Evaluation Heuristic

Based on our class discussion, here is the proposed evaluation heuristic. I am leaving up the heuristic from Fall 2011 for your personal growth and edification. :)

Fall 2013: Writing for New Media


  • To what extent does this project convey a clear message?
  • Does this project have a substantive, controlling idea?

Form and Content

  • Do the project’s structural or formal elements serve the conceptual core in an effective and efficient manner?
  • Are the project’s design decisions deliberate, controlled, and defensible?
  • Is the project accessible and usable under reasonable circumstances?


  • To what extent does it engage the intended audience?

Ethical Issues

  • Does the project successfully and ethically integrate borrowed information?

FALL 2011: Writing for New Media


  • Does the media’s content intentionally flow well?
  • Is the purpose coherent and easily understood?
  • Is there clear distinction and organization between separate elements?
  • Are the elements concise, without too much overlap?
  • Is there a need for different perspectives, depending on assignment parameters?

Ethics & Responsible Use

  • Is the work original?
  • Is the individual credible with his/her use of borrowed information? (Cited information inserted in end-of-video credit roll)
  • Do the media generate a thought-provoking reaction?
  • Is the media used as a method of connecting human beings to a shared experience?


  • Do the media appeal to a certain demographic or niche audience?
  • Is the media meant to be informational, entertaining, persuasive, or argumentative?
  • Do the media only use humans or are inanimate objects, animals, etc. part of the presentation?
  • How are the characters portrayed? Are there stereotypes present?


  • Can the audience explore issues more in-depth?
  • Is there some kind of evaluation device, either a comments box or poll for information exchange?


  • Do the media tell a story?
  • Is the story thought-provoking or entertaining?
  • How does the author use the new media to convey a message or drive home a point?
  • Are the author’s rhetorical strategies actually effective in conveying a point or message?
  • Is the audience intrigued by layout/design?
  • How do visual and audio cues enhance the user’s experience?
  • Is the message both memorable and/or enjoyable?

Audio/Visual Quality

  • Can audio and/or text be easily heard/understood both verbally and non-verbally?
  • Is the picture quality clear?

 *Exceptional/Exemplary Category: (if you want to go above and beyond)*

  • Do the media contribute to the exchanging of open ideas and freedom of expression, without infringing on basic moral boundaries?
  • Is the media a means of self-aggrandizement or is used as a method of connecting human beings to a shared experience?
  • Does the media creation make any contributions to societal or cultural thought?
  • If it is a web article or text, can readers view more similar items/pieces by the same author?

4 Responses to Evaluation Heuristic

  1. Evidence. I have been lobbying for several weeks about the importance of somehow measuring “substance” or “evidence” or something… back near the beginning of the term, we discussed a particularly provocative bullet point of a sample heuristic we looked at: “passion is ok, rants are not.”

    Last week, I posted a concern regarding the “six traits” writing heuristic, and that while it considers voice and audience and so forth, it does not consider “evidence” or “support.” At the bottom of any rhetorical presentation, one must ask if it balances the two elements “assertion” and “support.” We’ve all heard that “exceptional claims require exceptional evidence.” It seems to me that an utterance that is too light on assertion and too heavy on support is um… boring and pointless, while an utterance that is too heavy on assertion and too light on support (we’ve all seen such presentations in the political realm, at least) is less than credible.

    To that end: I propose that we include a dimension that goes something like:
    “Does the presentation appropriately balance assertion and support?”

    Just my 2¢ worth.

  2. Sarah says:

    I love what we have come up with! I might add something in the Core section:
    Does this project have a controlling idea, and is it presented effectively AND efficiently?
    And then under Form and Content: Is the project accessible and usable under reasonable circumstances? (I think this is too vague. Although, I know we said we liked vague; now I’m not sure.)

    I like where Nik is going; however, I’m still a little confused on what he means by assertion and support.

  3. David says:

    I’m in agreement with the heuristic as written, and am happy that most of the class agreed (or didn’t voice any disagreement, at least) on our more vague model for grading.

    Sarah, Nik’s argument is that if we have a point, back it up. But don’t simply give facts over and over in a boring way. However, as our projects are new media, specifically video, grading based on the balance of argument and support in a 60 second clip will be difficult in my opinion. Hopefully, audio and visual components can be combined to do both jobs.

  4. I guess what I’m really concerned about more than anything is that a project actually HAVE some substance. Like David says, it’s all about backing up your opinions. But I believe that ANY piece of rhetoric, in ANY format, ought to HAVE a point. And back it up.

    So a piece shouldn’t just spend big efforts just to “evidence” things that are obvious, nor should it make claims over and over again without providing any basis for those claims.

    Meanwhile, I don’t want to try to force this into a “scholarly” thing only. I think that would be too limiting. But even something entertaining and whatnot should have a POINT (which we’ve sorta covered with the “controlling idea” thing, but maybe we need to say something about the “controlling idea” being “justified” or something?)

    Sarah: is “efficiently” just assumed as part of “effectively”? Or do we need to spell it out? Likewise, do we need to spell out exactly what “under reasonable circumstances” means? I wonder if we can trust ourselves to use this heuristic appropriately, and we as a group pretty much understand what we mean… idk… do we need to remove all possible “ambiguity” from it? I personally like “vague” as long as it isn’t abused.

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