engaged with the writing process. The NAPLAN rubric, however, with its form and function focussed criteria, punishes students who show experimentation with form and types of story-telling. Such experimentation is vital as it develops imaginative capacities as well as the associated forms and conventions of writing. ‘Learning to write well for any purpose and in any context ultimately depends on the writer’s imaginative capacity and the writer’s ability to control and craft these imaginings into words’ (Carey et al.,2022).

It is more important than ever for students to write artfully in diverse contexts and subject disciplines (Carey et al., 2022). As the 10-week program demonstrated, these craft-based skills can be taught and assessed with a high degree of validity and reliability. This research has highlighted the need for educators to continue to openly question the current focus on high stakes NAPLAN testing as it may be contributing to ‘falling standards’ in writing rather than supporting ongoing improvement.

Carey, M., Davidow, S., & Williams, P. (2022). Re-imagining narrative writing and assessment: a post-NAPLAN craft-based rubric for creative writing. The Australian Journal of Language and Literacy. https://doi.org/10.1007/s44020-022-00004-4

[1] https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s44020-022-00004-4.pdf

Apr 2022