National Writing Project

Prominent Feature Analysis: What It Means for the Classroom

By: Sherry Swain, Richard L. Graves, David Morse
Publication: English Journal
Date: March 2010

Summary: The authors present an argument for and a guide to prominent feature analysis, which, unlike rubric-based scoring that assigns numerical values to abstract concepts, derives numerical values from the presence of rhetorical features.


Excerpt from Article

In prominent feature analysis, there are no guidebooks, no rubrics, just student papers and the expertise of teachers. Teachers come to the papers individually, and yet work as a team, analyzing the papers but also having the advantage of multiple points of view, with the added value of rich professional conversation. All involved in the process are learning. Looking deeply into the writing of their students, teachers are not only better prepared to make sound instructional decisions but are also better able to articulate the quality of their students' writing abilities."

Copyright © 2010 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Posted with permission.
Swain, Sherry Seale, Richard L. Graves, and David T. Morse. 2010, March. "Prominent Feature Analysis: What It Means for the Classroom." English Journal 99 (4): 84-89.

About the Authors Sherry Seale Swain is a senior research associate in the Research and Evaluation Unit of the National Writing Project. Richard L. Graves is professor emeritus of English education at Auburn University and editor of several volumes on composition and teaching. David Morse is professor of educational psychology and professor of psychology at Mississippi State University.

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