Writing Across the Campus: General Education Assessment

Definitions of Criteria Used on General Education Assessment Rubric

Issue identification and focus

The issue addressed in the paper is appropriate, clearly identified, and thorough described. Focus on the issue is maintained consistently. The writer does not wander off the topic.

Clarity and coherence

The paper is well and clearly organized, with appropriate attention to the needs of the reader and all elements of coherence carefully observed. Specific factors involved in this criterion are (a) order, (b) paragraph unity, and (c) transitions.


Ideas are arranged in a logical order.

Paragraph Unity

Each paragraph focuses clearly on one and only one idea.


Transitional phrases and sentences help the reader follow the writer’s train of thought.


Ideas are fully support with specific, sufficient, and relevant details. The details in question may be facts, statistics, expert opinions, thorough explanations, etc.


A sufficient number of appropriate sources are used. Appropriate sources are ones that are relevant to the research question, appropriately current, and authoritative.

Information Use

The writer effectively communicates, organizes, and synthesizes information from sources. The writer uses correctly all of the information-use strategies, which are

  • accurately citing secondary sources,
  • appropriately using paraphrases, summaries, and quotations,
  • using information in ways that are true to the original context,
  • distinguishing between common knowledge and ideas that require attribution.


The writer positions his or her own perspective within a larger context and shows awareness of the assumptions on which his or her own and others’ claims are based. The larger context may be cultural/historical, educational/experiential, ethical, global, political/economic, scientific/technical.


Conclusions are logical and reflect the students’ informed evaluation.

Sentence-level Clarity

The writer uses graceful language that skillfully communicates meaning to readers with clarity and fluency, and is virtually free of errors in grammar, mechanics, usage, and syntax.

  • “Grammar” refers to the deep structure of language.
  • “Mechanics” refers to spelling, capitalization, and punctuation
  • “Syntax” refers to word order.
  • “Usage” refers primarily to word choice.