Grading Standards

Language classes in French and Italian

Specific criteria and grading grids have been developed for language classes in both French and Italian. Grading grids are used for oral presentations and compositions and are distributed to all instructors (graduate students and lecturers) to assure objectivity and transparency. They are also distributed to students at the beginning of the semester who can thus prepare accordingly and understand their grade.

Parameters evaluated include both linguistics aspects of the student’s work (pronunciation, vocabulary, grammatical accuracy) as well as content and form of the oral presentation or written piece (structure and delivery style).

For upper-level classes with papers (300- 400-level)

Upper-level undergraduate courses are typically smaller size seminars that involve papers. The grading criteria for the courses are clearly articulated in the syllabus  - i.e. participation, attendance, policy for work submitted late and grade penalization, etc. For courses taught in French or in Italian, the language component is taken into consideration for grading assignments. The exact weight of the language component is determined in each course by the instructor.

An exception to this are “bridge courses” on the 200- level, in which assignments written in French or Italian are graded on a 50/50 % policy, that is 50% of the grade evaluates the content of the paper (argument, structure, ideas, comprehension of material, etc.) and 50% language proficiency. Typically instructors indicate problems with language on the first draft of the paper submitted; students are then required to rewrite their papers according to the instructors’ indications and have thus the opportunity to get a better grade.

For grading papers in 300- and 400- level courses the Department follows the general criteria articulated in the Independent Work Guidelines that have been recently revised.

Grading Standards for Papers

  • A paper in the A range demonstrates a high degree of mastery over the fundamentals of academic writing: it advances a relevant, arguable thesis; establishes a clear motive to suggest why the thesis is original or worthwhile; employs a logical and progressive structure; analyzes evidence insightfully and in depth; draws from well-chosen sources; achieves an excellent balance between synthesis of existing arguments and original analysis; and is written in a clear, sophisticated style.

  • A B-range paper resembles an A-range paper in some ways, but exhibits a vague, uninteresting, or inconsistently argued thesis; establishes a functional but unsubstantial motive for its existence; employs a generally logical but somewhat disorganized or undeveloped structure; includes well-chosen but sometimes unanalyzed and undigested evidence; uses sources in a correct but limited fashion; suffers from an unbalance between analysis and personal commentary; shows occasional use of paraphrasing; or is written in an unsophisticated or grammatically problematic style.

  • A C-range paper resembles a B-range paper in some ways, but also features a confusing, simple, or descriptive thesis; provides only a simplistic motive or one at all; lacks a coherent structure; fails to present sufficient evidence, or presents evidence that is insufficiently analyzed; drops in sources without properly contextualizing or citing them; and is written in a generally unclear, simplistic, or technically flawed style.

  • A D paper (there is no D+ or D- at Princeton) resembles a C-range paper but includes a purely descriptive or obvious thesis; lacks a motive; displays an unfocused, confusing, or rambling structure; and draws on little analyzed evidence and sources. A D paper has trouble engaging with the assignment and may not show awareness of the conventions of academic discourse and style. It does, however, show signs of attempting to engage with the issues, topics, and sources of the assignment.

  • An F paper is similar to a D paper but is significantly shorter than the assigned length and addresses the assignment superficially or not at all.

Furthermore, the Department of French and Italian has been engaging in creating innovative courses, which often come with new types of assignments. As a Department we are in the process of creating consistent criteria for grading these new types of assignments, such as creative projects, group projects, media oriented projects, etc.