Rubric for Grading Papers


Reasons you wouldn’t pass

Reasons you would get a C-range grade

Reasons you would get a B-range grade

Reasons you would ace the assignment


No clear or emerging argument. No indication of a thesis, an opinion, or a developing idea.

Project only becomes clear in final paragraphs or is too vague to mean anything.

Discovers a strong idea and then repeats it rather than developing it.

Introduction provides a sense of the project. Employs independent thinking.

Begins with a clear sense of purpose. Uses persuasive rhetoric and imagery. Is self-reflective–has a clear voice.

Use of Text

Essay does not engage with the issues raised in the text. No connection made between your project and the texts.

No connective tissue between quotations. Misreading of author’s point.

Paper shows that you’re willing to take interpretive risks, that you’re willing to share ideas with the authors.

Is able to stand beside (not on top or inside of) other theorists.


No use of theoretical terms. No consideration of the implications of a theoretical argument.

Parrots the author’s words, using technical terms without understanding. Never challenges original assumptions.

Uses theoretical terms to advance an argument. Avoids “straw man” arguments.

Avoids false dichotomies. Uses disparate authors to question easy assumptions. Allows for complicating details and critical reflections


Incoherent use of paragraphs. No clear development of ideas.

Paragraphs are coherent but the overall structure is not developed.

Overall structure is coherent. Paragraphs flow from one to the other.

The organization is logical, fluid, and clear, and maybe even poetic.


Disorganized sentences, constant grammatical errors. No evidence of proofreading.

Enough grammatical errors to impede meaning.

Grammatical errors and awkward sentence structure are at a minimum.

No major spelling or grammatical errors. Uses sub-headings effectively.

Last modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 2:40 PM