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Research Papers Grading Criterion

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Grading Criteria

A note on the evaluation process in this course: Each piece of written work, from an essay on an exam to a formal paper, starts as a "0" and rises to one of the levels listed below based on the quality of its ideas, development, and writing. Thus your writing does not start from an "A" and "lose points" based on certain errors; instead, grading starts from a baseline and points are added based on the quality of your work.

Think of the grading scheme as you would think of a game or a job. You don't start with a perfect score (or a high salary) and lose points by making errors; rather, you start from a baseline and gain points based on the quality of your skills as demonstrated by your performance. The same is true here.

I will use abbreviations as references to grammatical principles on your corrected papers. The abbreviations and accompanying explanations are available on the "Key to Comments" document here: http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/keyto.htm.

  • A (Excellent)
    • Ideas and analysis. Greatly exceeds expectations and develops in a consistently excellent manner. Readers will learn something from this piece of writing. Ideas are original or especially insightful for the level of the class (i.e., an excellent paper in a 200-level course does not need to demonstrate the same level of originality and depth as an excellent paper in a 300- or 400-level course).
    • Organization. Organizational plan is clear, as is the thesis and purpose of the piece. Thesis is original and interesting.
    • Development and support. Develops its points effectively, logically, and in an original fashion. Assertions are supported by evidence. Paragraphs are unified, coherent, and complete.
    • Style. Sentences are fluent, graceful, and a pleasure to read. They are enerally free from errors, although there may be a minor error in the piece. "A" papers will have no or at most one of the following: comma splices, fragments, fused sentences, tense and agreement errors, or other major grammatical problems.
    • Mechanics (spelling, usage, and punctuation such as commas, possessive apostrophes, and and so on). Papers will be free or almost entirely free from mechanical errors.
    • Audience. Has a clear understanding of audience as demonstrated by the paper's use of tone and an appropriate level of diction.
  • B (Good)
    • Ideas and analysis. Exceeds expectations and develops in a good but perhaps predictable fashion. Paper will cover the most logical points about a piece of writing but may not provide as much new analysis. Ideas may be good but perhaps not as insightful or well developed as those for work in the "A" range.
    • Organization. Organization and thesis are discernable but could be clearer. Thesis is solid but less innovative than in an exceptional paper. Some transitions may be missing.
    • Development and support. Includes a thesis idea that is generally supported by evidence, although some unsupported generalizations may occur. Some paragraphs may lack unity or support.
    • Style. Demonstrates correct sentence construction for the most part, although some sentences may be awkward or unclear. Papers will generally have few (1-2) or no comma splices, fragments, fused sentences, tense and agreement errors, or other major grammatical problems. Minor errors in grammar may occur.
    • Mechanics. One or two instances of an incorrect use of words, spelling errors, or punctuation errors such as missing possessive apostrophes may occur
    • Audience. Clear sense of individual voice and awareness of audience expectations. Level of diction may be uneven or somewhat inappropriate for the assignment.
  • C (Acceptable)
    • Ideas and analysis. Meets expectations but does not go beyond them. May respond to the assignment in a satisfactory but predictable or superficial way. May have more plot summary than analysis.
    • Organization. Exhibits generally logical organization but may not provide a clear connection to the thesis.
    • Development and support. Development may consist of obvious generalizations that only tell readers what they already know or lack support from the text. Support may be limited or lacking.
    • Style. May demonstrate little sentence variety. Grammatical errors such as comma splices, fragments, agreement errors, vague or awkward phrasing may obscure the meaning of an otherwise good paper.
    • Mechanics. May contain odd word choices, consistent errors in punctuation, or problems with usage.
    • Audience. Voice and diction may be significantly inconsistent with audience expectations or the requirements of the assignment.
  • D (Deficient)
      • Ideas and analysis. Limited ideas and cursory development; does not meet expectations or the terms of the assignment on one or more dimensions.
      • Organization.Focus may be unclear or the essay may lack an arguable thesis. May lack adequate organization or sufficient support for its argument. Paragraphs may be scantily developed.
      • Development and support. Relies on generalizations rather than support. Paragraphs may lack unity, coherence, and completeness.
      • Style. Contains many errors in sentence construction, including comma splices, fragments, fused sentences, agreement problems, and awkward sentences. Some parts may be difficult to read and interpret.
      • Mechanics. May demonstrate significant deficiencies in punctuation, word choice, and spelling.
      • Audience.Paper may demonstrate a consistently insufficient awareness of audience.
  • F (Unacceptable)
    • Ideas and analysis. Fails to meet expectations for ideas and analysis.May include too much plot summary or so many quotations that analysis is missing.
    • Organization. Focus many be diffuse or unclear. Sentences and paragraphs do not follow a logical order.
    • Development and support. Thesis may be missing.Generalizations may be used in place of analysis. Insufficient development for the requirements of the assignment.
    • Style. Serious errors such as comma splices, fragments, fused sentences, and agreement problems obscure meaning and make this paper inconsistent with college-level writing standards. A paper at this level may be difficult, frustrating, or confusing to read.
    • Mechanics. Contains numerous errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
    • Audience.Serious problems with tone, diction, and sense of audience.
    • A paper will receive an "F" if it is plagiarized in whole or in part.
  • Grade Cutoffsfor Assignments

    The total number of points varies by assignment. The chart below shows the approximate letter grade for points earned in each assignment.

    WSU final grade submission permits only solid, plus, and minus grades (e.g., C, C+, or C-) to be entered into zzusis.
    WSU final grade submission has no "A+" grade, so the highest paper grade will be "A" (95) in compliance with WSU standards. There is no "D-" grade in zzusis, so a final average of 60-62 = D for the same reason.

    • Total Points10015202530355075125150500If your final % isYour final grade would be . . .
      A 9314182328334770116140465 93 or aboveA
      A-901318232732456711313545090-92 A-
    *Grading standards adapted from those articulated in English 309, Spring 2011.























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    PowerPoint Presentations


    1.    The PowerPoint presentations will be graded on the degree of "professionalism" they display.  How well, for example, would a presentation be received by a professional audience of social scientists?  How clear is the presentation?  How well organized is it, and how clearly are the charts and illustrations?  Does the presentation show a concern for accuracy and clarity?  Does the presentation show a concern for detail?  To What degree do the presenters provide an intelligent and well-informed presentation of the issue under consideration? 


    2.    The PowerPoint presentations will also be graded on the degree of creativity they display.  Is the information presented in a unique and interesting way without compromising the professionalism of the presentation?  Does the presentation show that the presenters went to great lengths to provide interesting and appropriate illustrations?  Did the presenters create their own illustrations and, if so, were they effective?  Did the slides present the information in a way that was both informative and interesting to view?


    3.    How well rehearsed was the presentation.  Did the presentation flow smoothly, or were there numerous gaps in the presentation as the presenters tried to figure out what came next?  Was the dialogue clearly written and clearly presented, or did it seem rather poorly thought out?  How well spoken were the presentations?  Was each presenter easy to understand, or were the presenters difficult to hear or understand?  Was the overall narration easy or difficult to follow?




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