Humanities Core Course
Grading Rubric for Final Essays  





Development and Support




has cogent analysis, shows command of interpretive and conceptual tasks required by assignment and course materials: ideas original, often insightful, going beyond ideas discussed in lecture and class

commands attention with a convincing argument with a compelling purpose; highly responsive to the demands of a specific writing situation; sophisticated use of  conventions of academic discipline and genre; anticipates the reader's needs for information, explanation, and context

essay controlled by clear, precise, well-defined thesis; is sophisticated in both statement and insight

well-chosen examples; uses persuasive reasoning to develop and support thesis consistently; uses specific quotations, statistics, aesthetic details, or citations of scholarly sources effectively; logical connections between ideas are evident

well-constructed paragraphs; appropriate, clear, and smooth transitions; arrangement of organizational elements seems particularly apt

uses sophisticated sentences effectively; usually chooses words aptly; observes professional conventions of written English and manuscript format; makes few minor or technical errors


shows a good understanding of the texts, ideas and methods of the assignment; goes beyond the obvious; may have one minor factual or conceptual inconsistency

addresses audience with a thoughtful argument with a clear purpose; responds directly to the demands of a specific writing situation; competent use of the conventions of academic discipline and genre; addresses the reader's needs for information, explanation, context

clear, specific, arguable thesis central to the essay; may have left minor terms undefined

pursues explanation and proof of thesis consistently; develops a main argument with explicit major points with appropriate textual evidence and supporting detail

distinct units of thought in paragraphs controlled by specific, detailed, and arguable topic sentences; clear transitions between developed, cohering, and logically arranged paragraphs 

a few mechanical difficulties or stylistic problems (split infinitives, dangling modifiers, etc.); may make occasional problematic word choices or syntax errors; a few spelling or punctuation errors or a cliché; usually presents quotations effectively, using appropriate format


shows an understanding of the basic ideas and information involved in the assignment; may have some factual, interpretive, or conceptual errors

presents an adequate response to the essay prompt; pays attention to the basic elements of the writing situation; shows sufficient competence in the conventions of academic discipline and genre; signals the importance of the reader's needs for information, explanation, and context

general thesis or controlling idea; may not define several central terms

only partially develops the argument; shallow analysis; some ideas and generalizations undeveloped or unsupported; makes limited use of textual evidence; fails to integrate quotations appropriately; warrants missing

some awkward transitions; some brief, weakly unified or undeveloped paragraphs; arrangement may not appear entirely natural; contains extraneous information

more frequent wordiness; unclear or awkward sentences; imprecise use of words or over-reliance on passive voice; some distracting grammatical errors (wrong verb tense, pronoun agreement, apostrophe errors, singular/plural errors, article use, preposition use, comma splice, etc.); makes effort to present quotations accurately


shows inadequate command of course materials or has significant factual and conceptual errors; confuses some significant ideas

shows serious weaknesses in addressing an audience; unresponsive to the specific writing situation; poor articulation of purpose in academic writing; often states the obvious or the inappropriate

thesis vague or not central to argument; central terms not defined

frequently only narrates; digresses from one topic to another without developing ideas or terms; makes insufficient or awkward use of textual evidence; relies on too few   or the wrong type of sources.

simplistic, tends to narrate or merely summarize; wanders from one topic to another; illogical arrangement of ideas

some major grammatical or proofreading errors (subject-verb agreement, sentence fragments, word form errors, etc.); language frequently weakened by clichés, colloquialisms, repeated inexact word choices; incorrect quotation or citation format


writer lacks critical understanding of lectures, readings, discussions, or assignments

shows severe difficulties communicating through academic writing

no discernible thesis

little or no development; may list disjointed facts or misinformation; uses no quotations or fails to cite sources or plagiarizes

no transitions; incoherent paragraphs; suggests poor planning or no serious revision

numerous grammatical errors and stylistic problems seriously detract from the argument; does not meet Standard Written English requirement