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Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

Evaluation of Writing:

By giving clearly written assignments, establishing criteria, and offering the opportunity to revise, an instructor can set definite standards for students to achieve and also can save time in grading the essays.


  1. Criteria should be identified as much as possible in the written assignment and these criteria used to guide our responses. As we read student writing, we’ll become aware of “hidden” criteria that we’ll need to specify in subsequent assignments.
  2. Try experimenting with “criteria grids” in which criteria are listed and portions of credit (“points”) awarded for meeting each criterion.
  3. Usually avoid cryptic letter grades or point totals until after students have revised drafts. The presence of grades on early drafts focuses attention away from our written or oral comments, and grades force us to use our comments to justify our judgments rather than to help students improve drafts. Premature grades also end a process that should be allowed to continue.
  4. In recognizing some student writing, such as journals and impromptu, in-class work, try giving credit for quantity and regularity of work through a check or cumulative point system rather than via traditional letters.

SCORING GUIDES AND CHECKLISTS: These guides may be given to students when assignments are given and criteria are discussed and then used for grading final essays.

Scoring Guide for Essays: Here is an example of an analytic scale that might be used for different kinds of assignments: (John Bean)

Quality of Ideas (____points)

Range and depth of argument; logic of argument; quality of research or original thought; appropriate sense of complexity of the topic; appropriate awareness of opposing views.

Organization and Development (_____points)

Effective title; clarity of thesis statement; logical and clear arrangement of ideas; effective use of transitions; unity and coherence of paragraphs; good development of ideas through supporting details and evidence.

Clarity and Style (____points)

Ease of readability; appropriate voice, tone and style for assignment; clarity of sentence structure; gracefulness of sentence structure; appropriate variety and maturity of sentence structure.

Sentence Structure and Mechanics (____points)

Grammatically correct sentences; absence of comma splices, run-ons, fragments; absence of usage and grammatical errors; accurate spelling; careful proofreading; attractive and appropriate manuscript form.

Checklist for Research (Linda Anstendig)

Yes_____ No_____ Were the preliminary steps-notes, outline, thesis, rough draft-completed

Yes_____No_____ Is there a thesis, and consistent point of view towards the subject?

Yes_____No_____ Is there a clear focus maintained? Is there a clearly stated thesis?

Yes_____No_____ Is the introduction effective in presenting the subject?

Yes_____No_____ Are paragraphs clearly developed with good transitions between parts?

Yes_____No_____ Is the organization effective?

Yes_____No_____ Is there a balance between listing of facts and interpretation?

Yes_____No_____ Is the conclusion effective and not just a rehash of introduction?

Yes_____No_____ Are a variety of good sources used?

Yes_____No_____ Is documentation correct? Are there enough citations? Is Works Cited accurate?

Yes_____No_____ Are quotations well chosen? Are there enough? Too many? Are they accurate?

Yes_____No_____ Does the writer’s voice come through?

Yes_____No_____ Is the essay informative and interesting?

Yes_____No_____ Is there evidence of analysis, summary?

Yes_____No_____ Are there spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors which interfere with the effectiveness of the writing? Major problems are:

Yes_____No_____ Is the general format correct and the appearance neat?



Research Essay Worksheet (Linda Anstendig)


I. State your thesis and/or a nutshell sentence that sums up what you want to focus on in this essay.

II. What are at least 4 main points that you want to make in order to prove and/or support your thesis?





III. How might you organize these points?

IV. List at least four quotes (2 from reading-“primary source" and 2 from research -“secondary source") that you think important to use as evidence to support your points.






A. Outstanding Work. An A paper presents interesting, insightful ideas. There is a clear focus (thesis, controlling idea) which is developed in an organized, concise, logical manner. Unified and coherent paragraphs include specific, relevant supporting evidence and examples. Sentences are varied and well constructed. Word choices are precise, fresh, and vivid. There are virtually no errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage. Research, if used, is thorough, accurately documented, and effectively integrated.

B. Good Work. A B paper demonstrates a thoughtful, solid understanding of the subject. Although ideas are interesting, they tend to lack originality or insight. Focus is clear and content well organized, but paragraphs may be slightly underdeveloped or need more support. Most sentences are varied and well constructed. Word choice is generally appropriate. Although there may be some minor errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage, none of these problems is glaring or highly distracting. Research may not be as thorough, appropriately documented, or effectively integrated as an A paper.

C. Adequate Work. A C paper is an average paper, presenting ideas that may be obvious or unexceptional. Parts of the essay may be unclear and information general or repetitious. The essay is somewhat developed and organized. Paragraph breaks may not always correspond to shifts in topic. Sentence structure can be repetitive or awkward and word choice imprecise or inappropriate. Errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling or usage may distract the reader but do not prevent comprehension. Research may not be appropriately used or effectively integrated.

D. Poor Work. A D paper tends to lack insight and interesting ideas. Focus is often confusing or not easily identified. The essay is usually undeveloped and poorly organized. Paragraph breaks can be arbitrary. Statements are unsupported, repetitive, or irrelevant. Sentence structure and word choice may be inaccurate, confusing, or awkward. There are many grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage errors. Research is poorly documented and ineffectively used to develop the paper.

F. Unacceptable Work. An F paper presents simplistic, inappropriate, or incoherent ideas and lacks focus. It tends to be undeveloped and disorganized. Paragraphs are incoherent, and paragraph breaks often do not correspond to shifts in topic. Statements are unsupported, repetitive, or irrelevant. Sentence structure and word choice are inaccurate, confusing, or awkward. There are many grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage errors that often prevent comprehension. Research is not evident, or sources are undocumented, i.e., plagiarized.


Academic honesty demands that all students avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined by The Scribner Handbook for Writers as the act of using someone else’s words, ideas, or organizational patterns without giving credit to the source (DiYanni and Hoy 688). Plagiarism will result in failing the assignment and possibly the course. Please see the Pace Undergraduate Catalog for further discussion of penalties for plagiarism.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

  • Use quotation marks when quoting an author’s words exactly as they appear in the source. Also cite in the text or indicate in parentheses the author’s name and the page number at the end of each paraphrase or summary.
  • Use Modern Language Association (MLA) style documentation format for all LIT/COM papers. Note that other disciplines such as Social Sciences, Nursing, and Education use American Psychological Association (APA) format.
  • Include a Works Cited list (formerly called a bibliography) at the end of your essay.
  • Do not borrow, buy, or copy all or part of another person’s work-published or not-and submit it as your own.

    Works Cited

    DiYanni, Robert, and Pat C. Hoy, II. The Scribner Handbook for Writers, 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998.


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