Grading Rubric for Close Reading Assignments

Instructor: Patrick Mooney, English Department
English 10
Summer 2015


I expect that your paper will respond specifically to the close-reading assignment and will otherwise follow the directions that you were asked to follow. You are absolutely welcome to speak with me about your project before you begin working on it, or at any stage of the research or writing process. Your paper must represent your own original work; any borrowings from anyone else's language or thought require proper academic attribution. Your paper should conform to the MLA standard for academic papers.

Always retain a copy of your paper until you have received a final grade for the quarter. Never give me the only copy of an assignment that you have put work into.

You must turn in a printed copy of your paper; I do not accept electronic copies except in emergencies. (For instance, if you need to leave town before the paper is due because of, say, the hospitalization of a family member, you may send a copy by email as a good-faith gesture, to show that you have in fact completed the assignment, but I will expect you to turn in a printed copy when you return to campus. In this particular circumstance, I may very well also be willing to grant an extension, even if it is close to the deadline.)

Paper deadlines are absolute. Everything must be turned in at the beginning of class on the due date. Being even one minute late incurs the same penalty as being a full day late. You need to make sure that you are adequately prepared to turn in your assignment when I call for it.

Remember that the syllabus says that technology problems are not normally an acceptable excuse for late work. In fact, you should remember that the only acceptable excuses for late work are genuinely serious emergencies (hospitalization, family death, natural disasters, etc.), and if you have such an emergency, you should anticipate that I will ask you for documentation. You must have your work ready to turn in, properly formatted, stapled, and assembled, at the time when the work is supposed to be ready, and at the place where you are supposed to turn the work in.

I am available after class (usually), during my office hours, and by email to answer questions that you may have about any of these requirements. I do not perform "pre-evaluations" of drafts, but would be happy to discuss specific questions, talk about outlines, or help you with issues that arise as you go through the writing process, provided that these conversations occur in my office (i.e., not by email). Though I do try to answer quick, non-complex questions by email before papers are due (subject to my contact policy on the course syllabus), please realize that I am likely to receive many emails shortly before each paper is due, and that (although I will respond as quickly as possible) it is unwise to email me at the absolute last minute and expect an immediate reply.

Specific meanings of grades

The grade that your paper receives is based on which of the following categories best describe it. A paper may receive a + or - after the letter grade to indicate where that paper falls on the relevant letter-grade spectrum.

A+ papers

In addition to displaying all of the virtues of an A paper, an A+ paper is wonderful in every imaginable way.

A-range papers

B-range papers

C-range papers

C- papers

Receiving a C- on a paper means that it just barely satisfies the absolute minimum requirements for a college-level paper.

D papers

Receiving a D on a paper means that the paper has at least one fundamental problem that keeps it from being an appropriate analysis that deals with the question at a satisfying basic level. Often, one or more of the following is true:

(If you have questions about how your paper does not meet basic standards for a piece of analytical writing, please see me! I am happy to discuss how you can better succeed at the task of analytical writing.)

F papers

Papers receiving an F are plagiarized or otherwise fundamentally and pervasively dishonest, or are a profoundly inappropriate response to the writing assignment. Note that plagiarism will definitely result in penalties beyond simply receiving an F on the paper. See the course syllabus's section on plagiarism for more information.

In conclusion

Receiving a lower-than-expected grade is not necessarily a reason to freak out. Writers of B-range papers are doing just fine. Students who write papers that receive lower grades can often improve their grades on subsequent work by correcting the problems that I note in my comments. In any case, remember that no individual writing assignment is worth all that many points during the quarter, and that scoring below what you would like to score does not irremediably injure your grade for the quarter. I would always be happy to discuss how you can better succeed at the task of writing in my office hours (and am happy to meet you outside of my office hours if they are at inconvenient times for you). Students who are having problems with grammar, structure, or other matters related to writing and its mechanics may also benefit from the assistance of Campus Learning Assistance Services, which provides tutoring in many subjects, including writing, at no charge to students.

If you believe that the grade you received is not a fair assessment of your paper and would like to dispute it, you should write me a letter explaining specific reasons why the grade I gave you is not a good match for the paper you wrote, basing your argument on the grading rubric above. Note specific discrepancies based on my comments and passages from the paper. You should turn the letter in to me, along with a copy of your paper that has my comments on it. We will then schedule an appointment to discuss your grade.

You are of course welcome to talk to me about your paper even if you do not believe that the grade is unfair. I would be more than happy to elucidate comments, go further into material that you found interesting, or discuss how future papers can better achieve an exposition of your ideas. Please feel free to come to my office or schedule an appointment with me if you would like to discuss any of these topics.