Comprehensive Grading Rubric for Formal Essays Criteria A (90-100) Outstanding B (80-89) Proficient C (70-79) Basic D/E (0-69) Below Expectations Introduction (Organization) The introduction is inviting, states the main topic and previews the structure of the paper. The introduction clearly states the main topic and previews the structure of the paper, but is not particularly inviting to the reader. The introduction states the main topic, but does not adequately preview the structure of the paper nor is it particularly inviting to the reader. There is no clear introduction of the main topic or structure of the paper. Sequencing and Transitions (Organization) Details are placed in a logical order and presented effectively, with thoughtful transitions that clarify connections between ideas. Details are placed in a logical order, but their presentation or the lack of variety in transitions may make the writing less interesting. Some details are not in a logical or expected order, and this distracts the reader. Connections between some ideas are fuzzy. Many details are not in a logical or expected order, and transitions are unclear. The writing seems disorganized. Pacing (Organization) The pacing is wellcontrolled. The writer knows when to slow down and elaborate, and when to pick up the pace and move on. The pacing is generally well-controlled but the writer occasionally does not elaborate enough. The pacing is generally well-controlled but the writer sometimes repeats the same point over and over, or spends too much time on details that don’t matter. The pacing often feels awkward to the reader. The writer elaborates when there is little need, and then leaves out necessary supporting information. Conclusion (Organization) The conclusion is strong and leaves the readers with a feeling that they understand what the writer is “getting at.” The conclusion is recognizable and ties up almost all the loose ends. The conclusion is recognizable, but does not tie up several loose ends. There is no clear conclusion; the paper just ends. Title The title somehow leads the reader toward the thesis without actually stating it and is correctly formatted. The title attempts to point to the thesis without actually stating it and is correctly formatted. The title seems not to accurately reflect the thesis and supporting content, and there may be errors in capitalization or spelling. There may be no title, or if there is a title, it is inappropriate and poorly constructed with errors in spelling. Focus on Thesis (Content) There is one clear, well-focused idea. Main idea stands out and is supported by detailed information. Main idea is clear. Main idea is somewhat clear. The main idea is not clear. Support for Thesis (Content) Relevant, telling, quality details give the reader important information that goes beyond the obvious or predictable. Writer uses both dramatic and social context in offering support for thesis. Supporting details and information are relevant, but one key issue or portion of the storyline is unsupported. Writer offers little in the way of dramatic context in offering support for thesis. Supporting details and information are relevant, but several key issues or portions of the storyline are unsupported. Writer uses no dramatic context in offering support for thesis. Supporting details and information are typically unclear or not related to the topic. Writer uses no dramatic context in offering support for thesis. Comprehensive Grading Rubric for Formal Essays Accuracy of Facts (Content) All supportive facts are reported accurately. Almost all supportive facts are reported accurately. Most supportive facts are reported accurately. NO facts are reported OR most are inaccurately reported. Sources (Content) All sources used for quotes and facts are credible and cited correctly. All sources used for quotes and facts are credible and most are cited correctly. Most sources used for quotes and facts are credible and cited correctly. Many sources used for quotes and facts are less than credible (suspect) and/or are not cited correctly. Audience The writer successfully uses reasons/appeals to show why the reader should care about the topic— anticipating and thoroughly addressing the reader’s questions, establishes credibility, and if writing Toulmin argument, acknowledges the opposing view with supporting points, offering counterarguments; if using the Rogerian Argument Structure, includes a paragraph that offers compromise on the issue. The writer successfully uses one or two reasons/appeals to show why the reader should care about the topic—anticipating the reader’s questions to some extent. The writer establishes credibility, and if writing Toulmin or Rogerian argument, acknowledges the opposing view with supporting points, but may offer slightly weak counterarguments or compromise, depending on the argument structure. The writer attempts to make the reader care about the topic, but is scarcely successful. The reader is somewhat insufficiently informed, and does not establish credibility to the extent needed. If writing Toulmin or Rogerian argument, the writer seems not to have explored the opposing view thoughtfully enough to be able to articulate it effectively or offer counterarguments or compromise, depending on the argument structure. The writer offers no attempt to make the reader care about the topic, and the writing leaves