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Civility Campaign Essay Contest
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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, and thoughtfulness.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Essay Contest

Guidelines and Rules

How Essays Will Be Evaluated

Submit Your Essay!

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