How Essays Will Be Evaluated
Essays submitted by March 19, 2012 will be evaluated by raters selected from the University
of Memphis faculty, staff, and students. Members of the reading panel will recuse
themselves from evaluating any essays of students they know personally. Using the
criteria described below, the panel will select first, second, and third place essays.
The decisions of the reading panel are final. The three winners will be announced
on April 2, 2012. Excerpts from the first place essay may be published in The Daily Helmsman.
Essays will be evaluated based on the six criteria outlined below.
- Thesis/Argument: Examines whether the essay has a clear point to make in direct response to the main
question in the prompt: "How does the individual's choice to practice daily civility
affect society at large?" Does the essay present a focused position that is sustained
throughout? An excellent thesis will be concise in statement and complex in thought.
- Organization: Concerns the overall structure of the essay. Does the essay have a beginning, middle,
and end? An excellent essay will have an introduction, well-connected body paragraphs,
and a conclusion. Strong organization includes a well-articulated thesis and develops
an argument paragraph by paragraph, building towards the conclusion.
- Supporting Evidence: Considers how--and how well--the essay supports its main argument. It addresses these
three directives from the prompt: "Be specific. Choose the context. Define the terms."
Are the examples and evidence relevant? Specific to University of Memphis culture?
Are the central terms defined? The persuasion in the essay will emerge from the strength
of your supporting evidence and the effectiveness of the examples offered.
- Originality: Looks for creativity in writing. Does the essay address the goals of the prompt from
an original point of view? An excellent essay will address the main question in the
prompt from a perspective that includes observation, personal experience, self-reflection,
- Engagement: Considers how well the essay engages the reader. Is the essay compelling, thought-provoking,
does it offer new ideas or ways of thinking about civility on the college campus?
An excellent essay will capture the reader's attention immediately and sustain it
throughout the reading.
- Presentation: Examines how well the essay is written in terms of mechanics: grammar, spelling,
and punctuation, word choice, and syntax. An excellent essay will use Standard Written
English, MLA format, be free from mechanical errors, and demonstrate evidence of attentive
proof-reading and editing.