Think of the time and effort we could save if we simply did our assessments, gathered the relevant parties, and then had an engaging conversation about our findings. Why not let an automated transcript of the conversation serve as the permanent record of the assessment? Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Even if the practice were feasible, it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of an assessment report.
What a hammer does for the fist, what pliers do for the grip, what a telescope does for the eye, writing does for the mind. Unaided, the mind can contemplate solutions to complex problems, but attention wanders and memories fade. Writing not only preserves our thoughts but also sharpens our thinking. By sequencing sound on durable paper, we can contemplate the products of our own minds from a higher vantage— and with a steady gaze. Our words, now external objects, can be revised, reshaped, refined, reorganized, and most important, revisited. As Susan Sontag (2000) observed, “what I write is smarter than I am. Because I can rewrite it.”
Think of writing not as a way to transmit a message but as a way to grow and cook a message. Writing is a way to end up thinking something you couldn’t have started out thinking. —Peter Elbow (1998, p. 15)
Excerpt from p. 30 of Schneider, W. J., Lichtenberger, E. O, Mather, N., & Kaufman, N. L. (2018). Essentials of Assessment Report Writing (2nd ed). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.