The following are criteria specific to written work; also see Tips for Writing Class Essays, my writing feedback handout, and see Writing Reading Responses for examples of good vs. better writing.
I assess and give feedback on writing via the following four dimensions.
- Engagement with the assignment's scope and class material might be (a) impressive, (b) appropriate, (c) lacking, (d) inappropriate, (f) or nonexistent.
Understanding of readings, discussions, themes and ideas might be (a) impressive, (b) thorough and solid, (c) somewhat fragmented, (d) unsatisfactory, or (f) nonexistent.
- Did you make a checklist and follow directions?
- Did you make use of course material, rather than spending too much time describing the topic?
- Did you write down all the possible course concepts and *then* engage your topic, as I recommend in Choosing a Topic?
- To avoid complaints of "too abstract," did you paraphrase or excerpt the definition of a concept, even if you don't use it in the final prose, so it is clear in your mind?
Writing might be (a) polished, (b) clear and competent, (c) choppy and difficult to follow, (d) fractured and unclear, or (f) unacceptable.
- Did you show close readings of class discussions and texts (e.g., quotations and paraphrases)? (see Writing Responses.)
- Did you explain what course concepts mean, as I recommend in Writing Class Essays, rather than using them in passing?
- Did you ask questions or make arguments at a high level: did you apply, analyze, or synthesize existing concepts—or even generate new ones (e.g., frameworks, taxonomies, theories)?
And scholarly support indicates that references and bibliography are appropriate to some standard guide (e.g., APA, APA, Chicago).
- Did you make sure you have a strong introduction/framing and conclusion paragraph?
- Did you follow and check spelling, grammar, and compositional rules? (Consult your writing and style manual and my writing feedback handout.)
- Do your citations and bibliography conform to the style? (See Bibliography)
The final grade is holistic and is informed by but not formally computed from the variables above; rather they are provided so you might most easily identify and improve upon earlier performance.
A = Excellent
Writing demonstrates impressive understanding of readings, discussions, themes and ideas. Written work is fluid, clear, analytical, well-organized and grammatically polished. Reasoning and logic are well-grounded and examples precise.
B = Good
Work demonstrates a thorough and solid understanding of readings, discussions, themes and ideas. Written work is clear and competent, but is somewhat general, a bit vague, or otherwise lacking in precision. While analytical, writing presents more description than analysis. Arguments are solid but not thoroughly original or polished.
C = Fair
Work demonstrates a somewhat fragmented understanding of readings, discussions, themes and ideas. Shows acquaintance with readings and ideas, but not intellectual engagement. Written work is choppy and argument somewhat difficult to follow, examples are vague or irrelevant, and ideas are imprecise. Work veers toward underdeveloped ideas, off-topic sources or examples, personal anecdotes, creative writing, memoir, etc.
D = Unsatisfactory
Work demonstrates little understanding or even acquaintance with readings, discussions, themes and ideas. Written work is choppy, fractured and unclear. Argument follows little logical development, or work presents little discernible argument whatsoever.
F = Failure / Unacceptable
Work does not demonstrate understanding of topics, ideas and readings. This is also the grade for work not submitted and plagiarized work.