Use a Grading Rubric
You’ll find that evaluating writing assignments with some sort of grading guide is useful. Your allocation of grades or points will be more evenhanded, especially if you’re reading into the early morning hours! Grading rubrics usually describe features that will constitute A-range work, B-range work, C-range work, and so on (or the points equivalent). They take the objective of the assignment into account as well as its execution. You can sketch your own set of grade expectations for a particular assignment or develop one collaboratively with the faculty instructor and/or with other TAs. Working with a grading rubric can also curb grade inflation because you’re holding yourself to thoughtfully articulated grading standards. (See this section’s Summary and Resources for UCLA Catalog grade descriptions.)
You can create a rubric for all the course’s writing work, but it’s best to craft one for each assignment.
Example of Using a Grading Rubric:
Let’s look at the this example of an assignment and accompanying grading guide, which describes how well the writer has accomplished the conceptual and writing goals of the assignment:
Does language unify or divide us? Consider how two authors in this section might answer this question, given the views they’ve expressed in the essays included here. Explain how their views coincide with or differ from your own answer to this question. In this comparison, you have two pairs to work with: your two authors and the potential of language to unify or divide. You also have your own views on how language unifies or divides to consider. We'll talk in class about how to organize the comparison—it will have to be more than a laundry list of similarities and differences. You’ll have to pick the comparative points that seem most important to you, the ones that help you answer the question.
Grades: Comparison Assignment
A-range The comparison offered insight into the way language can unify or divide us. The writer clearly explained the views of her authors and related them effectively to her own. The writer chose apt quotations from the texts and incorporated them smoothly into her own discussion. There were no technical errors.
B-range The comparison offered some good observations on language, although some of its points may have been underdeveloped. The views of the authors were presented accurately. The writer may not have related them to her own views on language. The quotations were relevant. In some cases, they may have been offered awkwardly or without enough context. There were only minor technical errors.
C-range The comparison failed to focus specifically on the way language unifies or divides. It may have offered very general observations, merely summarized the texts, or veered entirely into personal experience. The writer might have had problems understanding some of her authors’ points. Quotations may have been irrelevant or dropped into the paper without signal phrases. Technical errors were either frequent or distracting.
D-range This essay lacked any comparative points. And the writer had significant difficulty with reading comprehension. Quotations were irrelevant, misunderstood, or not used. There were probably serious technical problems, for example, basic grammatical errors.
Courtesy of Susan Griffin, UCLA Writing Programs.