Grading Evaluation Criteria

The following descriptions form a rough profile of the general categories your English instructor will consider when grading your essays. Although no one category is given more weight than any other, serious problems in any one of these categories will obviously affect your grade. These guidelines have been formulated by the English faculty both for your own information and because they offer us some structure as we think and talk about what makes a good essay.

Quality and Content of Ideas

High (A to B+): shows a clear understanding of the assignment; takes a position that is both valid and perceptive or original, authenticating it through personal experiences and/or well-chosen specifics from outside sources; maintains logical consistency so that there are no contradictory or mutually exclusive statements;

Middle (B to C-): makes a genuine attempt to respond to the parameters set up in the assignment; takes a valid but predictable position, making some attempt to authenticate it through experience or outside sources; maintains logical consistency, though there may be minor lapses.

Low (D+ to F): ignores or seriously misinterprets the assignment; repeats truisms or clich├ęs without attempting to validate them or strings facts together without connecting them; makes illogical or self-contradictory statements.

Overall Organizational Control

High: establishes control through a sharp, focused thesis; achieves unity by including only relevant material; structures material according to a discernible but unobtrusive organizational pattern; shows good command of the role of paragraphing in organizing material; uses transitions effectively.

Middle: carves out a thesis, though it may be too broad for effective treatment within the scope of the assignment; maintains overall unity, though occasional intrusions of material not clearly related to the thesis may appear; has an organizational plan which may be somewhat mechanical; shows some understanding of the role of paragraphing in organizing material; occasionally uses transitions.

Low: fails to articulate a thesis or starts from sweeping generalizations; jumps from point to point; introduces irrelevant material; lacks a discernible plan for organizing the material; uses paragraphing randomly or not at all; uses transitions rarely or not at all.

Presentation of Supporting Evidence

High: maintains a good ratio of general statements to specific supports, making sure that the former always have sufficient back-up from personal experience or from secondary sources; uses both direct quotation and/or paraphrase for support, being careful to provide a context and lead-in for them; paraphrases accurately; clearly distinguishes between own ideas and those from other sources.

Middle: usually backs up general statements with specifics, though some sections may remain under-developed; uses direct quotation and/or paraphrase for support, though the lead-ins may sometimes be omitted or the reader left to establish their relevance for herself; paraphrases accurately, though sometimes retaining too much of the original's flavor; sometimes fails to distinguish between own ideas and those from sources.

Low: fails to provide specific support from outside sources; uses sources inappropriately so that they are not grammatically, logically, or organizationally integrated into the rest of the essay; plagiarizes rather than paraphrases; fails to distinguish between own ideas and those from sources.

Concern for the Audience

High: maintains a consistent point of view (tense and person); generates interest through sentence structures that are both correct and varied; uses diction that is apt and appropriate for the audience; is aware of the connotative meaning of words; uses language that is inclusive and gender neutral.

Middle: maintains a relatively consistent point of view, though there may be a slip-up or two; uses sentence structures that are correct but monotonous and do not interfere with the flow of information; uses diction that is correct but lacking in sparkle; occasionally shows awareness of connotative word meanings and of the importance of inclusive language.

Low: frequently shifts point of view; uses sentences that are excessively choppy or convoluted and interfere with the flow of information; uses diction that is inaccurate, very vague, or inappropriate for the audience; shows lack of awareness of connotative word meanings and uses language that exhibits bias.

Mechanics and Spelling

High: documents accurately; makes no serious sentence errors (run-ons, fragments, or comma splices); observes the conventions of standard English (capitalization, punctuation, etch); rarely misspells.

Middle: documents when necessary, though the format may be incorrect in some details; makes no more than one or two serious sentence errors; observes most of the conventions of standard English; spells most ordinary words correctly; overall, errors in spelling and mechanics are not seriously distracting to the reader.

Low: fails to document at all or makes no attempt to follow prescribed formats; makes numerous glaring sentence errors; makes frequent errors in standard English; makes pervasive spelling errors; overall, errors in spelling and mechanics create a significant barrier for the reader.

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