the reader with too many unanswered questions. Writer does not establish credibility, makes little or no effort to articulate the opposing view if writing Toulmin or Rogerian argument, and makes little or no effort to offer counterarguments or compromise, depending on the argument structure. Voice The writer seems to be writing from knowledge or experience. The author has taken the ideas and made them “his own.” The writer seems to be drawing on knowledge or experience, but there is some lack of ownership of the topic. The writer relates some of his own knowledge or experience, but it adds nothing to the discussion of the topic. The writer has not tried to transform the information in a personal way. The ideas and the way they are expressed seem to belong to someone else. Voice lost in research. Sentence Length and Structure (Sentence Fluency) Every paragraph contains clear and well constructed sentences that vary in length and sound natural. Almost all paragraphs have well constructed sentences that vary in length, but one or two are stiff and awkward or difficult to understand. Most sentences are well constructed, but with relatively little variety in structure and length. While most sentences sound natural, several are stiff and awkward or difficult to understand. Sentences are difficult to read because they are unclear, distractingly repetitive, and/or difficult to understand. Grammar, Mechanics, & Spelling (Conventions) Writer makes no errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics that distract the reader from the content. Writer makes a few (1-2) errors in grammar, mechanics, or spelling that slightly distract the reader from the content. Writer makes several (3-4) errors in grammar, mechanics, or spelling that distract the reader from the content. Writer makes frequent (more than 4) errors in grammar, mechanics, or spelling that repeatedly distract the reader from the content. Comprehensive Grading Rubric for Formal Essays Word Choice Writer uses vivid words and phrases that linger or draw pictures in the reader’s mind, and the choice and placement of the words seems accurate, natural and not forced. Writer uses vivid words and phrases that linger or draw pictures in the reader’s mind, but occasionally the words are used inaccurately or seem overdone. Writer uses words that communicate clearly, but the writing lacks variety, punch or flair. Writer uses a limited vocabulary that does not communicate strongly or capture the reader’s interest. Jargon or clichés may be present and detract from the meaning.
Do’s and Do Not’s for Help with Revising, Proofreading, and Editing Essays Do format your essay according to instructions in your syllabus and in “Guidelines for Writing and Submitting the Essay” under Handouts. Do make sure your title somehow speaks to your thesis. Do place quotation marks around the title of a short story or poem. Italicize longer works. Do make sure you write a compelling introduction and a strong conclusion. Do make sure you have an arguable thesis, one that has a strong opposing view. State the opposing view. Do make sure you have offered enough solid evidence in support of your argument, and that you have presented the opposing view and their reasons and evidence fairly. Do offer a counterargument to strengthen your own after treating the opposing view. Do make sure you have included both dramatic evidence from your text readings, as well as social evidence from library research (at least three or more outside sources to go with your dramatic sources from your readings). Do document parenthetically at the end of your sentence rather than break up the rhythm of your own sentence to document. Do document according to the following example: (Author’s last name and page number). (Smith 434). Note that the period belongs after the parenthetic reference. Do refer to the structures for Toulmin argument found in Handouts, Arguments A, B, and C. (These were addressed in a Live Classroom Session.) Do alphabetize your Works Cited page according to MLA Guidelines. Do not number your Works Cited listings. Use the correct MLA formatting. Do not place quotation marks around your own title. Do not refer to the author by first name later in your essay; use last name. Do not use indefinite “you” in academic writing; use first person plural we instead or one if appropriate and does not sound too formal. Do not use contractions in academic writing. Do not begin a sentence with a numeral. Do not begin a quote with ellipses. Do not use phrases such as I believe, I think, I feel, or in my opinion, as these weaken your statements. Do not use the words thing/things as these are vague words that weaken your writing. Do not use the word very, as it is an intensifier that has lost its intensity and weakens writing. Do not overlook run-on sentences. A run-on is an example of running two sentences together without the benefit of the needed punctuation and conjunction to connect them. Do not overlook comma splices. A comma splice is an example of using a comma alone to connect the two sentences without adding the needed conjunction. Do not overlook fragments. A fragment is an example of a sentence that has no subject and/or verb, but belongs with the sentence before or after it. Do not overlook subject/verb disagreement and pronoun/antecedent disagreement. Do not use slang and colloquial language in academic writing.