WRITING OUTCOMES FOR PAPERS AT GRINNELL COLLEGE
I. STRUCTURAL COHERENCE
A. Central Claim:
- The essay states a readily identifiable central claim (e.g., philosophical assertion, research finding, textual interpretation, contention), or thesis, which is supportable through evidence and argumentation. (The claim should not be a declaration of established fact or unassailable personal belief.)
- If non-analytical, the piece contains a focus or central idea that guides the structure.
- The piece maintains a unified focus, without straying into digression or divergent paths.
C. Introduction and Conclusion:
- The opening passage announces the principal question to be addressed, provides necessary context, and forecasts the essay's structure.
- The closing passage leaves the reader with a clear sense of the central claim, while synthesizing the essay's content into suggested implications, as appropriate.
- Every point stands in definable relationship to the central claim or structuring idea.
- Sentences and paragraphs form a logical progression, connected and arranged so that each part follows and builds upon what precedes it, culminating with original explication or synthesis.
- Sentences are clear, concise and varied, demonstrating a straight-forward grace and an unobtrusive fluency.
II. RHETORICAL CONVENTIONS
Writers apply the following conventions not by rote, but in service to conveying precise meaning to a particular audience.
A. Rhetorical Situation:
- The voice and rhetorical mode reflect the writer's awareness of the genre, audience, and purpose of the assignment.
- The content is presented in a precise and natural way through compelling diction that conveys an appropriate tone.
- The essay demonstrates competence in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and standard idioms of written English.
- It also conforms to established format guidelines.
- If present, quotations, footnotes, and non-narrative features (figures, equations, tables, etc.) adhere to conventional format.
D. Academic Discipline:
- As appropriate, the piece conforms to the conventions of professional writing within the specific discipline.
III. INTELLECTUAL PROCESS AND ENGAGEMENT
A. Writing Process:
- The construction of the essay indicates a thorough process of planning, drafting, revising, and proofreading.
B. Depth of thought:
- The essay reveals a mind that is curious and involved and that approaches the instructor's prompt with creativity and reflection.
- The central claim and supporting argument acknowledge implications and internal tensions of the topic, avoiding oversimplification.
- The essay attends to subtleties of language and to the complexity of the material under analysis.
E. Scholarly Conversation:
- The essay contributes to the creation of knowledge within the discipline by engaging primary and secondary sources, as necessary, and by synthesizing information into new insights.
Originally developed c. 2001 by faculty in summer writing workshops
Revised 2012, Grinnell Writing Lab