Modeling Student Evaluations of Writing and Authors as a Function of Writing Errors
Writers are often judged by their audience, and these evaluations can encompass both the text and the authors. This study built upon prior research on writing evaluation and error perceptions to examine how interconnected or separable are these judgments. Using a within-subjects design, college students evaluated four essays demonstrating no errors, lower-level errors, higher-level errors, or both types. Evaluations included writing quality traits (e.g., conventions, ideas, organization, sentence fluency, and voice) and author characteristics (e.g., creativity, intelligence, generosity, and kindness). Exploratory factor analyses identified latent constructs within these ratings. One construct, Writing Quality and Skill, appeared to combine writing traits and authors’ intellectual ability (e.g., intelligence and knowledgeability). The second construct, Author Personality, seemed to comprise interpersonal author traits (e.g., kindness and loyalty). The two constructs were significantly and positively correlated. These results suggest that students tended to form holistic impressions of writing quality and authors rather than distinct judgments about individual traits. The spillover onto perceptions of authors’ personal characteristics may be representative of latent biases. Student raters were also more sensitive to lower-level errors than higher-level errors. Implications for biases and training related to peer assessment are discussed.
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