[ AL210 Home ]|[ Student Pages ]

Grading Criteria


The College of Arts & Letters' Department of Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures has established the following principles for grading written work:

4.0 The student's writing was consistently superior and expressed independent thought with grace, clarity, and force. The papers were organized well, their purpose clear, and their ideas supported with pertinent details. Words were used with precision. and suited to the purposes of the assignments. Papers were free from mechanical errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

3.0 The student's writing was above average in thought and expression, demonstrating both understanding and control of the elements of sound essay writing, as well as some individuality of style; however, it was not consistently superior in depth and originality of thought, effectiveness of development, and freshness and variety of expression.

2.0 The student's writing was acceptable as college writing, but lacked an original, significant purpose or point of view. Typically written work was characterized by inadequate support for generalizations, pedestrian style, trite expression, reliance on uninteresting details, or errors in mechanics.

1.0 The students writing met minimum standards, but is insufficient for predicting success in upper-level college courses requiring writing. Written work was often marred by confused purpose, lack of organization. repetition of ideas, imprecise use of words, and frequent errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Frequently the writer has misunderstood the assignment and therefore misses the target.

0.0 The student's writing did not meet the minimum standards of college writing. Such a grade on one paper does not mean the student is doomed to fail the course. It does mean that performance on the particular assignment is markedly below college standards and that prompt improvement needs to be made. Since understanding these weaknesses is the first step toward eliminating them, the writer should check carefully to see what is wrong.

The most common technical errors resulting in lower grades include comma splices, sentence fragments, improper apostrophe use, noun-pronoun disagreement, noun-verb disagreement, and excessive use of passive voice. Papers are also typically hurt by the lack of a clear central argument, failure to adequately support generalizations, and faulty transitions between paragraphs.


Plagiarism. Students should bear in mind that plagiarism, the taking or passing as one's own idea the writings of another, is dishonest and undermines an important aim of education: the responsible use of recorded knowledge.

Plagiarism is present when a writer:

1. Copies verbatim from another author without quotation marks and a citation, or paraphrases from an author without naming the source in the text of the paper. Sources always need to be listed in the bibliography or reference list.

2. Turns in a paper which has been wholly or partially written by someone else.

Plagiarism in any form is grounds for a failing grade for the assignment in question and/or the entire course. These actions are reported to the student's major department.