Grading Policy

I do not believe in the bell curve. I believe that if a student does what is expected of her or him, she or he deserves a good grade. Every one of my students is eligible for an A in my course. Of course, that does not mean that earning an A is easy or that everyone will get one.


You will NOT receive grades on your writing throughout the semester, with the exception of the final portfolio. I believe that when students focus on a letter or a number, they forget about learning. Plus, I cannot expect you to be doing the same level of writing at the beginning of the semester as you will be doing at the end of the semester, when you have had time to learn more about the craft. It would be unfair for me to judge the early work the same way as the later works. Instead, you will receive feedback that I expect you to consider and address, so that when you get to the final portfolio, you have learned something, and you can present your best work.


Your final grade will be calculated as follow:

50% contract grade

50% quality of final ePortfolio


50% Contract Grade

The contract grade represents an agreement between students and the professor that they will submit work on time and the professor will respond in a timely fashion. The idea is that you get credit for the work and the effort you apply rather than simply getting a grade on the quality of your writing, which may change from draft to draft, as you learn more, or depending on the time you were able to dedicate to the task.


I do this is because I believe students deserve time to develop their writing and that it would be unfair to evaluate writing done the first week of class through the same lens as writing turned in the last week of class, after learning more about it. I also think it encourages students to take risks and to involve themselves in conversations with others.


The contract grade addresses participation, the ability to fulfill work criteria and deadlines, and attendance.


Satisfactory – B

Students who perform at a satisfactory level will earn a contract grade. This grade is for students who do everything that is required, but do not go the extra mile to do more than what is asked of them. To earn at least a students should:

  • Complete all major assignment drafts
  • Complete all small writing assignments (blogs, progress posts, etc.)
  • Turn in no more than 3 late drafts or assignments (within one week)
  • Meet the criteria for each writing assignment
  • Contribute to each class discussion
  • Meet the minimum requirement for Twitter participation
  • Provide adequate feedback on classmates’ writing in person and online
  • Almost always be “on task” during class
  • Attend all mandatory professor-student conferences
  • Avoid excessive absences (more than 3)


Excellence – A

Students who demonstrate excellence will earn an contract grade. This grade is for students who go above and beyond average or adequate participation and engagement. To earn an students should:

  • Complete all major assignment drafts
  • Complete all small writing assignments (blogs, progress posts, etc.)
  • Post all work on time
  • Go above and beyond the criteria for each writing assignment
  • Actively participate in all class discussions
  • Actively tweet using the class hashtag—do more than the minimum  requirement
  • Always be “on task” in class
  • Provide insightful feedback on classmates’ writing in-person and online
  • Attend all mandatory professor-student conferences
  • Avoid absences (no more than 2)


Bare minimum – C

Students who do the bare minimum will earn a contract grade. To earn at least a C students should:

  • Missing no more than 2 drafts or 2 small assignments
  • Turn in no more than 4 drafts assignments late
  • Mostly meet criteria for writing assignments
  • Sometimes contribute to class discussion
  • Give feedback to peers that is adequate in either quality or quantity, but not both
  • Occasionally are not “on task”
  • Spotty participation on Twitter
  • Miss mandatory professor-student conferences
  • Absent 4-5 times


Work missing/Incomplete – F

Students who perform at a satisfactory level will earn an contract grade. I rarely give D contract grades, but that would fall into this category as well. An F contract grade will be given to students who:

  • Missing 1 major assignment, more than 2 drafts, or more than 2 small assignments
  • Does not fulfill minimum requirements for the majority of assignments
  • Little to no participation in class discussion
  • Little to no participation on Twitter
  • Give inadequate feedback to peers
  • Constantly “off task”
  • Miss mandatory professor-student conferences
  • Absent 6+ times


+/- contract grades are possible.


50% Final ePortfolio

The Final ePortfolio will be judged for quality based on a rubric that values content over mechanics. We will develop the rubric as a class later in the semester after discussions about what we value in discipline-specific academic writing. Typically, the rubric looks something like the English & Modern Language Department Grading Standards. Late ePortfolios will not be considered and will result in failure of the course.



A:            Outstanding Work.  An A paper presents interesting, insightful ideas.  There is a clear focus (thesis, controlling idea) which is developed in an organized, concise, logical manner.  Unified and coherent paragraphs include specific, relevant supporting evidence and examples.  Sentences are varied and well-constructed.  Word choices are precise, fresh,  and vivid.  There are virtually no errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage.  Research, if used, is thorough, accurately documented, and effectively integrated.

B:            Good Work.  A B paper demonstrates a thoughtful, solid understanding of the subject.  Although ideas are interesting, they tend to lack originality or insight.  Focus is clear and content well organized, but paragraphs may be slightly underdeveloped or need more support.  Most sentences are varied and well constructed.  Word choice is generally appropriate.  Although there may be some minor errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage, none of these problems is glaring or highly distracting.  Research may not be as thorough, appropriately documented, or effectively integrated as an A paper.

