Grading Criteria for Sophomore Literature Essays

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English 206 and 207, like other sophomore literature courses, support the following Ferrum College learning outcomes for all students:

  • Communicate with unity of purpose, coherent organization, and effective use of English consistent with standard rules and recognized conventions

  • Demonstrate information literacy, using available technology when appropriate

  • Demonstrate comptency in reading

  • Think critically and solve problems through analysis, evaluation, inference, induction, and deduction.

In keeping with the college's writing intensive program, students in sophomore literature write essays that are satisfactory in the following areas in order to earn a grade of C or better in the course.

1. Appropriate presentation of content

2. Evidence of effective college-level writing skills, including

a. unified focus and organization

b. logical development of ideas and arguments

c. precise and effective wording

d. standard sentence structure and  vocabulary

e. avoidance of mechanical and grammatical errors,

f. complete and accurate  documentation of sources

3. Ability to adapt writing style to needs of various audiences

Check the lists above and the descriptions of literature papers below as you write your essays, and after an essay is returned to you with one of the following grades. Remember that your main purpose, and the professor's main purpose, is to improve your writing skills as a means of communicating your ideas about literature in this course, and as way of developing communication skills you will need throughout your academic and professional life. Ferrum College provides a variety of resources for helping you develop your writing skills.

  • An "A" essay offers an insightful analysis which helps a college-educated reader better understand the literary work. It has a clear thesis, focuses on that thesis, and uses good details and interesting examples for support. The essay is well organized, interesting, and free of all proofreading errors, or it has only a few minor mechanical errors. Specific details are used effectively to support the main ideas of the paper. Since the paper expresses independent thought with grace, clarity, and force, anyone would want to read more writing by the author of an "A" essay. Although an A paper is excellent or superior, it need not match the writing quality or depth expected in professional writing or literature papers in more advanced courses.

  • A "B" essay is above average in content and fluency. Like an A paper, it has an analytical thesis and focuses on that thesis, but it has shortcomings in one or more areas: organization, examples (support), proofreading and editing, use of source material, formatting. There may be several routine mechanical errors, occasional monotony or awkwardness in expression, lack of originality, a less precise or forceful thesis than in an A paper, or less convincing evidence for the paper's general ideas. The author of a "B" essay would benefit from a trip to the Writing Center but no doubt could improve on his or her own, with a little extra effort.

  • A "C" essay fulfills the assignment in a satisfactory or average way. It has a focus that falls within the requirements of the assignment. Its ideas are supported with examples, explained in complete sentences and standard English. But it has weaknesses  in one or more of the following areas: thesis, organization, examples (support), proofreading and editing, use of source material, formatting. A "C"  paper may be satisfactory rather than excellent because of weak style, trite expression, inadequate support of generalizations, relying on too few or uninteresting details, inaccuracy in use of details or background information, careless mechanical errors, or absence of an original, significant purpose. A paper that summarizes the literature rather than writing a well-focused analysis will likely receive a grade of "C" if the essay is otherwise well written. The author of a "C" essay would benefit by working with Writing Center and ARC tutors and could experience surprising results if he or she works hard.

  • A "D" essay reflects unsatisfactory work, below college standards. It may have redeeming features, such as a discoverable thesis that is not always clearly presented, and a rational but shaky effort to deal with the topic. Some "D" papers do not meet the assignment's requirement in length (subtopics are not developed adequately) or subject (the topic was not approved or the purpose is not fulfilled consistently throughout the paper).  A "D" paper may contain some perceptive or creative ideas, but fail in its manner of shaping them into a satisfactory essay because of major shortcomings  in any of the following areas: thesis, organization, examples (support), proofreading and editing, use of source material, formatting.  Faulty and illogical sentence structures, immature style, imprecise use of words, rambling organization or repetition of vague generalities, and frequent mechanical errors make "D" papers hard to read. Too few supporting examples or inaccurate, illogical use of details from the literature or source materials can put a paper into the "D" category. A paper that summarizes rather than analyzes the literature may receive a "D" if there are additional problems in the paper. The author of a "D" essay needs to spend more time writing, revising, and editing papers. He or she no doubt needs help outside class if he or she is to pass English 207 with a "C" or better and, without improvement in these basic writing skills, may not succeed in other courses which require a significant amount of writing. (Remember that a grade of C or better is required if you are taking the course for writing intensive credit.)

  • An "F" essay is unacceptable, below college standards. It has multiple problems in the following areas: thesis, organization, examples (support), proofreading and editing, use of source material, formatting. Papers may receive "F" because they do not focus on an approved topic or they fall far short in meeting the assignment's requirements for length or subject. The author of an "F" essay will most likely need regular help from tutors to improve or refresh his or her basic writing skills. A student might also receive an "F" due to plagiarism.  I will not assign any grade to a paper with a potential plagiarism problem until that problem is resolved.

Tina Hanlon's English 207 home page: World Folktales and Literature

Tina Hanlon's English 206 home page: American Literature II

Tina Hanlon's English 207 home page: Appalachian Literature

Guidelines for Papers in English 207 Spring 2006

ARC Tutoring Center

Ferrum College Writing Center

Stanley Library at Ferrum College

This page revised 8/25/10