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Posts Tagged ‘assignment guideline’

The following is a really useful breakdown of essay grading at Trininty College Dublin’s philosophy department. You can access the entire document through http://www.tcd.ie/Philosophy/Files/HB2009-2010.pdf, but I though I’d share this section on how grades are broken down. The piece was written specifically for philosophy essays but, of course, translates to most academic essay criteria.

First Class (70-100)
First class work represents an excellent to outstanding performance demonstrating a thorough understanding of the
subject. In addition to a mastery of a wide to full range of the standard literature and/or methods and techniques of the subject, work at this level shows independence of judgement and evidence of attainment beyond the standard material. It will frequently demonstrate characteristics such as insight, imagination, originality and creativity. A first class answer will represent a comprehensive and accurate answer to the question, that will exhibit a detailed knowledge of the relevant material as well as a broad base of knowledge.
Theory and evidence will be well integrated and the selection of sources, ideas, methods or techniques will be well judged and appropriately organised to address the relevant issue or problem. It will demonstrate a high level of ability to evaluate and integrate information and ideas, to deal with knowledge in a critical way, and to reason and argue in a logical way. Where relevant it will also demonstrate a high level of ability to analyse information, to make sense of material, to solve problems, to generate new ideas and concepts and to apply knowledge to new situations. The presentation of information, arguments and conclusions will be fluent and clearly written and may also show particular lucidity in expression appropriate to the subject.
What differentiates a first class piece of work from one awarded an upper second is a greater lucidity, a greater
independence of judgement, a greater depth of insight and degree of originality, more evidence of an ability to integrate material, and evidence of a greater breadth of reading and research in the first that is not present in the upper second.

Thus a first class piece of work shows positive characteristics such as:

• Answers the question clearly and comprehensively, in a
focused way
• Has an excellent structure and organization
• Demonstrates characteristics such as insight,
imagination, originality and creativity
• Demonstrates the ability to integrate information
• Exhibits sound critical thinking
• Exhibits independence of judgement
• Clearly explains relevant theory and cites relevant
evidence
• Contains reasoned argument and comes to a logical
conclusion
• Gives evidence of wide relevant reading
• Includes a number of appropriate examples
• Demonstrates a clear comprehension of the subject
• Demonstrates the ability to apply learning to new
situations and to solves new problems
• Is lucid and well written
• Lacks errors of any significant kind

All pieces of first class work may not have all of the characteristics above, but all such work will have few, if any,
negative characteristics.

Upper Second Class (60-69)
Work at upper second class level displays a sound and clear understanding of the subject and demonstrates a good grasp of a wide range of the standard literature and /or methods and techniques of the subject. An upper second class answer constitutes a well-organised and structured answer to the question, that is reasonably comprehensive, generally accurate and well-informed. It will normally demonstrate a greater breadth of knowledge than would be gained merely from the lecture notes and basic required reading. It will demonstrate some ability to evaluate and integrate information and ideas, to deal with knowledge in a critical way, and to reason and argue in a logical way. Where relevant it will also demonstrate an ability to analyze information, to make sense of material, to solve problems, to generate new ideas and concepts and to apply knowledge to new situations. The presentation of information, arguments and conclusions will be clear and well written.
What differentiates an upper second class piece of work from one awarded a lower second is the greater success in
answering the question, the additional understanding displayed, the greater evidence of additional reading, the
improved structure and organization, the superior quality of the argument, and the level of critical thinking displayed.
Thus an upper second class piece of work shows positive characteristics such as:

Answers the question clearly and fully
• Has a good structure and organization
• Shows evidence of a very good understanding of the
topic
• Show clear evidence of relevant reading and research
• Clearly explains relevant theory and cites relevant
evidence
• Contains reasoned argument and comes to a logical
conclusion
• Includes highly relevant ideas
• Uses relevant examples
• Demonstrates the ability to apply learning to new
situations and to solve problems
• Is well written
• Lacks errors of any significant kind.

