Assessment Rubrics and Standards: English 234 and 400-Level Seminars
4 The writer articulates the thesis clearly and presents cogent evidence in favor of his or her argument in every paragraph.
3 The writer states the thesis reasonably clearly—the reader does not need to guess or even to infer the paper’s thesis—and supports the argument with solid evidence and reasons. In one or two spots the evidence seems flimsy, or the argument tendentious, but overall the writer presents a careful, sound, and convincing argument.
2 The writer states one thesis but ends up arguing two or more. The argument seems rushed or perfunctory, and the evidence that the writer presents to support his/her claims is inadequate.
1 There is more than one thesis or none at all. The writer often substitutes textual summary for argumentation. S/he presents opinions rather than evidence and reasons for his/her claims, often signaled by such phrases as “I think” and “I believe.”
II Critical thinking
Appreciation of nuance
4 An intelligent voice seems to speak; the writer raises original questions about the text and/or subject matter, gives evidence of having thought about these questions from several perspectives, and offers fresh and compelling answers to them. The paper moves beyond the material discussed in class.
3 The writer has engaged the relevant questions about a text or topic but without the nuance, sophistication, or originality of a “4” writer.
2 The writer has considered some relevant, if obvious, questions about a text or topic but offers prosaic answers to them in a sometimes dogmatic style.
1 The writer oversimplifies complex problems. The paper is dotted with platitudes.
4 The paper fulfills the requirements of the assignment. The writer may well have a creative “take” on the topic, but the paper as a whole fits into the parameters that the instructor has laid out.
3 The writer generally works within the frame of the assignment but does not appear to have as crisp a sense of the assignment’s details as does a “4” writer.
2 The writer does not fully grasp the requirements of the assignment.
1 The paper is completely off topic.
4 Every paragraph is in its proper place, and the transitions are smooth. The argument builds methodically toward a conclusion. In addition, the sentences within each paragraph are well-articulated: there is a topic sentence in every paragraph, followed by evidence and reasons for the claim laid out in the topic sentence. Quotations fit seamlessly into the text. Each paragraph forms a miniature essay that supports the thesis and fits integrally into the paper as a whole.
3 The paper is well organized, but the transitions do not have the finesse of those in a “4” paper: the reader can see the “rivets” that hold the essay together. Quotations are reasonably well-integrated, though one or two signal phrases are a bit awkward.
2 The paper has a discernible order, but the writer may not have moved far beyond the five-paragraph format. The transitions are rough, some quotations are “dropped” into the text without warning or explanation, and the essay does not build organically toward a conclusion.
1 There is little discernible organization within the paragraphs or in the essay as a whole.
4 Grammar, spelling, and citations (if required) are nearly perfect.
3 There may be a few minor grammatical errors and a period out of place in the “Works Cited” section, but on the whole the paper is grammatically clean and correct. The grammatical and spelling errors are limited to difficult issues (everyone/their; “canoing” rather than “canoeing”).
2 There are grammatical errors, but they are neither so pervasive as to slow down the reader nor so serious that the reader cannot understand what the writer is trying to say. “Its” becomes “It’s” rather oftener than it should.
1 Sloppy grammatical, spelling, and citation mistakes litter the piece.
4 The language is clear, concise, and sometimes elegant. The word choice is apt; the writer chooses his or her words carefully and does not suffer from “thesaurus-itis.”
3 The language is clear, though not elegant, economical but not quite “succinct.” Word choice lacks the crisp appositeness of a “4” essay. (From the OED, s.v., “succinct”: a1637 B. JONSON Discov. (1641) 119: “A strict and succinct style is that, where you can take away nothing without losse, and that losse to be manifest.”)
2 The writer uses more words than necessary to convey his or her point, perhaps to pad the essay. S/he occasionally lapses into cliché. S/he misuses some words and uses some words in almost the right sense.
1 The writer should consider a major other than English.
--Reading comprehension rubric?