Major Assignment Scoring System

I grade major writing assignments according to rubrics I have designed specifically for each assignment. Each will receive two separate sets of scores, one for Content and one for Grammar and Style. The Content score includes how well you accomplish the purpose of the assignment, how strong your thesis and argument are, how well the essay is organized, and (when relevant) how well you obey the conventions of your discipline. The Grammar and Style score includes mechanical errors of various types, concision, document formatting, and overall readability.

The scores on rubrics follow a check system:

A check-plus (√+) indicates superior work. Depending on the particular assignment or the area being scored, this can mean an original and provocative focus, an insightful thesis, a highly persuasive argument, outstanding use of support, clear and engaging organization, flawless clarity, complete absence of a certain kind of grammatical error, excellent concision, perfect adherence to academic conventions for quotations, or flawless formatting.

A check (√) indicates that you have fulfilled that specific goal and all the expectations that go along with it: a clear and appropriate thesis, a solid argument without logical gaps, effective use of support, clear organization, or only minor errors in clarity, concision, and so on.

A check-minus (√-) indicates barely adequate college-level writing; your work has obvious flaws in that specific area, but they are not so overwhelming that a voluntary reader would throw down your essay in disgust and walk away.

A minus score (–) indicates severe problems: a thesis that makes little or no sense or is inappropriate to the assignment, a lack of careful argumentation or support, poor organization, significant passages that are confusing to a reader, poor grammar, overwhelming wordiness, an apparent ignorance of academic conventions regarding citations and formatting, or general carelessness. Note that exceptionally clear, concise, and graceful writing can earn you extra credit on the Grammar and Style portion of the rubric.

For purposes of grade computation, a check-plus counts as a score of 100%, a check counts as an 85%, a check-minus counts as a 75%, and a minus counts as a 70% for most of the categories; in a few stylistic categories, a check-plus counts as a score of 110%, a check counts as a score of 100%, a check-minus counts as a 90%, and a minus counts as an 80%.

The Content and Grammar and Style scores are averaged separately. However, on these major assignments, a further step occurs: these scores are multiplied together, not averaged. For example, if the Content scores comes out to an 88.3% average, and the Grammar and Style score comes out to a 92.5%, the final grade for the assignment will be 81.7% (88.3% x 92.5% = 81.6775%, which is then rounded up). The rationale for this is that no reader averages the Content and Style of a written document in his or her mind. Rather, any grammatical and stylistic errors get in the way of his or her comprehension and enjoyment.