Upper second class work usually has a few negative characteristics, but may be limited in the sense that it:

Could demonstrate more in the way of critical insight, imagination, originality or creativity
• Does not answer the question as fully and
comprehensively as would be possible
• Could demonstrate more ability to integrate information
• Could exhibit more critical thinking
• Could exhibit more independence of thought
Lower second class (50-59)
Work at lower second class level displays a knowledge of the standard material and approaches of the subject and a
familiarity with much of the standard literature and/or methods. A lower second class answer may constitute a relatively simplistic answer to the question, and is likely to be based on a narrow range of sources, such as lecture notes and the basic required reading, rather than being indicative of wider reading. It usually displays a basic ability to use relevant sources, methods or techniques normally applied in the subject to achieve some success in solving problems or marshalling arguments to reach a conclusion. The work may show some inconsistency in standard, may contain occasional technical or factual flaws, and may exhibit some difficulties with the organization of material or with the full understanding of a problem or issue, but it is adequately presented and may include some critical judgement applied to analysis or the application of standard ideas or methods.
What differentiates a lower second class piece or work from one awarded a third class grade is the greater success of
the lower second in answering the question, together with the possession of more relevant information, a more coherent argument and an improved structure, although neither the answer to the question nor the structure nay be incapable of improvement.
Work at Lower second class level will tend to posses some or all of the following positive characteristics:

Attempts to answer the question
• Shows evidence of a basic to good understanding of the
topic
• Shows evidence of some relevant reading and research
• Includes some relevant ideas
• Includes some relevant examples

Work at Lower second class level will tend to posses some or all of the following negative characteristics:
• The attempt to answer the question may not be
completely successful
• Does not contain a sufficiently well-structured argument
• Does not offer sufficient evidence to justify assertions
• Does not include sufficient relevant examples
• The style of writing could be improved
• Lacks lucidity
• May contain some minor errors

Third Class (40-49)
Work at this level contains evidence of study of the appropriate material and displays a level of presentation at
least minimally commensurate with the award of an honours degree, but it often reflects only a limited familiarity with the standard literature and/or methods of the subject. A third class answer constitutes at least a minimal attempt to answer the question posed, but the answer may omit key points and/or contain assertions not supported by appropriate evidence. It may display superficiality in understanding and/or the use of material, an over reliance on knowledge at the expense of development or argument, analysis or discussion, and it may lack continuity, or be inadequately organised. Nonetheless, the work at this level does show an ability to refer to some standard sources, ideas, methods or techniques applied in the subject and to achieve some success in solving problems or marshalling an argument to reach aconclusion.
What differentiates a third class piece of work from one that fails is that a third comprises an attempt to answer the
question in formed by some relevant information while a fail either does not contain an adequate attempt to answer the question, or does not contain sufficient relevant information.
Work at Third class level will tend to posses some or all of the following positive characteristics:
• Attempts to answer the question
• Shows modest evidence of understanding of the topic
• Shows modest evidence of relevant reading and research
• Includes a few relevant ideas
• May include some relevant examples
Work at Third class level will tend to posses some or all of
the following negative characteristics:
• The attempt to answer the question may not be very
successful
• Does not contain a sufficiently well-structured argument
• Does not offer sufficient evidence to justify assertions
• Does not include sufficient relevant examples
• Lacks lucidity
• Contains one or more important errors
Fail (0-39)
The fail grade is sometimes broken down into two bands: F1 and F2. An answer at the F1 level (30-39) represents a failure to answer the question adequately, but the possession of at least some relevant information. The failure to provide an appropriate answer may be due to a misunderstanding of the question, or to one or more of the following deficiencies: it may contain only a small amount of relevant information, the material itself may have been misunderstood, the answer may be poorly or incoherently presented, or the answer may not relate to the question asked.

An answer at the F2 level (0-29) normally contains no or only the most minimal amount of information relating to the question, or may demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the question, or a misunderstanding of the material irrelevant to its answer such as to render the answer meaningless. Work at fail level tends to have few positive characteristics, except possibly when the grade has been awarded because of the inclusion of a major error, the presence of which is sufficiently important to outweigh any positive features of the answer. It is also possible for an otherwise good piece of work to be awarded a fail grade because it fails to answer the question posed. The absence of positive characteristics could also result from the fact that the answer is short (e.g. when a student runs out of
time in an examination and writes very little).
Work awarded a fail grade tends to possesses some or all of the following negative characteristics:
• Represents a failure to answer the question (though may
be an answer to a different question)
• Shows no or only a little evidence of understanding of
the topic
• Shows no or only a little evidence of relevant reading
and research
• Includes no or very few relevant ideas
• Does not contain a structured argument
• Does not offer evidence to justify assertions
• Does not include relevant examples

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