Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bennett A. Rafoth, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.


Composition has long recognized a rift between good classroom pedagogy for the instruction of writing and the institutional necessity of summatively assessing writing for a grade. While the former is student-centered, process-oriented, often collaborative, and increasingly constructionist in its approach, the latter is typically authoritarian and positivistic. Several pedagogies, such as contract grading and portfolio assessment, have emerged to address the rift between the two practices. By delaying or de-emphasizing grading, those pedagogies seek to help students stay focused on process writing and help teachers remain free of the dirty work of assessment. This dissertation contends that existing pedagogies have yet to truly reconcile the rift between assessment and practice. Delaying or contracting grading does not unify pedagogy and assessment into a single force. To truly unify pedagogy and assessment, I propose Critical Collaborative Assessment, the process through which teachers help students learn to assess from an institutional perspective through the use of whole-class workshops, small groups, and individual peer-assessment. The work begins with an analysis of peer response—the closest common activity to CCA—and contends that while peer response excels as a collaborative exercise, it ultimately falls short as a fully constructionist exercise. We can actualize peer response as a more fully constructionist exercise by inviting students to meaningfully exercise the most authoritative language of the discourse community, i.e. grades. Doing so not only unifies pedagogy and assessment, it also creates a situated learning environment in which students learn via practice rather than instruction, a postprocess pedagogy in which existing hermeneutic moves are discussed, and an environment of disclosure where our academic identities are revealed. Furthermore, CCA, which must permit students to question the nature of assessment and institutional power, reinvigorates critical pedagogy towards pragmatic aims. The later chapters offer an analysis of the existing research on other forms of peer-based assessment, as well as a detailed explanation of how CCA can be implemented in the classroom.