The last page of all my syllabi is an essay rubric. Each student xeroxes this and attaches it to the back of each piece of work they hand in. I developed it in collaboration with my colleagues in the History Department; the idea, with accreditation coming up and grasping after quantitative data like a schopenhauerian Will, was to give us a common metric to compare our students’ performances across a range of consensus criteria. It hasn’t quite worked out like that, but I still find it a valuable tool because it boils down nicely some epistemological lessons I’m trying to teach, I can use it in classroom workshopping of paper drafts, then reinforce it in my evaluation of the final draft while also automating certain very common comments I’d otherwise have to write out for each paper.
A couple things about scoring: it’s a standard 5-point scale for ease of data handling, so 4 and 2 are possible scores while 5/3/1 establish the range of narrative translation. Also, the main purpose of the rubric is to allow comparison within categories; there is no intent to create a more comprehensive or linear valuation among the categories, or to allow the scores to ‘add up’ to a final grade. I use the rubric as a guide to a wholistic grade, weight the left more heavily than the right, and use 1s in any category as epic fails. The rubric explanation, also included in the syllabus, follows here.
There are a lot of this sort of thing out there; this one was developed through an internal process but it’s not particularly original. Please feel free to take it (click to go to .doc file), use it as you see fit, modify it at will, and/or to propose refinements minor and major. In the unlikely event you publish anything related to it we’d appreciate the courtesy of the usual citation, as addressed in column 5.