photo of students sitting outside working on laptops

Grading Policy

All final grades are submitted through the NEST. During the semester faculty are contacted through their University email to set up and confirm student rosters and faculty identification and PIN. Be sure to respond to these email notices and follow through on them. Grades can be submitted online anytime over several days, though the close date is hard and firm.

If you do not submit your grades on time, you will need to submit each student’s grade individually, and get approval from the chair, the dean, and the provost.  This is a time-consuming process at the end of the semester.  Keep in mind that the deadline is often at 9 am, which is unexpected and easy to miss.

Final Grading Policy

  • Grades will be fair and consistent.
  • Grading will be in accordance with criteria and distribution detailed in the syllabus.  Students should be able to understand how each individual grade, as well as the final grade, is determined.
  • Faculty should also consult (and suggest their students consult) the program’s grading Criteria for benchmarks and detailed descriptions of A, B, C, D, and F papers.
  • Distribution systems for determining grades (i.e., x percent for essays, y percent for portfolio, z percent for homework, etc) should reflect First-Year Writing’s policy that final essay grades and the portfolio grade compose 85-90% of the final course grade.

Description of A, B, C, D, and F Final Grades

Overall Guidelines:

To some extent, your class GPAs will vary from semester to semester, class to class.  That said, in general most students will receive B and C grades, with outliers receiving A’s and D’s—in other words, many more B’s and C’s than A’s and D’s.  The proportion of F grades is mostly dependent on how many students make private decisions to drop out (without actually withdraw) by not meeting expectations.  That can really vary, but is typically easy for instructors to assess.

  •  A. Students whose essays are consistently strong in all of the areas identified by the Program criteria should receive A’s. A’s are reserved for those students who write quite well, and whose work is genuinely impressive to us as readers, not simply as teacher-readers. These students have demonstrated themselves to be excellent writers.
  •  B. Students whose essays are consistently strong in most criteria areas and adequate in all criteria areas should receive B’s. These students have demonstrated themselves to be good or very good writers.
  •  C. Students whose essays are acceptable—moderately developed and reasonably organized, and generally make a point, if not a particularly compelling one, should receive C’s. These students have demonstrated themselves to be fair writers.
  •  D. Students whose essays may succeed in one or two areas, but which are not successful in two or more areas, should receive D’s.  For example, a D writer may write in a lively and clear style—nice paragraphs or sentences, perhaps—but seldom is the point carried through from beginning to end.  Or, a D writer may have a basic point and have a few great moments of insight, but is significantly confusing in his syntax, grammar, or style, so much so that a reader is in fact unclear about the meaning of some sentences.  Or, a D writer may write minimally, dashing off a quick, brief draft that isn’t particularly wrong, but reads like an in-class paper written by a high school student.  These students have demonstrated themselves to be weak writers.  A D grade tells a student that s/he is not writing up to university expectations.  (Recall that a 2.0 GPA is required to retain good standing.)
  •  F.  A F grade is often a result of failure to complete work or expectations, but an F can is be earned by a student whose essays do not meet minimum standards on most of the criteria. If at the end of a semester you read a student’s work and you say to yourself, “There’s no way this student is writing like a college student and I’d be embarrassed to say he passed my class,” that student is a candidate for an earned F.

Note: These are descriptions of final grade attributes. For guidelines on grading specific papers and benchmark papers, please see Student Writing Assessment.

Midterm Grades/Early Alert System

By request of the provost, submit midterm grades for students earning a C- or below.

Grades of IN (Incomplete)

Incomplete grades should be given out rarely. Incomplete grades should be given out, at student request, in situations where a student is doing passing work and then, because of some unexpected event (a death, an illness, a catastrophe, etc.) is unable to do work for a period of a few weeks. The purpose of the Incomplete is to allow students to do the reading and writing that they were unable to do during their incapacity.

First-Year Writing faculty may not give grades of incomplete without permission from the First-Year Writing Director or Associate Director. This is simply because we have such high turnover that we have had problems with Incomplete grades being given out by instructors who we can no longer be reached after the semester is over. If a faculty member has a case that warrants an Incomplete, contact the director or associate director.  If the director or associate director agrees to the Incomplete, the faculty member will also need to do the following:

  • Complete an Incomplete contract specifying exactly what needs to be done (available in the First-Year Writing program office).
  • Have this form signed off on by the faculty member, the student, and the First-Year Writing Director.
  • Write a brief memo detailing the grade-to-date (grades on all completed work as well as grades for anything else that is specified in the syllabus, i.e., participation) and the percentage weight of the work that is still to be completed; submit it with the contract. The accompanying memo should provide enough information on the student’s grade to date to allow the director to assign a final grade if, by chance, the part-time faculty member were to become unavailable.

Policy on Withdrawal Grades

The provost has published a revised policy on withdrawal grades. Essentially students can withdraw without discussion with you up until the 9th week of classes. After that, students appeal not to the instructor but to the Dean of Students’ Office.

Policy on Change of Grade Requests

Increasingly, students are pressuring instructors to submit a change of grade if the grade earned will cause them hardship. In general, grades should not be changed once they are submitted and such changes are discouraged. Outside circumstances such as loss of scholarship, loss of financial aid, academic probation, or parental displeasure, although potentially heartbreaking, are not valid reasons for granting a change of grade. Instructor error such as miscalculation of the grade is a valid reason. In all other situations, use your discretion and good judgment.  Change of grade forms are available only through the director or associate director.