Monday, January 18, 2010

Grading Rubric

Once upon a time (okay, until last semester) I graded in an holistic manner. This means that I read, made comments and applied a grade that represented an amalgamation of all the impressions I had of the paper. While there is nothing wrong with this approach--I'd bet most professors grade in the same way--I always ran into trouble when a student came to ask me about his or her grade.

Now, as I said, I write comments, sometimes detailed comments--at times funny or sarcastic, too--in the margins: "excellent intro" "dic." "This doesn't make sense" "sp" "Good point" "inc. sent." "if you say this here, whe say it there?" "I like this". I will also write copious comments at the end of he paper to spell out what I think is both good and what needs improvement. As a result, I don't get a whole lot of students coming in asking about why they got a certain grade, but every so often they come in.

"Hey, I got a B on this paper, but I thought I'd get at least an A-. Can you tell me what I did wrong so I can get a better grade the next time?"

I will look at their paper and read the comments I wrote, but I've read anywhere between 20 to 50 papers for any given class, so I don't always remember exactly why I write something. The fact that I grade holistically doesn't help me recall either.

Well, fortunately for me, just when I was thinking about what to do, we get a message from those above talking about how we need to spell out "learning outcomes". One step in this process is to detail exactly how we evaluate so we can articulate exactly what we expect from our students and what we see as the learning outcome from an assignment and ultimately from the course. So I set out to analyze and break down my mental process so students may gain a better idea of how I evaluate an essay, thereby allowing them the opportunity to write a better paper. The result was the concrete rubric of criteria below. You will notice that I apply a letter grade to each section which represents a percentage of your entire paper. This is, of course, a general outline of how I grade and, to a greater or lesser extent, I am still influenced by the general impressions I develop as I read. I'm only human.

Still, please consider these criteria as a check list when you write your paper. If you successfully follow them, chances are you will get the grade you want.

Grading Rubric
Structure/Style (25%):
A) Information organized in a logical and interesting sequence with balanced sections and clear transitional sentences.
B) Information organized in a logical sequence but progression is not smooth.
C) Information is poorly organized; difficult to follow.
D) Stream of consciousness approach.

Introduction→ Body [Motivation→ Argument 1 w/evidence→ Argument 2 w/evidence→ (Argument 3 w/evidence)]→ Conclusion
Idea/Knowledge (25%):
A) Demonstrates a firm understanding of the topic/subject and knowledge of its details.
B) Demonstrates an understanding of the topic/subject but manifests a few errors in the details.
C) Demonstrates a tentative understanding of the topic/subject and manifests errors in the details.
D) Demonstrates little to no understanding of the topic/subject.

Argumentation (25%):
A) Presents an argument with an original point of view, providing convincing evidence in a logical manner.
B) Presents an argument with evidence that is logical but mostly regurgitates the position and evidence of others—previous scholars or in class discussion.
C) Presents an argument based on thin or incomplete evidence.
D) Presents an argument that is wholly unconvincing—evidence is inconsistent, unrelated or illogical.
Presentation—Grammar and spelling (15%)
A) Virtually no spelling or grammatical errors
B) No more than 2 obvious errors
C) 3-5 obvious errors
D) More than 5 errors

Layout (10%)
  • Typed
  • Margins: 1”
  • Line spacing: 1½
  • Word count included
  • Long quotes: Indented
  • Paginated, page numbers☺
  • Font: Times New Roman, Arial, 12 point
  • Citations: formatted correctly (both inline and footnotes).
A) properly formatted; B) missing 1 item;
C) missing 2; D) missing 3 or more

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Semester

The semester as begun. This semester, I'm teaching J-Lit in Translation and Beginning Japanese II. I haven't taught Lit in Translation in a couple of years so I'm kinda apprehensive. I'm sure my students can tell I'm nervous. I'm also teaching Beginning Japanese for the first time in... 6 years? It's been a while so I get kinda nervous there too. It's only the first week of school and I'm already a nervous wreck! But I look forward to the semester because I just love to teach Japanese.