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Grading Rubrics

Goals and objectives are measured by a performance assessment in the courses required for the Philosophy major. Specifically, student performance in writing essays, and essay exam questions, will be measured using the follwing standardized grading rubrics.

Essays and essay questions are evaluated with an eye both to the student’s mastery of the specific subject matter covered by the course, and to the student’s mastery of more general skills in philosophical thinking and writing. A higher standard of thinking and writing is required for upper-division than for lower-division courses. In logic courses, students’ competence in formal logic is evaluated through assessment of their performance in weekly problem sets and examinations.

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Why use rubrics?

Has a student ever said to you regarding an assignment, “But, I didn’t know what you wanted!” or “Why did her paper get an ‘A’ and mine a ‘C?’” Students must understand the goals we expect them to achieve in course assignments, and importantly, the criteria we use to determine how well they have achieved those goals.

Rubrics provide a readily accessible way of communicating and developing our goals with students and the criteria we use to discern how well students have reached them.

Our department uses two rubrics, displayed on the two charts below:

  • Grading Rubric for Writing Assignments
  • Grading Rubric for Essay and Short Answer Exam Questions, Quizzes, and Homework Assignments

What is a rubric?

Rubrics (or scoring tools) are a way of describing evaluation criteria or grading standards based on the expected outcomes and performances of students. Each rubric consists of a set of scoring criteria and point values associated with these criteria.

In most rubrics the criteria are grouped into categories so the instructor and the student can discriminate among the categories by level of performance. In classroom use, the rubric provides a concrete standard against which student performance may be compared.

Assessment Purposes

·      To improve the reliability of scoring written assignments and oral presentations.

·      To convey goals and performance expectations of students in an unambiguous way.

·      To convey grading standards or point values and relate them to performance goals.

·      To engage students in critical evaluation of their own performance.

Grading Rubric for Writing Assignments

 

Fails Completely

Unsatisfactory

Needs Improvement

Competent

Exemplary

Thesis

No identifiable thesis or thesis shows lack of effort or comprehension of assignment.

Difficult to identify, inconsistently maintained, or provides little around which to structure paper.

Unclear, buried, poorly articulated, lacking in insight and originality.

Promising, but may be unclear or lacking insight or originality.

Easily identifiable, interesting, plausible, novel, sophisticated, insightful, clear.

Structure and style

No evident structure or organization. No transitions between major points.

Unclear, unfocused, disorganized, lacking in unity, transitions abrupt or confusing, context unclear.

Generally unclear, unfocused, often wanders or jumps around. Few or weak transitions. Does not provide sufficient information, explanation, and context for readers.

Generally clear and appropriate, though may wander occasionally. May have some unclear transitions or lack of coherence. Does not fully appreciate reader’s need for information, explanation, and context.

Evident, understandable, appropriate for thesis. Essay is focused and unified. Words chosen effectively. Excellent transitions between points. Anticipates reader’s need for information, explanation, and context.

Use of sources (when applicable)

No attempt made to incorporate information from primary and secondary sources.

Very little information from sources. Poor handling of sources.

Moderate amount of source information incorporated. Some key points supported by sources. Quotations may be poorly integrated into paragraphs. Some possible problems with source citations.

Draws upon sources to support most points. Some evidence may not support thesis or may appear where inappropriate. Quotations integrated well into paragraphs. Sources cited correctly.

Draws upon primary and secondary source information in useful and illuminating ways to support key points. Excellent integration of quoted material into paragraphs. Sources cited correctly.

Logic and argumentation

No effort made to construct a logical argument. Failure to support thesis.

Little attempt to offer support for key claims or to relate evidence to thesis. Reasons offered may be irrelevant. Little to no effort to address alternative views.

Arguments of poor quality. Weak, undeveloped reasons offered in support of key claims. Counter-arguments mentioned without rebuttal.

Argument is clear and usually flows logically and makes sense. Some counter-arguments acknowledged, though perhaps not addressed fully.

Arguments are identifiable, reasonable, and sound. Clear reasons are offered in support of key claims. Author anticipates and successfully grapples with counter-arguments.

Mechanics

Difficult to understand because of significant problems with sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Several problems with sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Some problems with sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling strong despite occasional lapses.

Correct sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Grading Rubric for Essay and Short Answer Exam Questions, Quizzes, and Homework Assignments

Unsatisfactory

Competent

Exemplary

Fails to address the question or demonstrates an inadequate or partial grasp of the question

Demonstrates an adequate understanding of the question

Demonstrates an accurate and complete understanding of the question

Answer lacks clarity, may be confused, omit significant facts or is otherwise incomplete

Answer displays basic knowledge of the issue

Answer displays clarity of thought, depth of reflection, and insight

Does not incorporate pertinent information from lectures or assigned readings

Incorporates some information from lectures and assigned readings but not in an overly thorough manner

Incorporates pertinent details from lectures and assigned readings, providing evidence for key claims when needed

Substantially digresses from the central issue

Usually maintains focus but may occasionally digress from the central issue

Maintains focus, avoids being sidetracked

Significant problems with clarity, concision, and organization, making the information presented difficult to comprehend

Presents information fairly clearly and concisely, may have minor organization problems

Presents answer clearly and concisely, in an organized manner

May merely restate the question and offer an irrelevant or undeveloped response

Does more than merely restate the question and offer a brief response

Does much more than merely restate the question and offer a brief response

May contain enough distracting grammar, spelling, etc. errors to make it substantially incomprehensible

Uses acceptable style and grammar (contains one or a few errors)

Uses elements of style and grammar well