Rubrics for Evaluating Papers

August 1, 2008

ACS Learning Community summer 2008 workshop (supported by VITAL).

Suggested paragraphs on course goals for inclusion (or adaptation) in Learning Community ACS Syllabi.

  Strong Work 1 Needs Development Unsatisfactory
Audience Assumes audience is student who has read assigned texts carefully; paper uses evidence to make points rather than to summarize Spends inappropriate amount of time merely summarizing text or repeating material covered in class Shows little evidence of having read the text; ideas mostly taken from class notes or class discussion
Thesis Single clear thesis that would be insightful and interesting to someone who had already studied the texts Thesis is either somewhat unclear or all too obvious to most thoughtful readers No clear thesis, or multiple theses
Introductory paragraph(s) Avoids inflated generalizations and gratuitous praise; sets brief context; introduces clear thesis Extraneous generalization; connection to thesis not entirely clear; thesis statement not clear No clear thesis statement or sense of where the paper is going
Paragraphs in body of paper Strong topic sentences, supported by evidence and argumentation; topic sentences support main thesis Some topic sentences do not support thesis, or are not supported by evidence in paragraph No topic sentences; or little relationship between topic sentences and thesis; or no evidence for topic sentences
Argument All necessary points in proving or developing thesis are made; makes compelling argument for thesis; paper does not assume reader agrees with author Some missteps are made in proving or developing thesis; argument only compelling to someone who already agrees Essay fails to prove or develop any sort of compelling thesis
Organization Argument intelligently ordered and easy to follow, reflected in order of points and paragraphs Logical flow of argument needs improvement by reordering some points and/or paragraphs Material is disorganized with no clear logical order between points and/or paragraphs
Use of Evidence Draws evidence from close reading of a variety of passages; evidence is appropriate to points being made; all quotations cited using MLA format Evidence drawn from only one or two passages in text; some evidence does not support points made; citations present but not in correct format Little evidence used; does not support points made; drawn entirely from class discussion; material quoted without citation
Conclusion Hints at implications, broader conclusions, or insightful ideas to think about, based on analysis so far Summarizes everything that has been said so far but does not leave the reader with something further to think about Essay fails to offer a satisfactory conclusion and/or simply recycles the introductory paragraph.
Mechanics Nearly flawless grammar, spelling, and word choice; sentences read smoothly and are clear without being wordy Grammar, spelling, word choice, sentence structure and/or word economy need attention Serious problems with grammar, spelling, word choice, sentence structure and/or word economy

Note: if outside sources are permitted, see separate guidelines on using secondary sources and websites.

1 An A-level paper will be strong in most categories; B papers will be strong in some but need development in others; C papers need significant development; D papers are typically unsatisfactory in most categories; most people who get F’s haven’t read these criteria.