As a professional in your field, you’re a subject matter expert, but it can still be difficult to grade students’ writing. CPS uses a writing paradigm called the Hierarchy of Concerns, and offers program and instructors access to holistic analytical writing rubrics which can be customized for use in your course(s).

The Hierarchy of Concerns helps students understand the most important components of effective communication, and grade on critical thinking skills and research, rather than surface level errors. Here is the Hierarchy of Concerns:

  1. Focus/Thesis: the point or central argument
  2. Development: evidence and explanation
  3. Organization: rhetorical structure and logic
  4. Paragraphs and Transitions: effectiveness and connection
  5. Style and Mechanics: grammar, word choice, punctuation

A holistic rubric that emphasizes concerns at the top of the Hierarchy of Concerns helps ensure that students are graded for how effectively they make and support arguments, rather than for incidental grammatical and mechanical errors. You can download a template holistic analytic rubric that can be adapted for the written assignments in your class here.

To learn more about using holistic analytic rubrics to assess writing in your course, watch this brief presentation by Barbara Ohrstrom, Director of CPS Writing Centers:

To learn more about revisions strategies you can offer to your students, and other ways to ensure accurate and equitable assessment of writing in your classes, contact Barbara Ohrstrom.

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