Criteria should be identified as much as possible in the written assignments and these criteria should be used to guide our responses. As we read student writing we become aware of the "hidden" criteria we need to specify in subsequent assignments.
Try experimenting with "criteria grids" in which criteria are listed and portions of credit ("points") awarded for meeting each criterion.
Usually avoid cryptic letter grades or point totals until after students have revised drafts. The presence of grades on early drafts focuses attention away from our written or oral comments, and grades force us to use our comments to justify our judgments rather than to help student improve drafts. Premature grades also end a process that should be allowed to continue.
In recognizing some student writing, such as journals and impromptu in-class work, try giving credit for quantity and regularity of work through a check or cumulative point system rather than traditional letter grades.
One goal of the evaluation process should be to have students internalize high standards for their writing. One additional way to do this is to have students participate in their own evaluation by using some type of "Self-Evaluation Form". For example:
SELF-EVALUATION FORM (Complete and Attach to Your Paper)
The articles listed below originally appeared in our Teaching with Writing Across the Curriculum newsletter.