Grading Criteria

COVID-19 Fall 2020 Update

To accommodate the challenges of COVID-19 and the various delivery methods for our courses, the Department of Writing has made changes in how your final first-year writing portfolio will be assessed during the Fall 2020 semester.


We will still follow the portfolio grading model we have used in the past that is described in The Guide to First-Year Writing at Grand Valley State University. Your instructor, as well as a group of other instructors, will read and evaluate your portfolio and come to agreement about your final portfolio grade. However, you should expect two changes to grading in WRT 150 and WRT 130:

 

Changes to Final Course Grade Calculation

During the Fall 2020 semester, your final portfolio will be worth 80% of your final course grade. The other 20% of your final course grade will be determined by your work throughout the semester, which we’re calling your Process/Participation grade. These smaller assignments, which may include in-class activities, short writing assignments, or other lessons designed to prepare you to complete the final portfolio, will be outlined by your professor in the course syllabus. Please review this grading information carefully, and be sure to ask your instructor if you have any questions about how your final grade will be calculated.

 

Changes to Grading Characteristics

We have streamlined the grading characteristics we will use to evaluate final first-year writing portfolios this semester. We know that this will be a challenging term with the potential for disruptions related to the pandemic, so these revised grading characteristics, which are different from what is printed in your course textbook, are designed to help you make decisions about your writing efficiently and effectively.

 

Throughout the semester, you should expect class conversations or activities that use the revised grading characteristics to evaluate student writing, including student writing from previous semesters and samples generated by you and your classmates. These activities are important, because they help you understand how your final portfolio will be evaluated. If you have any questions about how your final portfolio will be assessed using these grading characteristics, please ask your instructor for clarification.


 

Streamlined Grading Characteristics

Students should consult this website for the most current copy of the rubric.

Characteristics of A Portfolios

Content and Research

  • The writer has a clear, challenging purpose for each project in the portfolio and maintains a clear focus throughout each project.
  • The writer consistently engages the interest of college-level readers from beginning to end by developing ideas with meaningful, relevant, and interesting discussion, details, and examples, including graphics when useful.
  • The writer integrates credible sources into paragraphs thoughtfully and accurately. The writer demonstrates a clear understanding of what the sources mean and how they advance the purpose of the project.

Organization

  • The writer composes paragraphs that are purposefully organized, substantially developed, and supported with evidence, examples, and reasoning.
  • The writer leads readers through paragraphs/content in a logical order, using transitions to show connections between ideas.
  • The writer composes introductions and conclusions that advance the purpose of the project, remain focused on the topic, and engage the reader.

Style

  • The writer uses sentences that are clear, logical, and easily understood by college-level readers.
  • The writer chooses a variety of language and sentence structures that are appropriate to the purpose, genre, and intended audience of each project.

Mechanics

  • The writer carefully cites outside sources following a specific citation format so that readers can easily identify the sources that have been quoted or paraphrased.
  • The writer’s spelling, grammar, and punctuation do not interfere with readers’ comprehension or understanding.

Characteristics of B Portfolios

Content and Research

  • The writer has a clear purpose for each project in the portfolio and maintains a clear focus throughout most of each project.
  • The writer engages the interest of college-level readers through most of each project by developing ideas with discussion, details, and examples, including graphics when useful.
  • The writer integrates credible sources into paragraphs accurately. The writer demonstrates an understanding of what the sources mean and most sources advance the purpose of the project.

Organization

  • The writer composes paragraphs that are organized, developed, and supported with evidence, examples, and reasoning.
  • The writer leads readers through most paragraphs in a logical order, using transitions to show connections between ideas.
  • The writer composes introductions and conclusions that are related to the purpose of the projects, remain focused on the topics, and usually engage the reader.

Style

  • The writer uses sentences that are clear and understood by college-level readers.
  • Most of the time, the writer uses language and sentence structures that are appropriate to the purpose, genre, and intended audience of each project.

Mechanics

  • The writer cites outside sources following a specific citation format so that readers can identify the sources that have been quoted or paraphrased.
  • The writer’s spelling, grammar, and punctuation usually do not interfere with readers’ comprehension or understanding.

Characteristics of C Portfolios

Content and Research

  • The writer has a purpose for each project in the portfolio, though they might digress or lose focus.
  • The writer makes an attempt to engage the interest of college-level readers, but discussion, details, and examples chosen by the writer may not be effective.
  • The writer makes an attempt to integrate credible sources into paragraphs, though many sources aren’t cited accurately. It may not be clear if the writer understands what the sources mean or how the sources advance the purpose of the project.

Organization

  • The writer makes an attempt to compose paragraphs that are organized and developed, though the writer may not provide sufficient evidence, examples, and reasons.
  • The writer makes an attempt to organize paragraphs in a logical order, but paragraphs may seem disconnected or lack sufficient transitions.
  • The writer includes an introduction and conclusion, though they may be unrelated to the purpose, digress from the topic, or not fully engage the reader.

Style

  • The writer uses some sentences that are unclear or difficult to understand for college-level readers.
  • The writer uses little variety in language and sentence structure, and some sentences may not be appropriate to the purpose, genre, and intended audience of each project.

Mechanics

  • The writer makes an attempt to cite outside sources following a citation format so that readers can identify the sources that have been quoted or paraphrased, but there are multiple errors that may confuse readers.
  • The writer’s spelling, grammar, and punctuation occasionally interferes with readers’ comprehension or understanding.

D Portfolios

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

  • The writer does not have a clear purpose for each project in the portfolio and the projects lose focus.
  • The writer does not engage college-level readers because the projects are simplistic or confusing, and discussion, details, and examples chosen by the writer do not support the writer’s purpose.
  • The writer makes a limited attempt to integrate credible sources into paragraphs, but does not do so accurately or consistently. It is not clear that the writer understands what the sources mean or how the sources advance the purpose of the project.

Organization

  • The writer’s paragraphs are not clearly organized or sufficiently developed with evidence, examples and reasons.
  • The writer does not organize paragraphs in a logical order, and paragraphs are disconnected and/or lack transitions.
  • The writer does not include an introduction or conclusion, or if included, they lack purpose, focus, or an attempt to engage the audience.

Style

  • The writer uses many sentences that are unclear or difficult to understand for college-level readers.
  • The writer does not use variety in language and sentence structure, and sentences are not appropriate to the purpose, genre, and intended audience of each project.

Mechanics

  • The writer does not follow a citation format so that readers can identify the sources that have been quoted or paraphrased.
  • The writer’s spelling, grammar, and punctuation interferes with readers’ comprehension or understanding.

F Grades

The grade of F in first-year writing is reserved for the following circumstances:

  • The student did not turn in a portfolio by the last day of class (or the due date set by the instructor’s syllabus, if the instructor chooses another due date).
  • The portfolio did not have three papers in it that qualified for the portfolio under the course textbook and the instructor’s syllabus.
  • The student violated course polices set by this course textbook or the instructor’s syllabus, if the information made clear that the violation would result in a grade of F.
  • The student violated other policies of Grand Valley State University that clearly state that the violation could result in a grade of F.
  • The student clearly committed plagiarism, as described by Grand Valley’s Student Code, the course textbook, and the instructor’s syllabus.