Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of English

Committee Chair

Bob Broad


Theories of hermeneutics (Moss) and complementarity (Broad and Boyd) claim that human understandings deepen when inquiries are informed by multiple perspectives. This thesis renders two distinct but related pedagogical enterprises—the teaching of writing and the teaching of horseback riding—reciprocally illuminating and complicating. As a result, the Elbovian “magic” of teaching, assessing, writing, and riding has come to light: the delicate humanity and intimacy of our work in both “communities of practice” (Star). My argument calls teachers to embrace this “magic” in our classrooms by addressing and normalizing fears that both we and our students experience. Doing so is essential to earning the trust we need to be truly effective teachers and to join the larger conversation about reimagining our large-scale assessment scene. I specifically argue for the design of a large-scale portfolio assessment that is assessed by teacher experts and provides “educative” feedback to students as part of their ongoing development as writers (Wiggins). Other teacher-researchers ought to undertake their own hermeneutic, complementary projects of reciprocal illumination in order to alter our communal “vantage point,” allowing us to see our deeply human craft of teaching and assessing writing in new and uniquely valuable ways (Star).


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