Participation Guidelines

I have prepared the following guidelines to enable students to judge their own performance in class.

A student with excellent in-class participation and grades exhibits most of the following characteristics:
· attends every class and is enthusiastic about learning (is absent no more than twice all semester)
· prepares for class by completing all assignments
· arrives promptly to class and stays for the entire class period
· takes a leadership role in class in discussions, group projects, and/or peer discussions without dominating
· does not talk to classmates when it is not appropriate
· displays a willingness to be supportive of and helpful to classmates
· achieves excellent scores on all quizzes, reading responses, essays, and examinations
· shows steady improvement in writing and shows superior analytical comprehension of readings
· maintains a positive approach to learning

C A student with average in-class participation and grades exhibits most of the following characteristics:
· attends regularly, is only occasionally tardy, has only a few absences
· usually prepared for class
· usually understands and follows the class discussions
· participates, but not very actively, in class by volunteering occasionally
· participates when called upon
· is courteous and conscientious
· earns average scores on midterm and final
· quizzes, essays, and/or reading response grades show some improvement

F A student with below average in-class participation and grades exhibits most of the following characteristics:
· has irregular attendance and is frequently tardy
· reading is not completed and study questions are not done
· generally is not prepared for class; complains about amount of work
· may sleep in class, write notes to friends etc.
· not focused, disrupts class discussions with unfocused questions or remarks
· frequently says, "I don't know," when called upon
· quality of work does not seem to improve; lack of conscientiousness regarding assignments
· erratic grades, missing grades, and failure to follow guidelines for assignments
· demonstrates a lack of concern over writing errors

Evaluation of Student Writing

Before beginning to read each written assignment, I assume that the paper is competent, i.e., average (in other words, your paper is not starting from an A and working downward, nor is it starting from an F and working upward). First, I read all papers through completely in a "holistic" manner, without making any markings on the pages. I read an entire class's papers through in this manner before I assign a grade to any of the essays. Next, I read each essay a second time, considering several areas of competence. 1) content, 2) organization, 3) style (or readability), and 4) mechanics and basic skills. A paper which is able to rise above the "average" captures my attention in the first two categories and does well in the second two. If, however, a paper captures my attention because of problems in categories 3) and 4), then the paper automatically falls out of the superior range, or out of the A/B range into the C and below range. I use the full grading scale, and base an A on the best I receive out of the entire group.

An A essay (outstanding) presents a cogent, well-articulated critique, demonstrates a high degree of competence in writing, demonstrates facility with conventional correctness, includes a variety of sentence structures, stylistic devices of rhetorical nature, mature thought and diction, logical organization. It will provide original and provocative ideas, show development and complexity of thought appropriate to college level, and support abstract concepts with well-selected, relevant details and examples from the literature. Writing in this category will reflect serious, mature, and original ideas at a high level. It will comprehend the dynamics or polarities inherent in the work of literature at a significant level above the simple and superficial realm. It will demonstrate superior comprehension of a text's literary language. It will also show sensitivity to the figurative and general metaphoric nature of the text.

A B essay (strong) presents a well-developed critique and demonstrates good control of the elements of effective writing. It will be similar to an A paper in categories involving readability and mechanics (3 & 4), although its understanding of the literature and/the assignment may be slighted, or somewhat superficial, may provide more general supporting evidence, and display a slight weakness in organization and structure. A few minor errors in logic may be present, but the basic content is very good. An essay in this category usually demonstrates a clear, solid grasp of the ideas, but is more conventional and not as well organized and developed for rhetorical effect.

A C essay (adequate) presents a competent critique and demonstrates adequate control of writing. It may have occasional problems with mechanics (4), but it contains no serious errors. It may have some paragraph development and transition difficulties, sentence structure may be somewhat awkward and simple. Errors in diction and idiom may occur. Nevertheless, a C essay will demonstrate a solid awareness of the significance of literature, and will display a good, competent understanding of it. The supporting evidence is often irrelevant, and it usually introduces irrelevancies and vague paraphrases. An essay in this category is average; it generally has good ideas, but lacks development, fluency, and preciseness.

A D essay (limited) will treat the assignment in a superficial manner, misinterpret the literature, or give irrelevant and cryptic supporting material. The thesis statement is usually poorly conceived. There will be marked deficiencies in organization, a serious lack of development, and contain many elementary flaws in grammar, diction, mechanics, sentence structure, and coherence. Even though a D essay may contain some moments of insight, it has serious problems in categories 3 & 4.

An F essay will fail to fulfill the assignment, will lack any comprehension of the literature, and express general confusion regarding the issues. Generally, it also has very serious problems in the areas of style (readability) and mechanics. Any paper that does not demonstrate basic competency in the English language, regardless of how hard the student tries, will not pass the standards set by the department of English. Students who anticipate having problems in this area should sign up for the English writing lab and arrange for special help.