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Writing Evaluations

The Writing Program requests that faculty periodically evaluate the writing of all students. Writing Evaluations, although not part of a student’s permanent record, offer an overall appraisal of a student’s writing in a given course, separate from course grades.  Writing Evaluations are used by the Writing Program to identify students who need to develop better writing skills as well as outstanding writers who might serve as peer consultants in our Writing Center, and they allow the College to monitor the writing performance of students across the curriculum.  

In offering Writing Evaluations, faculty rank a student's writing as excellent, good, acceptable, or inadequate, based on three criteria--quality of thought, rhetorical sophistication, and mechanics. Writing Evaluations serve as an “early warning” for students struggling with writing in FYE.   If a student receives two less-than-acceptable evaluations, this is a signal that students in collaboration with advisers should pursue opportunities for further instruction.  This might include enrollment in a Writing Intensive or Writing in a Discipline course, a Writing Enhancement adjunct, or regular visits to the Writing Center.

The three criteria on which Writing Evaluations are based include:

Quality of Thought -- This category focuses on development of ideas and includes the writer's use of the following: topic focus; thesis/argument; organization and development or ideas; logic; coherence; unity; evidence/support; analysis; conclusions.

Rhetorical Sophistication -- This category focuses on style and includes the writer's use of the following: polish; flow; transitions; clarity; brevity; tone; originality; flair; word choice; voice (appropriate use of active and passive voice); integrating sources/quotes; audience analysis; placement of information; visual rhetoric (graphs and figures).

Mechanics -- This category focuses primarily on grammar and syntax; it includes the writer's use of the following: appropriate/required format; sentence structure; grammar; usage; punctuation; bibliography/citation form (when required).

The overall quality of a student’s writing in a given course is ranked on a four-point scale:

Excellent: Outstanding work. The student writes as well as the top 5% of CC students. The writer's argument or point is clear, focused, coherent. She/he establishes context, purpose, point of view. Paragraphs are logical, coherent, unified, developed, with appropriate evidence. The writer keeps related words and ideas together, defines terms, elaborates on general or abstract terms, explains essential concepts. She/he uses clear sentence structure and idiomatic English, has control over grammar and diction. There are no significant mechanical errors.

Good: Solid work. The student's writing is competent but not quite all together yet. The writer consistently has an argument or makes a point, but her/his arguments may not be as compelling as those of the excellent writer. Paragraphs develop the main idea for the most part. However, there may be occasional lapses in coherence of argument, clarity of presentation, or organization of ideas. Signs of these problems may include weak conceptual links and/or superficial transitions. The writer develops her/his point with evidence or examples, but these may lack depth or detail, or may not clearly support the main idea. The writer uses clear, fluent and generally idiomatic English but may be unsure of the connotation of some words. Sentence structure may not always reflect the logical relationships of its discrete parts. The writer generally has control over grammar and diction. There may be infrequent, minor mechanical errors or repetition of a single error.

Acceptable: Average work. The student writes well enough to communicate and will not embarrass herself/himself in the outside world. The writer has a focus for her/his writing and usually uses appropriate evidence to support her/his points. However, the main idea may be simplistic and/or the analysis underdeveloped. The writer may use few examples to develop her/his analysis or may not grasp completely the concepts she/he is discussing. Organization may be repetitious or random; individual paragraphs may not consistently develop a unified idea. The writer has adequate control of sentence structure, grammar, and diction. There may be a pattern of mechanical errors that suggest the writer needs to edit her/his work more carefully.

Inadequate: Insufficiently coherent work. The writer has trouble establishing context, purpose, or point of view. She/he may not have a clear main idea or may attempt to present too many unrelated, general ideas. Individual paragraphs are fragmented; there are few real connections between paragraphs. The writer uses virtually no evidence to support her/his ideas. Individual sentences may be short and choppy, long and incoherent, or incomplete. The writer has poor control of sentence structure, grammar, and diction. Her/his word choice is unidiomatic. Mechanical errors abound.

Tracy Santa

Tracy Santa

Director of the Writing Center
Learning Commons
Tutt Library #160