What I look for in your paper: 1. Answering the question(s) asked. Did you stick with the assigned topic or did you veer off on tangents? Did you have a thesis? 2. Logical coherence and organization. Do you go step-by-step developing your point or do you jump to conclusions without explaining how you got there? 3. Argumentative clarity. Are you being specific about your points or are you making vague statements? Are your thesis statement and conclusion clear about what your argument is? 4. Use of evidence. Do you support your arguments with evidence? Do you cite your sources? Or are your points unsubstantiated? Do you weigh countervailing evidence and address opposing arguments or do you ignore them? 5. Style. Does your paper flow properly or is it riddled with typos? Are you being objective or is the paper primarily about your personal instincts or unsubstantiated opinions about the subject at hand? 6. Grammar and typing. Practice good grammar and spelling habits. Always read your paper over before you turn it in. Better yet, have a friend/colleague read it over and give you their feedback. I have low tolerance for grammatical mistakes and tortuous typos. DO NOT rely on MSWord?s Spell and Grammar Checker to do the dirty work for you. Read over your paper carefully before turning it in. Even better, have a friend read your paper carefully and get their feedback. If English was not your first language, I will take that into consideration. I have graded grammatically polished papers before from people who learned English as their second (or third or even fourth) language. 7. Introduce quotes correctly. And elaborate on the significance and meaning of the quotes you have chosen. 8. Proper format for citation/ documentation. Use one of the commonly accepted forms of citation (either MLA or APA). Be consistent! That is, if you decide to use in-text citation, then stick with it for the rest of the paper. Make sure your footnotes (or endnotes) and entries in the bibliography are in the proper format 9. Avoid long sentences. No sentence should run longer than 4-5 lines. If your sentence runs longer than 4 lines, cut your sentence into two. If you can?t, ask yourself if you?ve loaded too many ideas onto one poor sentence to carry 10. Do not use ?I? and ?my?. 11. Feel free to use subtitles to divide up your paper, but not one subtitle for each paragraph. How to write ?world history?
papers ? Be organized. Have an outline before you begin writing. ? In your introduction paragraph %uF0FA You should introduce the theme of your paper and the major historical processes/ time eras and regions that you will be looking at. %uF0FA Be brief. Your first paragraph should not have any specific details or evidence, only major themes/ ideas. %uF0FA Introduce appropriate time parameters. For example, if you are looking at China, do you mean ancient China, medieval, China after 1600, or China in the 20th century? ? Have a conclusion paragraph. Sum up your major conclusions. ? Be sure to master the historical narrative. You must show that you know Event A happened before Event B. But be careful not to confuse narration with causation ? Even A did not necessarily cause Event B. ? Avoid description! Instead, stay focused on analysis and argument. %uF0FA Description: ?Greece is a mountainous peninsula that juts into the eastern Mediterranean.? %uF0FA Argument: ?Ancient Greece?s geography highly influenced the social, political, and commercial evolution of Greek life. The mountainous terrain, by dividing up the land, helped made possible the rise of independent city-states while the long coastline encouraged sea-borne trade and commerce.? ? Make references to the literature! It shows that 1) you?ve done the readings and 2) you?ve weighed the arguments and various viewpoints, and 3) you were able to pick out the arguments/evidence that will bolster your analysis. ? You should make use of both lecture notes and the primary texts found in your reader. ? Avoid generalizations that are too vague or too obvious (words like ?always? should be used with care.) ? Capitalize correctly. Examples: Hammurabi, Gilgamesh, Greece, Neolithic Revolution, and other proper nouns need to be capitalized. ? Follow the rules of grammar and sentence composition. Avoid sentence fragments. ? Grading Standards ?A? range (90% and up) ? ?I, the person grading your paper, understood exactly what you?re trying to say.? ? For a paper to receive an ?A? it must be more than simply ?correct.? It must present an exceptionally nuanced, coherent, and stylistically sound argument. You will not get an ?A? just for reciting what was presented in lecture. You must show that you have really grappled with the issues at hand and come to your own unique conclusions.
