Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Grading Rubric

Grading is a part of the course in which I do not necessarily find pleasure. While I enjoy responding to your formal assignments and helping you improve your work and deepen your thinking, having to put a letter at the end as sort of a final act is not fun. Still, grades are a necessary part of a college education, and after teaching for several years, I do have a clear sense of how to grade particular essays. It is my responsibility to be as clear as possible to you about how I grade and what you need to do to receive the grade you want. This rubric is meant to stimulate discussion between us about what makes strong writing. Let's go over your assignments together and talk about what to do to improve them. Use this as a starting place for learning and a guide as you revise.

As you look at the list that follows each grade range, notice the order in which I present each item. This reflects how important each item is when I make decisions about grades. In other words, the most important thing when I grade any assignment is whether or not you complete the assignment itself. After that, I look at the other elements in order. I start with an essay in the "C" range since that's what a typically average essay earns.

A formal assignment in the "C" range:
  • Meets the basic requirements of the prompt,
  • Follows a clear organizational plan,
  • Centers on a controlling purpose,
  • Uses concrete and specific details,
  • Provides supporting reasons and information, and
  • Displays few grammatical and stylistic errors that do not impede meaning.
A formal assignment in the "B" range:
  • Meets the requirements of the prompt fully,
  • Follows a clear organizational plan that does not feel rigid or confining,
  • Focuses on a specific and clear controlling purpose,
  • Uses concrete and specific details that address almost all reader questions,
  • Provides a range of supporting information, and
  • Displays strong sentence styles and structures.
A formal assignment in the "A" range:
  • Goes beyond the requirements of the prompt;
  • Exhibits an original, clear, and insightful perspective;
  • Includes rich and vivid details that do not feel extraneous or overbearing;
  • Flows freely and never causes the reader to stumble or pause;
  • Explains ideas completely yet succinctly; and
  • Follows rules of grammar while also using a variety of sentence styles and structures.
A formal assignment in the "D" range:
  • Generates text without much connection to the prompt,
  • Jumps around without following a clear pattern of organization,
  • Follows tangents and irrelevant points,
  • Uses few details or only keeps things abstract,
  • Provides little support in terms of evidence, and
  • Exhibits a disregard for sentence structure and grammar that impedes meaning.
A formal assignment in the "F" range:
  • Does not meet the general requirements of the prompt including page length,
  • Uses little or no detail or support,
  • Does not display a clear plan for organization, and
  • Exhibits a clear and obvious disregard for sentence structure and style that impedes meaning.

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