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Assignment Assessment Criteria


Richard Ascough

229 Theological Hall
School of Religion

Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6

(613) 533-6000 x78066

fax: (613) 533-6879

rsa@queensu.ca

http://
post.queensu.ca/~rsa



When I grade papers I strive to assess whether a student has presented ideas in a way that reflects integration of course material and critical thinking skills. I give grades not according to competition among students (who is "the best") but according to my expectations for a particular assignment relative to the material covered in class up to that point.

When reading papers, I will be asking myself a number of key questions around demonstration of critical thinking skills: “Is the writing interesting? Does it show a mind actively engaged with a problem? Does it bring something new to readers? Does it make an argument?” (Bean 2001:3-4).

Critical thinking in the study of religion “includes analysis of the cultural, historical, and literary contexts of religious practices, beliefs, and texts; the articulation of underlying assumptions; the use of evidence and logic in shaping arguments; open-mindedness toward other points of view; analytic distance from one’s own biography and traditions; and respect for others’ positions” (Walvoord 2008a: 4).

It is very important to note that students do not "lose" points from a submitted assignment. An unread assignment always has the value of zero. When we read the assignment we give it points; we do not deduct points from some artificially high grade. Students should therefore not wonder why they "lost" points or grades on an assignment. There is nothing to lose. Rather, the question should be framed in terms of how one might have gained more points; what more might have been done to raise the grade. Put another way: just because a paper is submitted it doesn’t start off as perfect and then have points deducted; it goes the other way around.


Evaluation of Content


Wow!

A+

4.3

90-100

Distinguished

Assignment is of sufficient substance and style to be submitted to a refereed journal for publication based on the critical thinking evidenced.

Exceeds expectations for this assignment for students at the graduate or undergraduate level.

A

4.0

85-89

Outstanding

Superior understanding of the subject matter.  Evidence of original thinking and an extensive knowledge base.  Careful, concise, critical analysis with a clear and well argued hypothesis based on the material.  Shows a capacity to analyze, synthesise, and evaluate material.  Shows a grasp of all the scholarly issues involved. Shows evidence of learning being extended beyond the initial learning situation. Clear thesis and conclusion. Well-researched and documented. Stylistically flawless.

A-

3.7

80-84

Excellent

Superior understanding of the subject matter.  A careful analysis with some precision and attention to the details of the material.  Shows some critical capacity and analytic ability and some original thinking. Needs a bit of fine-tuning of the details. Clear thesis and conclusion. Good research and documentation. Stylistically flawless.

Meets expectations for this assignment for students at the graduate or undergraduate level.

B+

3.3

77-79

Accomplished

Solid understanding of the subject matter.  Good analysis and some critical reasoning.  Reasonable understanding of relevant issues and familiarity with the material. Demonstrates a solid understanding of the relationship or connections among the basic concepts. Needs to be more concise or precise in details and more careful in forming arguments. Stylistically sound.

B

3.0

73-76

Good

Generally accurate account of the subject matter with acceptable analysis and some critical reasoning.  Some interaction with relevant material. Demonstrates some understanding of the relationship or connection among the basic concepts.  Needs more precision and attention to details and greater precision in the use of arguments. Some careless stylistic errors.

B-

2.7

70-72

Fine

Generally accurate description of the subject matter and an adequate grasp of the critical issues and ideas involved.  Demonstrates rudimentary understanding of the relationship or connection among the basic concepts. Needs more attention to detail and better use of arguments. Some careless stylistic errors.

Below expectations for this assignment for students at the graduate or undergraduate level.

C+

2.3

67-69

Developing

Acceptable treatment of the subject matter.  Demonstrates an understanding of the basic facts, vocabulary, details, and elemental concepts. Shows an ability to deal with simple issues arising out of the material.  Needs to explore the subject matter more fully and formulate ideas more clearly. Closer attention should be given to stylistic elements including sentence structure and paragraph organization.

C

2.0

63-66

Adequate

Generally acceptable treatment of the subject matter and issues. Demonstrates an awareness of the basic facts, vocabulary, details, and elemental concepts. Impressionistic or vague at points.  Shows that the learning experience was profitable.  Lacks clarity in formulating the issues and shows little or no evidence of critical reflection on the issues or data. Closer attention should be given to grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

C-

1.7

60-62

D+

1.3

57-59

Marginal

Adequate understanding and treatment of the data and issues, but imprecise, impressionistic or vague. Lacks clarity in expressing the issues and shows no evidence of critical reflection on the issues or data. Major problems related to issues of style.