? Answers the question(s) posed clearly and comprehensively. Does not go off on tangents. ? Logically coherent, easy-to-follow argument, going from facts to well-established theories to less obvious ones. ? Assumes little prior knowledge of the subject and explains specialized concepts before applying them. ? Makes specific arguments relevant to the topic and does not make generalized statements without a great deal of supporting evidence. ? Maintains a detached and objective analytical perspective. ? Uses rich and diverse evidence from class and the readings. ? Takes a clear and definitive stance on the issue at hand. ? Takes into account opposing arguments and refutes them satisfactorily. ? Polished style, coherent argument and proofread. English does not need to be perfect, but should have a minimum of typos and be easy to understand. A+ Truly exceptional. Your brilliant argument taught us something we did not know. Or, you conceived of a problem in an imaginative and innovative way. Moreover, there is not a single grammatical mistake. Not even one. A Outstanding. We?ve looked and looked for errors and found perhaps a few lapses in grammar, but they are insignificant because you raised an interesting and important argument. A- Excellent. You show a superb mastery of the materials. Your paper has a clear argument but something is just a little bit off, and consistently so. You need some tightening of argumentation, for example, or you should have pushed your data that extra step. Or, there are some writing flaws in your paper or, your organization might not be perfect and obscures your otherwise fine argument. ?B? range (80%-90%) ?I have a good idea of what you?re trying to say.? ? Answers the questions satisfactorily but may omit certain key aspects. May go off on occasional tangents. Grades in the B- range may omit larger portions of the question. ? Logically coherent but may occasionally jump to conclusions by assuming that the reader already knows the process by which conclusions are reached. ? Uses supporting evidence from the readings and class to a generally satisfactory degree but may occasionally make generalized assertions without backing them up or may stick to only two or three sources and make generalized assertions on those (note that if the curriculum includes very few sources related to the topic this may be a mitigating factor). ? May occasionally lapse into an ?I feel that...? tone, compromising objectivity. May contain typos and grammatical errors but not enough to compromise the integrity of the argument. B+ Very good. You've clearly learned the material and there are no major errors. But your answer is lacking in originality, clarity, or sparkle. In some cases, this grade can be for a brilliant essay with significant and frequent writing flaws. B Good. You have a solid argument but it is not fully developed. Your argument is plausible but you need more supporting evidence to make a convincing case. Or, you?ve given the right evidence but haven?t articulated the argument. Or in an exam, for example, the chronology is confused or in a paper, there are problems with annotation and the use of sources. These are not fatal. B- Pretty good. Your answer is solid, but incomplete. You end the paper or essay where you should begin it. Your essay has the right elements but they are in the wrong order. Your argument is likely missing something and might also have some problems in expression. I might have to strain to figure out what you want to say but once I do, it makes sense. This strain suggests that you could have corrected the problem with more attention to your argument. ?C? range (70%-80%) - ?What were you trying to say?? ? Significant omission of the question. Shows a minimal grasp of the concepts presented in lecture, readings and discussion. ? Fails to cite sufficiently and uses only minimal evidence. Makes broad, general statements that do little to advance the argument. ? Logical coherence is severely compromised, Structure may be disorganized. ? Serious stylistic errors. Conclusion and thesis statement may be non-existent or present a non-controversial stance (i.e. that doesn?t really take one side or the other). C+ Fair. It's not obvious that you've done the readings and listened to the lectures. What you say might be true, but it is unclear since your argument has many writing problems and a reader has to work overtime to figure out what you mean. Your argument, though plausible, is not especially deep or insightful. The paper has errors and an imbalance between generalizations and evidence. There are problems with annotation that suggests attention has not been paid to the detail and mechanics of writing a paper. C Acceptable, but... (1) You might have grasped the basic idea, but have missed the main focal points of the questions and/or; (2) There are omissions or disturbing errors in fact or your logic is flawed and/or; (3) Although basically correct, your argument has no supporting evidence and/or; (4) your writing is obscuring your argument, your notes are inadequate, and your credibility is not so good either.
C- Still acceptable, but... here are a greater number of problems and/or a fewer number of good points than needed to earn you a "C." In other words, more of the C problems (mentioned above) are true in a C- paper. ?D? range (60%-70%) ?Were you trying at all?? ? Critical problems with the argument or argument may be completely incoherent. ? Shows only the barest minimum of effort. May use no evidence, uses theories incorrectly, fails to answer the question entirely, avoids objectivity, and shows sloppy work all around. D+ Barely acceptable. There are serious errors, omissions, or inconsistencies here, but the light of understanding somehow, occasionally, flickers through. D Just barely acceptable. Your answer is so vague that it's hard to find something good to say. Your writing problems also are pretty significant. D- Passing. Be grateful your instructors are nice people with a great deal of patience. Perhaps you need to spend more time on your answers/papers next time! Asking for help might also be a good idea. ?F? range (under 60%) ?You didn?t try.? ? This grade is reserved for assignments that have not been turned in or that are works of plagiarism. F Don?t think so. There's not even enough here about which to be patient. At least you will get some credit for your effort, which is better than the zero you would have gotten for leaving the answer blank. Useful Checklist (to help you nail the ?A? on your paper) ____ 1. Does my paper have a thesis? ____ 2. By the end of the first page did I introduce the topic, the thesis, and the outline of my argument? ____ 3. Do I have any paragraphs that are longer than 1 page? Do I have any paragraphs that are less than 3 sentences? ____ 4. Did I stick to the page limit? ____ 5. Do I have a bibliography (if required)? Did I format it correctly? ____ 6. Did I back up controversial claims or key points with references and documentation? ____ 7. Did I number the pages in my essay? ____ 8. Did I use ?Times New Roman? 12 ? font? ____ 9. Did I double space? ____ 10. Did I ask a friend to check my paper for spelling and grammatical errors?
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