Regardless of writing ability, portfolios will receive the grade of D if, as a whole, the portfolio fails to demonstrate that the student understands how to conduct college-level research as well as how to integrate the results of such research into purposeful writing without committing plagiarism. Otherwise, D portfolios rarely have similar characteristics. The lists below present the danger signals that help predict when a portfolio does not demonstrate competence. The main key to avoiding a D is to meet the criteria for at least a C.
Content and Research
- Topics, purposes, claims, or focuses are so simplistic and obvious that they do not engage the interest of college-educated readers.
- Papers have no apparent and appropriate audiences.
- Papers have no clear purposes.
- At least one paper is clearly fictional.
- Papers lack a single focus.
- Ideas are stated, but they are not developed with details, examples, and discussions.
- Language or material from sources are consistently presented in ways that are very hard to follow.
- Unintentional, careless misuse of source material would amount to plagiarism had it been intentional.
- The portfolio shows weak research and information literacy abilities, such as the use of very few sources, little variety of sources, or little obvious effort to conduct scholarly or professional research.
- Sources do not support and may even contradict the views that the writer attributes to them.
- Openings and endings are overly general, missing, or misleading.
- Readers cannot readily see the focus of the papers.
- Paragraphs frequently seem unrelated to each other or repetitive.
- Paragraphs do not develop logically from start to finish, or they break in illogical places.
- Paragraphs often end without developing broad, general statements with evidence and reasoning.
- Transitions between and within paragraphs are weak, ineffective, or misleading.
- The papers do not establish clear patterns for readers to follow.
- Sentences often are short and choppy, long and rambling, or vague and wordy.
- Disordered sentence parts, poor phrasing, and poor word choices make reading difficult.
- Sentences often disregard the normal rules of standard written English in ways that make ideas hard to understand.
- The voice often appears inappropriate for the writer’s purpose, genre, and audience.
- Format, including any use of graphics, is extremely careless or entirely disregards the basic requirements of applicable style guides.
- Language or material from outside sources is not clearly cited.
- Documentation style is generally wrong according to the assigned style guide, often in ways that interfere with readers' abilities to find the source material and locate the referenced portions of the sources.
- Instances of misused source material show careless inattention to important requirements for quoting, paraphrasing, and citing, raising questions of possible plagiarism.
- Many errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, word choice, and usage make reading difficult, or they strongly limit the writer’s credibility.