FIVE TRAITS OF WRITING
The Additional Questions below go with the Five Traits of Writing rubric. Below the additional questions, there is a Rubric for Self-Evaluation also based on the Five Traits.
1. Ideas, Content, and Critical Thinking:
- After reading the essay, do you have a clear sense of a consistent overall purpose? Is that purpose the student’s own, rather than that of their sources?
- Does the thesis, whether stated explicitly or implied, go beyond announcing the topic—perhaps to assert its importance, argue for a particular way of thinking about it, or argue for a certain course of action?
- Does the student avoid oversimplifying the topic or the debates around it?
2. Organization and Paragraphing:
- Does each paragraph have a clear focus?
- Does the student provide sufficient explanation of how points are related, or how he/she gets from one point to the next?
- Are the same points sometimes repeated unnecessarily in multiple places in the essay?
- Do you get “lost” in long paragraphs or strings of seemingly unconnected points?
- Is there a clear logic/rationale behind the sequence of sentences in paragraphs and paragraphs in the essay?
3. Voice and Style:
- Do you get the sense of an individual human voice that cares about the topic being discussed?
- Does the student keep a consistent tone, or does the tone shift unexpectedly in ways that are likely not deliberate?
- Does the student seem to have made reasonable assumptions about the knowledge, attitudes, and/or identity of readers? (Are readers assumed to feel or do things that may not be applicable? Are difficult/contested terms left undefined, or very common terms that no one would question defined for no apparent reason?)
- Does the student seem to understand the meanings of the words he/she is using, or do you get the sense that the thesaurus tool may be interfering with intended meanings or a clear writerly voice?
4. Sentence Fluency and Conventions:
- Is punctuation mostly correct, or do punctuation marks seem randomly scattered about?
- Do structural shifts cause you to become lost mid-sentence?
- Are the wrong words often used, likely as a result of homophone confusion or overreliance on spell check?
- Are the errors occasional and rarely disruptive, or are they prevalent or dramatic enough to seriously interfere with the writer’s credibility or the clarity of his/her points?
- Do breaks from convention (say, an incomplete sentence) seem like accidents, or may they have been done for deliberate effect?
5. Research Methods:
- Is the student’s chosen source material clearly connected to the points he/she intends to make?
- Does the student seem to have understood the source material, interpreted it in a reasonable way, and represented it faithfully?
- Does the student introduce and cite the source material in a way that makes clear when the source is talking and when the student is talking?
- Does the student explain all quotes, paraphrases, and summaries so that a reader can understand why they’re relevant to the discussion and what points they’re intended to make?
- Has source material “taken over” the paper rather than being used to support the student’s own arguments?
- Is there information that likely came from a source, but no source is cited?
RUBRIC FOR SELF-ASSESSMENT
1) Ideas, Content/Argument/Purpose, and Critical Thinking
- What is my thesis?Rubric for Self-Evaluation
- Does my thesis make an point rather than just announcing my topic? (Announcing the topic or asking a question is fine in the intro, but by the conclusion we should know what exactly you want us to understand about your topic.)
- Are there any places where my essay gets off-topic, straying too far from the point?
- Are my ideas interesting, and does it seem like I’ve thought everything through thoroughly?
- Have I included everything most people would need to understand in order for my point to be convincing?
2) Organization and Paragraphing
- Is every paragraph clearly related to the purpose of my essay?
- Can I describe the topic of every paragraph? If a paragraph is difficult to see a single point in, could I improve it by dividing that paragraph into two, removing irrelevant material, or moving some things to another paragraph?
- Are any of my paragraphs controlled entirely by one source? Does that make sense because this is the only source talking about the topic of the paragraph? If so, have I included a topic sentence to introduce the topic before introducing the source?
Paragraph arrangement and connection:
- Does the order of my paragraphs make sense? Would moving one earlier help readers to understand a later one? Would moving two together help readers see an interesting connection?
- Do I give topic sentences and transition between paragraphs in a way that makes clear both how they relate to each other and how they relate back to the main point?
- Do I explain, either in my intro or in an early body paragraph, any definitions and basic principles that my readers need to know in order to understand the rest of the essay?
- Does my introduction show readers why my topic is interesting?
- Does my conclusion leave readers with a sense of what my point is and why it matters?
3) Voice and Style
- Does the essay sound like it was written by a human being who cares about the topic? (In other words, does my tone make readers join me in my interest in the topic?)
- Am I keeping in mind that some members of my audience may have different experiences or viewpoints than I do? Is there anywhere that I’ve been belittling or made “everyone knows” or “we all agree”-type statements that might not work well for every reader?
- Do I keep my tone and level of formality consistent throughout my essay? If I ever jump to a much more formal/informal register or a more friendly/argumentative/angry/whatever tone, did I do so on purpose?
4) Sentence Fluency and Conventions
- Are my sentences grammatically complete and easy to follow?
- Have I used the right words to communicate my meaning? Did I take any suggestions from the thesaurus or spell check that I didn’t understand? If I have troubles with then/than, affect/effect, or another homophone pair, have I checked to make sure I used the right one every time?
- How’s my punctuation? Do I use commas where they’re needed? Do my possessives have apostrophes in the right place, and have I refrained from adding unnecessary apostrophes?
- If anything I did wasn’t in line with standard grammatical conventions, was that on purpose?
5) Research and Source Use
- Have I included enough material from my sources? Have I refrained from including so much material that they take over?
- Have I included any quotes that I’m not certain I understand?
- Am I making any statements that would be helped by additional support from a source?
Clarity and integration:
- For every quote or paraphrase I give, have I introduced it so that my reader knows who’s talking and/or what it relates to?
- After any quote or paraphrase, have I explained what my reader should understand from that source, as far as what it’s saying and why that’s related to the point I’m making?
- Is it always clear when I’m talking and when someone else is talking?
- Is it always clear when I’m explaining my source’s point of view and when I’m relaying an opinion that the source talked about but doesn’t agree with?
- Am I remembering to include a parenthetical citation anytime I borrow someone else’s ideas, and to add quotation marks around any wording that wasn’t something I thought of?
- Are my parenthetical citations correctly formatted according to MLA or APA style, with all authors’ last names, a page number, and extras like “qtd. in” or part of the title when necessary?
- Is my Works Cited/References page correctly formatted according to MLA or APA style, with entries in alphabetical order, double-spaced, with hanging indents? Does each citation entry include all the necessary information and use punctuation, quotation marks, italics, and capitalization according to MLA or APA guidelines?
UNIVERSITY STUDIES PROGRAM
765 Algoma Boulevard
Oshkosh, WI 54901