C.             Adequate Work.  A C paper is an average paper, presenting ideas that may be obvious or unexceptional.  Parts of the essay may be unclear and information general or repetitious.  The essay is somewhat developed and organized. Paragraph breaks may not always correspond to shifts in topic.  Sentence structure can be repetitive or awkward  and word choice imprecise or inappropriate.  Errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling or usage may distract the reader but do not prevent comprehension.  Research may not be appropriately used or effectively integrated.

D.            Poor Work.   A D paper tends to lack insight and interesting ideas.  Focus is often confusing or not easily identified.  The essay is usually undeveloped and poorly organized.  Paragraph breaks can be arbitrary.  Statements are unsupported, repetitive, or irrelevant.  Sentence structure and word choice may be inaccurate, confusing, or awkward.  There are many grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage errors.  Research is poorly documented and ineffectively used to develop the paper.

F.             Unacceptable Work.   An F paper presents simplistic, inappropriate, or incoherent ideas and lacks focus.  It tends to be undeveloped and disorganized.  Paragraphs are incoherent, and paragraph breaks often do not correspond to shifts in topic.  Statements are unsupported, repetitive, or irrelevant.  Sentence structure and word choice are inaccurate, confusing, or awkward.  There are many grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage errors that often prevent comprehension.  Research is not evident, or sources are undocumented, i.e., plagiarized.


Department of English & Modern Language Studies Academic Integrity Policy

Students must accept the responsibility to be honest and to respect ethical standards in fulfilling the requirements of their courses and assignments.  Integrity in academic life requires that students demonstrate intellectual and academic achievement independent of all assistance except that authorized by the instructor. The use of an outside source, including electronic sources, in any paper, report or submission for academic credit without the appropriate acknowledgment is plagiarism. It is unethical to present as one’s own work the ideas, words or representations of another without the proper indication of the source. Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to give credit for any quotation, paraphrase, summary, idea or data borrowed from an outside source.


Violations of academic integrity may include but are not limited to:

  • Copying from another student’s work
  • Presenting the work of another person as one’s own
  • Allowing one’s work to be copied by another person
  • Using others’ words or ideas without proper indication of the source
  • Collaboration on a written assignment without permission of the instructor


These standards apply to all or any part of an assignment.

These standards apply to all resources, whether hard copy, electronic or otherwise Internet-based.

These standards apply to all courses in the English & Modern Language Studies Department, whether in the face-to-face classroom or online.


The English & Modern Language Studies Department policy on plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty is as follows:


1.  The first infraction, depending on its severity, will result in failure of the assignment without opportunity to revise or, possibly, in failure of the course.

2.  Any subsequent infraction may result in failure in the course.

3.  A record of the infraction will be placed on file in the office of the English Department chair; the record will be maintained for no more than five years.

4.  If an infraction results in failure in the course, the instructor may, at his or her discretion, supply a letter to OSA for inclusion in the student’s academic file.


This policy will be widely disseminated in all courses conducted by the Department.


Please Note: Faculty of this Department will use all of the appropriate technical tools, which may include online anti-plagiarism services, to confirm instances of plagiarism.



Academic honesty demands that all students avoid plagiarism.  Plagiarism is defined by The Little Brown Compact Handbook as the presentation of using someone else’s ideas or words as your own organizational patterns without giving credit to the source (Aaron 384).  Plagiarism will result in failing the assignment and possibly the course.  Please see the Department Academic Integrity code and the Pace Undergraduate Catalog for further discussion of penalties for plagiarism.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

  • Use quotation marks when quoting an author’s words exactly as they appear in the source.  Also cite in the text or indicate in   parentheses the author’s name and the page number at the end of each paraphrase or summary.
  • Use Modern Language Association (MLA) style documentation format for all English Department papers.  Note that other disciplines, such as Social Sciences, Nursing, and Education, use American Psychological Association (APA) format.
  • Include a Works Cited list (formerly called a bibliography) at the end of your essay, when writing in MLA style, or a References list in APA style.
  • Do not borrow, buy, or copy all or part of another person’s work–published or not–and submit it as your own.
  • Visit the Writing Center or talk to your professor if you’re not sure if something constitutes plagiarism before you submit it.

Works Cited

Aaron, Jane E.  The Little Brown Compact Handbook, 5th ed.  New York: Pearson Longman, 2004.

Late Policies:

  • Since we often work collaboratively, if you do not bring your work to class, you are not only affecting your own learning experience, but those of your classmates. This is why late work is unacceptable in this course. Because we work on a contract system, late work will significantly impact your grade. I will only accept work within a week of its due date for partial credit. Anything that is more than a week late with receives no credit. You will not be eligible for a grade of A if you are missing any work.
  • I will only consider excusing absences or granting extensions for assignments when a student has a documented medical or family emergency. I define an emergency as an unforeseen event that necessitates your absence from all your classes for at least a week. Such an emergency must be reported to me as soon as possible, and the Advisement office of your school must be notified as well.  The Advisement office should then send me a note verifying your emergency.

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