D

1.0

53-56

D-

0.7

50-52

Ouch!

F

 

0-50

Inadequate

Sloppy, imprecise, or careless discussion of the material with little or no evidence of critical reflection.


Overall Presentation


 

Outstanding              Excellent

Accomplished     Good      Fine

Developing                  Adequate

Marginal                 Inadequate

Argument

Clarity

A clear and well argued hypothesis based on the material

Draws on the primary material as illustration for the thesis.

Presents a basic understanding but needs a more full exploration.

Sloppy, imprecise or careless discussion of the material.

Thesis

Thesis is clearly articulated within the opening paragraphs.

Thesis is present but not articulated clearly; must be intuited or occurs late in the essay.

“Thesis” statement is a summary of the approach but does not frame the argument.

No thesis statement and/or no clearly discernable overarching question or concern.

Conclusion

Reiterates thesis and briefly summarizes the arguments.

Reiterates thesis but does not link it to arguments made.

Closes the essay but does not link it to the thesis or arguments.

No conclusion present.

Ideas

Knowledge

Primary material is synthesized clearly and concisely, organized logically, and integrated well.

Primary material is summarized but needs synthesis.

Primary material is presented but not summarized nor organized in any way.

No clear summary of the primary material is provided.

Understanding

Uses old ideas to construct new meaning; generalizes from given facts and relates knowledge from several areas to draw conclusions.

Reiterates general ideas and shows how they relate to the topic at hand; the ideas are not necessarily used to advance an argument

Mostly descriptive, summarizing the material but not showing its relevance to a central thesis topic or a sustained argument.

Lacks clarity in expressing ideas. Arguments are based on faulty logic, subjective opinions, or vague notions.

Connections

Analysis

Demonstrates careful, concise, critical analysis of the primary and secondary material. Shows a grasp of the issues involved and recognizes patterns. Understands and dialogues with counter positions.

Demonstrates some analysis and critical reasoning.  Includes appropriate references to other positions but does not interact much with them.

Demonstrates an understanding of the basic facts, vocabulary, details, and elemental concepts. Shows an ability to deal with simple issues arising out of the material

Treatment of data and issues is imprecise, impressionistic, or vague and has no evidence of critical reflection or understanding.

Application

Uses the ideas to solve complex problems or complete tasks. New discoveries are made or a new way of interpreting, relating, or manipulating the material is explored.

Uses the ideas to solve problems or complete tasks in a good albeit sometimes simplistic way.

Shows an understanding of how the ideas could be used solve problems or complete tasks, but struggles to articulate how to do so.

No connections are made among concepts and ideas raised in the essay.

Extensions

Evaluation

Draws conclusions based on the use of the critical thinking skills and the available evidence. 

Measures the strength of evidence and critiques other approaches to defend a conclusion.

Compares and contrasts competing arguments and draws preliminary conclusions.

Provides no evaluation of the evidence and no assessment of argumentation.

Generation

Evidence of original thinking and the formulation of a hypothesis that accounts for evidence synthesized.

Demonstrates a good understanding of the relationship or connection among the concepts discussed. 

Demonstrates a basic understanding of the relationship or connection among the basic concepts

Reiterates some rudimentary ideas from the material but does not integrate it into an argument.

Stylistic Elements (NB: content elements are weighted more heavily than stylistic elements)

Structure & Organization

Clear structure with proper use of subtitles where necessary.

Generally clear structure that needs some clarification in parts.

Loose structure based on catchwords or partially related themes.

No discernable structure.

Writing Style

 

Prose flows nicely and does not detract from arguments.

Some imprecision detracts from arguments.

Sentences and paragraphs are awkward and demand re-reading to be understood.

Incomplete sentences. Underdeveloped paragraphs. Awkward phrases.

Grammar and Spelling

Stylistically flawless.

Some minor grammatical and/or spelling problems.

Many grammatical and/or spelling problems.

Major grammatical and/or spelling problems.

Footnotes & Bibliography

Full information, properly formatted.

All information included but improperly formatted.

Partial information, properly formatted.

Partial information, improperly formatted.


(c) Richard Ascough, 2011. The material on this website is copyrighted and is for the sole use of students registered in Dr. Ascough’s courses. The material on this website may be downloaded for a registered student’s personal use, but shall not be distributed or disseminated to anyone other than students registered in Dr. Ascough’s courses. Failure to abide by these conditions is a breach of copyright, and may also constitute a breach of academic integrity under the University Senate’s Academic Integrity Policy Statement. Instructors interested in using/adapting this material may do so as long as such use includes acknowledgement of the source.