Grading Guidelines

A: An "A" student

An "A" student has performed at a consistently excellent level in all aspects of the course.

  • Regularly contributes to the collective intellectual experience in discussion
  • Completes all reading assignments and manifests close, critical, and original readings of texts and other historical sources
  • Demonstrates superlative written communication skills and strong logical argumentation
  • Substantiates observations with convincing evidence and is able to think creatively
  • Writes critical and thoughtful papers in polished and sophisticated English, with no weaknesses in argumentation, coherence, paragraphing, grammar or syntax
  • Understands how course materials relate to one another and to larger historical questions
  • 94-100 on a 100 point scale: 4.0 on a 4 point scale

A-: An "A-" student

An "A-" student’s work is sometimes excellent and sometimes very good.

  • Regularly participates in discussions, but with less insight than a straight A student
  • Completes all reading assignments, but not quite as closely or critically as a straight A student
  • Written work is grammatically correct and structurally coherent but sometimes lacks grace, sharpness or originality
  • Use of evidence is consistently strong but not always especially sharp or imaginative
  • Powers of logical argumentation are good but not outstanding
  • Work is often thoughtful and creative, but less consistently so than straight A work; may show less understanding of how individual course materials relate to broader questions and contexts
  • 90-93 on a 100 point scale: 3.7 on a 4 point scale

B+: A "B+" student

A "B+" student fulfills all of the course requirements very well, but without special distinction.

  • Attends class and participates in discussions often, but the comments may not be especially original and do not always move discussions significantly forward
  • Completes the reading and understands it well, but does not think as critically about it as an A student, and may have a harder time understanding its significance for the course as a whole
  • Writing is good, with no consistent errors in logic, grammar and structure, but it may lack sophistication and originality
  • Use of evidence is good, but the B+ student might choose somewhat obvious examples and deploy them in relatively predictable ways
  • B+ level work is generally either creative but not fully supported, or supported but not especially creative
  • 87-89 on a 100 point scale: 3.3 on a 4 point scale

B: A "B" student

A "B" student performs solidly, but shows some room for improvement in one or all areas.

  • The B student attends class regularly, but does not always participate actively and might miss one or two classes or lectures
  • Class comments are often on target, but might sometimes be tangential and fail to move discussions forward
  • Completes most reading, but understands it at a general level: may have some trouble grasping subtleties or thinking critically about an author’s argumentation or use of evidence. May also have difficulty comparing and contrasting divergent historical arguments about the same subject
  • Writing is clear but might have small but consistent problems in logic, grammar and structure; it shows inconsistent grace and originality
  • This student can argue competently and often deploys significant evidence, but may do so inconsistently
  • Should be able to summarize well the general arguments of readings and lectures, but may not demonstrate creative grasp of course content or capacity to link specific arguments to the broader issues they connote.
  • 84-86 on a 100 point scale: 3 on a 4 point scale

B-: A "B-" student

A "B-" student probably had significant problems in one or more areas.

  • Class participation is consistently weak; while B- students do attend class and speak up sometimes, they are often unable to effectively engage discussions and do not respond to instructors’ attempts to encourage them
  • Has done enough of the reading to complete writing assignments and pass exams, but the instructor suspects that the reading is incomplete, or that the student’s understanding of it is patchy
  • Turns in all written assignments, but the quality of the writing, logic and argumentation is below average
  • Chooses and deploys evidence superficially
  • Written work may have consistent (though not disastrous) technical problems
  • Generally knows what the lectures and readings are about, but cannot move from general description to detailed summary, and is generally unable t think creatively about the course content because he or she does not understand it well
  • 80-83 on a 100 point scale: 2.7 on a 4 point scale

C: A "C" student

A "C" student has significant weakness in most course areas.

  • Completes all course assignments and attends most classes, but does not contribute to class discussions in any significant way
  • Has some familiarity with the reading, but does not show evidence of having read competently
  • Writing is problematic in one or all dimensions
  • Deploys evidence poorly, arguments are weak and unsupported
  • Creativity is not really an issue because the student has not been able to understand the course’s basic elements
  • 70-79 on a 100 point scale: 1.7-2.3 on a 4 point scale

D: A "D" student

A "D" student has completed enough of the course work to pass the course, but has either failed to complete some course assignments or completed many of them incompetently.

  • 60-69 on a 100 point scale: .7-1.3 on a 4 point scale

F: An "F" student

An "F" student has failed to complete enough course assignments to pass the class, or has completed all of them too poorly to merit a passing grade.

  • Below 60 on a 100 point scale: 0-.7 on a 4 point scale