Rubrics For Checking An Essay

What should I include?

When students write essays, ESL teachers generally look for some common elements. The essay should have good grammar and show the right level of vocabulary. It should be organized, and the content should be appropriate and effective. Teachers also look at the overall effectiveness of the piece. When evaluating specific writing samples, you may also want to include other criteria for the essay based on material you have covered in class. You may choose to grade on the type of essay they have written and whether your students have followed the specific direction you gave. You may want to evaluate their use of information and whether they correctly presented the content material you taught. When you write your own rubric, you can evaluate anything you think is important when it comes to your students’ writing abilities. For our example, we will use grammar, organization and overall effect to create a rubric.

What is an A?

Using the criteria we selected (grammar, organization and overall effect) we will write a rubric to evaluate students’ essays. The most straightforward evaluation uses a four-point scale for each of the criteria. Taking the criteria one at a time, articulate what your expectations are for an A paper, a B paper and so on. Taking grammar as an example, an A paper would be free of most grammatical errors appropriate for the student’s language learning level. A B paper would have some mistakes but use generally good grammar. A C paper would show frequent grammatical errors. A D paper would show that the student did not have the grammatical knowledge appropriate for his language learning level. Taking these definitions, we now put them into the rubric.

GrammarFree of most grammatical errorsSome grammatical mistakes but generally shows successful grammar usageFrequent grammatical errorsAppropriate grammatical knowledge not displayed for current language level
Organization    
Overall Effect    

The next step is to take each of the other criteria and define success for each of those, assigning a value to A, B, C and D papers. Those definitions then go into the rubric in the appropriate locations to complete the chart.

GrammarFree of most grammatical errorsSome grammatical mistakes but generally shows successful grammar usageFrequent grammatical errorsAppropriate grammatical knowledge not displayed for current language level
OrganizationEssay shows clear organization with appropriate transitionsEssay shows good organization but may lack appropriate transitionsEssay lacks clear organization and appropriate transitionsEssay is disorganized and confusing
Overall EffectA strong overall effect with clear communication and supportA good overall effect with some support and adequate clarityEssay struggles overall and does not give a coherent messageEssay has a poor overall effect and does not fulfill assignment

Each of the criteria will score points for the essay. The descriptions in the first column are each worth 4 points, the second column 3 points, the third 2 points and the fourth 1 point.

What is the grading process?

Now that your criteria are defined, grading the essay is easy. When grading a student essay with a rubric, it is best to read through the essay once before evaluating for grades. Then reading through the piece a second time, determine where on the scale the writing sample falls for each of the criteria. If the student shows excellent grammar, good organization and a good overall effect, he would score a total of ten points. Divide that by the total criteria, three in this case, and he finishes with a 3.33. which on a four-point scale is a B+. If you use five criteria to evaluate your essays, divide the total points scored by five to determine the student’s grade.

SCORING RUBRIC FOR WRITTEN ESSAYS IN UPPER-LEVEL FL COURSES

SCORE CRITERIA

CONTENT:

37-40

Excellent to very good: knowledgeable; substantive, thorough development of the thesis, including appropriate examples; quotations are well chosen to support the argument; quotations are well integrated and presented correctly, good analysis and synthesis of the material; literary devices noted and analyzed, good use of comparison and contrast, critical inquiry and interpretation. Interpretation is imaginative and nuanced.

32-36

Good to average: some knowledge of the subject; adequate range of analysis and synthesis; limited thematic development and use of examples; mostly relevant to the topic, but lacks detail in critical interpretation of the material; quotations support the argument somewhat; quotations are adequately integrated, but may be too long or short. Interpretation shows some originality.

27-31

Fair to poor: limited knowledge of the subject; minimal substance, analysis and synthesis; poor thematic development, use of examples and critical interpretation of the material; inadequate use of quotations. Interpretation is predictable and/or unfocused.

23-26

Very poor: shows little or no knowledge of the subject; lacking analysis or synthesis of the material and lacking good examples; inadequate quantity; not relevant, or not enough to rate. Interpretation is overly predictable.

ORGANIZATION AND FORMAT:

27-30

Excellent to very good: clear statement of ideas; title that orients the reader to the thesis; clear organization (beginning, middle, and end) and smooth transitions; introduction leads reader into topic; conclusion effectively summarizes main findings and follows logically from the analysis presented, logical and cohesive sequencing both between and within paragraphs; quotations/footnotes properly cited; length, spacing, fonts, margins, numbered pages all carefully adhered to.

22-26

Good to average: main ideas clear but loosely organized or connected; title pertinent to the thesis; sequencing logical but incomplete; bibliographical material and formatting adequate.

17-21

Fair to poor: ideas not well connected; title too general; poor organization and transitions; logical sequencing and development lacking; formatting inadequate.

13-16

Very poor: ideas not communicated; no title; organization, sequencing and transitions lacking, or not enough to rate, formatting lacking.


GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY, AND FLUENCY:

18-20

Excellent to very good: fluent expression; accurate use of relatively complex structures; very few grammatical errors. Complex range of vocabulary; accurate word/idiom choice; mastery of word forms and expressions; appropriate level of usage.

14-17

Good to average: adequate fluency; simple constructions used effectively; some problems in use of complex constructions; some grammar and spelling errors.

10-13

Fair to poor: low fluency; significant mistakes in the use of complex constructions; frequent grammar and spelling errors, lack of accuracy interferes with meaning.

7-9

Very poor: lacks fluency; no mastery of simple sentence construction; text dominated by errors; does not communicate meaning, or not enough to rate.


SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS:

8-10

Excellent to very good: all supporting documents required are attached and appropriately labeled: 1) a typed first draft; 2) peer review and evidence that you have addressed these comments , 3) the checklist/reflective statement, and 4) final draft reflecting all previous work.

6-7

Good to average: checklist/reflective statement missing.

3-5

Fair to poor: Two of the supporting documents missing.

1-2

Very poor: Three of the supporting documents missing.

Late submissions will be penalized by 10 points/day, if an extension is not suggested or approved ahead of time by professor.

REMINDER TO STUDENTS:
ALL WORK SUBMITTED MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A SIGNED NC STATE ACADEMIC CODE OF STUDENT CONDUCT HONOR PLEDGE. ANY VIOLATION OF THE PLEDGE WILL RESULT IN A FAILING GRADE FOR THE PAPER.


Adapted from: Hedgcock and Lefkowitz,“Collaborative Oral/Aural Revision in Foreign Language Writing Instruction”, Journal of Second Language Writing 1(3):255-76, 1992, cited in Scott, Rethinking Foreign LanguageWriting, 1995, p. 116.

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