Here are some ways to apply what you've learned ...

In the Classroom

How to Grade Student Writing

by Karen Carlisi

There's no one "right" way to grade student writing. The bottom line, however, is to set the criteria and the process for grading at the beginning of the course. An effective teaching device can be to get students to think about grading criteria.  This can be done midway through the course.  At this point you can renegotiate criteria that you have already set for yourself at the beginning.  Be sure to use appropriate grading as fits the activity or assignment.  See the section below on handling workload for more ideas on this topic.

Rubrics For Grading Longer Papers

These are basic guidelines for grading longer papers.  Grading criteria will vary based on the kind of assignment given and the purpose of the assignment. 

A: The writer demonstrates excellent thought, organization, and style. In an A paper, the writer uses a thoughtful organizational strategy, with clearly developed paragraphs arising from a clear thesis. The ideas themselves should be engaging and show illuminating insights into the work being studied. The writer supports claims with textual evidence (not necessarily quotations). The few errors in style, diction, or mechanics do not distract the reader or inhibit comprehensibility.

B: A B paper is still quite good, but it is weaker than an A paper in some areas. The writer has good ideas that are not quite as completely developed as those of an A paper.  Or the ideas may be somewhat limited by some problems of organization and style. Or it may be well-organized and well-written but the writer offers fewer or less valuable insights than an A paper.

C: This is the grade you will generally give to a paper you would call "clearly acceptable, but not exceptional." In a C paper, the writer shows a competent understanding of the assigned topic, but the insights usually do not go beyond the obvious points that most papers make. A C can also be assigned to an inconsistent paper that shows some excellent insights but in which the writer fails to develop ideas into a unified whole.

D: A D paper has some strengths which are outweighed by the weaknesses. The writer has either occasionally good ideas inhibited by unclear writing or clear writing expressing undeveloped ideas that demonstrate a lack of engagement with the work being studied.

F: An F paper is weak either because it is poorly written throughout or because its ideas show no insight into the work being studied, or because it is a completely unacceptable paper obviously written in haste without thought or effort.

Methods for Feedback on Student Writing

There are a variety of ways to give feedback on student writing aside from the traditional grading of essays.  Here are some methods for feedback:

  • Instructors make written responses to student drafts.
  • Instructors schedule one-on-one conferences during class while students are working on an assignment that involves writing.
  • Students work in “peer-groups” in which students give structured feedback on each other’s drafts.  Then, the instructor reviews the drafts.
  • Instructor reads student journals during in-class paired or group activity and addresses common issues during lecture and discussion