Grading criteria for a reflective essay (C. Yarnoff 2009)

Contributor: C. Yarnoff, Writing Program,
Posted: 2009

Comments: I distribute this list of grading criteria as students are revising their first assignment, a reflective essay.  The handout is intended both to inform students of what I will be looking for in assessing their revisions and to reinforce the general suggestions I gave them in our conference about their first drafts. 

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Grading Criteria for a Reflective Essay

An “A” paper:

•    Has a well-focused main idea that is developed throughout the essay.

•    Is logically organized so that readers follow the development of the main idea easily.

•    Clearly explains the underlying premise and key points.

•    Addresses major questions and counter-arguments that readers are likely to raise.

•    Has well-focused paragraphs with clear topic sentences.

•    Offers relevant quotes and paraphrases to support main points.  Accurate source citations are provided.

•    Has the relatively informal, personal style of a reflective essay.

•    Has an introduction that engages the audience and establishes the paper’s focus.

•    Has a conclusion that provokes readers to keep thinking about the main idea.

•    Has sentences that are concise, direct, appropriately varied in structure, and mechanically correct.

A “B” paper has many of the same qualities as the “A” paper but one or more of the following problems:

•    A key question or counter-argument that is not answered in sufficient detail.

•    Insufficient support in a paragraph or two.

•    Wordiness in several sentences.

A “C” paper has many of the same qualities as the “B” paper but one or more of the following problems:

•    Several paragraphs have insufficient support and explanation.

•    Introduction does not clearly establish the paper’s focus.

•    Conclusion does not provoke readers to keep thinking about the main idea.

•    A large number of sentences are wordy. 

A “D” paper has some of the following problems:

•    Organization is difficult to follow.

•    Paragraphs lack focus.

•    Audience questions and counter-arguments are not addressed.

•    There is minimal support and explanation.

•    Style is inconsistent.

•    There are many wordy, grammatically incorrect sentences.

•    There are many typographical errors.

An “F” paper fails to meet the basic requirements of the assignment.  It has some or all of the following problems:

•    Lacks a clear main point.

•    Has no apparent organization.

•    Has no support.