chapter  3
16 Pages

Situation(s): Using Descriptive Evaluation

The following three compositions were all produced in the same class for the same assignment:

a letter to Olga Vives, vice president for Action at NOW

a Web site intended to inform the public about SSRIs and addiction

e-mails to doctors and medical researchers to express concerns about the increasing numbers of prescriptions for antidepressants

Yet, in each case, the format appears radically different, and each incorporates computer-mediated communication in different ways. The Web site explicitly uses technology-and a rhetoric that is web based; the e-mails use technology, but in a way that is clearly a repurposing of print-based rhetoric; and, the letter employs the conventional rhetorical moves associated with that genre. Even the letter, however, was influenced by technology; both the research behind the letter and the student’s search for information about her audience, the National Organization of Women, were computer-mediated activities. Given these differences, the ability to include situation-what Marjorie Goodwin (1990) called participatory frameworks-in the assessment of a composition becomes all the more pressing.