Successful writers carefully take into account the rhetorical situation (purpose, audience, persona) in which their writing will function, developing the compositional elements (content, organization, style, and form) in response to the demands and boundaries set by the particular writing task.
Rhetorically aware and effective writing thus cannot be reduced to a formula, but is better conceptualized and assessed as the dynamic play of the writer’s choices among the available composing strategies.
The descriptions below aim to help students explore this dynamic through listing and reflecting on some traditional terms from the field of rhetoric and composition. By distributing these criteria in class and including them in discussions of grading and evaluation, instructors can help maintain consistent evaluation standards among and within PWR sections.
A/Excellent. Writing is of consistently outstanding quality, addressing a complex and significant topic and successfully handling the interaction among topic, audience, purpose, and persona in relation to content, organization, style, and form.
Topic: a clearly defined and significant subject, carefully introduced and consistently explored in informative ways
Audience: a sophisticated understanding of the readers' values, assumptions, and expectations
Purpose: a carefully articulated, achievable aim or aims.
Persona: a rhetorical stance and voice that serve the purpose and appeal effectively to the audience
Content: sustained arguments that are well-supported with multiple forms of evidence and "good reasons," fully developed with appropriate strategies (and in research-based writing demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of and ability to use, evaluate, and integrate a wide range of source materials)
Organization: a clear and imaginative structure or pattern that provides coherence, leads the audience from idea to idea, clarifying relationships and connections, and shows a mature awareness of genre
Style: varied and forceful sentences, purposeful and apt diction, and appropriate and carefully-nuanced tone that expresses the personality (ethos) of the writer and engages the audience
Form: strong control of the conventions of academic discourse: format, syntax, paragraph structure, punctuation, mechanics, diction, documentation; the control is strong enough to allow the writer to push the boundaries of the conventions in imaginative and effective ways.
B/Good. Writing is of consistently good quality, addressing an appropriate and significant topic and competently handling the interaction among topic, audience, purpose, and persona in relation to content, organization, style, and form.
C/Adequate. Writing is of satisfactory quality, addressing an acceptable topic and adequately handling the interaction among topic, audience, purpose, and persona in relation to content, organization, style, and form.
D/Weak. Writing is of poor quality, addressing a vague or unwieldy subject and inadequately handling the interaction among topic, audience, purpose, and persona in relation to content, organization, style, and form.
NP/Failing. Writing does not respond to the assignment or is not submitted on time.