Home‎ > ‎

DES Writing Criteria

Faculty use a shared evaluation system for assessing the quality of students' formal writing based on department-wide criteria. This does not mean that every instructor must use this framework for every piece of student writing. It does mean that faculty agree to use some shared criteria to evaluate student work. A consistent evaluation system helps students internalize the criteria for effective performance. If students experience different evaluative criteria as they go from one class to the next, they quite rightly develop the idea that those criteria are a matter of the instructors' taste. Rather than developing a strong sense of good writing, students focus on figuring out what the instructor wants. This lack of consistency on the part of faculty can be a major reason for students' failure to show cumulative progress in their development as writers as well as a reason for their failure to be reflective and skilled at self-assessment.

DES evaluation goals:

  • Instructors agree to use a shared set of criteria and standards to evaluate student writing.
  • Instructors develop some common language and nomenclature for evaluating student writing.
  • Instructors use common evaluation rubrics which incorporate the departmental criteria and standards, and modify the rubrics to suit different writing assignments. 

DES Shared Writing Assessment Criteria:

Audience and voice


       connection between writer and reader

Purpose and accuracy

    ideas are accurate

     focus is clear

     ideas introduced are relevant to the assignment

     relevant ideas are supported by details

     quality of ideas

     knowledge of subject

     use of sources

Critical thinking


        analysis of ideas

        synthesis of concepts



Clarity and Efficiency of Writing

     information is clear and coherent

     demonstrates appropriate style and form

     paragraphing is sound

     use of appropriate vocabulary


     logical sequencing and easy to follow

     creates a coherent whole

     transitions are clear and help the flow between sections

Mechanics, Usage, Grammar, Spelling

     correct spelling

     correct use of punctuation

     correct use of pronouns

     correct use of possessives

     correct word usage

     verb tense agreement

     avoids using slang terms and phrases

     avoids overuse of terms