21W.777 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

Science Writing in Contemporary Society


Grading Policy

On first drafts, you’ll receive a grade, ample comments from me as well as comments from classmates.

  • Essay 2, the Investigative Essay, must be revised; Essays 1 and 3 may be revised.
  • For the Investigative Essay and any other essay that is graded twice, the first draft will count for 40% of the grade, and the 2nd draft will count for 60% of the grade for that assignment.
  • All work is to be presented at the end of the semester in a Portfolio, including a cover letter

Grading breakdown

Science in/and Culture Essay 20%
Investigative Essay 35%
Book Review Essay 25%
Reading Journal 5%
Book Talk 5%
Class participation (includes meaningful participation in workshops) 10%

Late drafts

  • 1st drafts that are late or incomplete* will be penalized by a half grade for each day late.
  • Revision deadline may be negotiated for good cause.

*What I mean by incomplete:

  • For Essays 1 and 3, a draft that is short by more than a full page
  • For the Investigative Essay, a draft that is short by more than 2 full pages, and/or a draft that does not include citations both in the text and in a list of References.

What “A” work likes like

A work is excellent: the content goes beyond the simple and commonplace—it may give readers some news, surprise them, or help them see something familiar in a new way. The writing is confident, energetic, essentially free of error, with the sound of an individual writer’s voice. It is clear—lucidity, lucidity, lucidity! (Hancock) and appropriately researched. It is well focused and organized, and does not settle for the surface layer of the topic. It cites sources consistently and appropriately. It takes the reader into account throughout.

What “B” writing looks like

B work is solid, competent, on the right track. It may be not quite up to “A” level in most aspects, or it may excel in some aspects but fall short in others.

What “C” writing looks like

“C” work satisfies the assignment but is unclear in several places, is unfocused and/or weakly organized, contains some inaccuracies, cites inconsistently, stays on the surface of the topic, settles for clichés rather than fresh and vivid language, and/or contains a significant number of grammar errors. It does not successfully or consistently take readers into account. It lacks a central idea, or the idea is hard for readers to discern.

Grading: the nitty-gritty

Grades are based on a 4-point scale:

A = 4 points
A- = 3.7
B+ = 3.3
B = 3
B- = 2.7
C+ = 2.3
C = 2
C- = 1.7
D = 1
F = 0

Class participation counts for 10% of your final grade. It covers attendance, coming to class prepared, participating in discussion and workshops in class, workshop comments in writing on partners’ drafts. I will assign this grade at the end of the semester.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments