evaluating posts, comments, & essays

You are working in the realm of public art criticism, which lies somewhere in between informal blogging and the formal research articles you are reading. You can take Roger Lewis’s essays on architecture in The Washington Post as a good set of models for the essays. And the blog is working as drafting and peer response platform, so it should mimic many of those same qualities but add a conversational give and take. So how am I grading these things?


Each should be about 200-300 words, 2-3 substantive paragraphs, in which you:

  1. Highlight key concepts, terms, methods, or ideas from the assigned readings, with some specificity. You can focus on one more than others, but you should address each in some way. You’re not working for a comprehensive summary, just one or two really key concepts.
  2. Note limitations and/or uses in those frameworks/methods/concepts, especially comparatively: what does one give you that the other doesn’t? Is one more applicable that others to certain kinds of art?
  3. Apply any of these ideas to your reading of a piece of art which you have browsed, observed, and taken notes on, as assigned.

I’ll assign a whole letter grade score (on the 4.0 scale) each assigned Post for the week (i.e., whenever you are responding to a reading), then average those for the week’s grade:

  • A (4.0) does all of the above well, with specific, selected detail.
  • B (3.0) does at least 2 of those things well, the other more vaguely.
  • C (2.0) does one well, and the others vaguely.
  • D (1.0) does none very thoroughly but does address at least one.
  • F (0.0) misreads or misses the point of the assignment entirely.


These should respond specifically to your peers’ post and offer insights that move the conversation forward. Beyond simply agreeing/disagreeing, you should further or counter a point with some specificity, an example, or an alternate point of view. Four-point scale used, as above, then averaged.

  • A=very specific response, with extended counter-point or example drawing on the articles, offered in a way that encourages further conversation.
  • B=raises a question in specific response, perhaps with reference to an example, but does not necessarily play it out very far.
  • C=raises questions or offers comments that might be relevant but don’t seem clearly related to peer’s post, or seem like a non-sequitur or dead end.
  • D=only vaguely seems to respond.
  • F=neglected to comment (e.g., if you were assigned to do 2 comments and only did 1, then one will get a zero and average with the other).


Since scholarly or intellectual writing is premised on the idea of responding to prior scholarship and/or making original use of sources, my grading scheme is designed to highlight qualitative differences in those writerly tasks. As above, I use the 4.0 scale (A=4.0, A-=3.7, B+=3.3, etc.).

Tone should be knowledgeable but can also be relatively informal. Or rather, it can move back and forth, “translating” between academic and more conversational prose. You will have wide leeway on deciding on what this should look like.

Citation style: Cite fully all sources, including images, in a “References” list at the end. Reference page numbers parenthetically, MLA-style.

A = Exploits the limitations of all sources (methods & artwork or other primary source material) to forward your own interpretative agenda: to articulate an assessment of these ways of looking. Your goal is to come to terms with one or more of these methods. You may focus on one more than others, but reference other(s) to understand the one(s). Discusses in specific detail at least one key concept of the method(s) and works to apply it/them to a piece of art (or other primary source material) in specific ways. Attend to the specific uses and limitations of each framework, including limits that may be imposed by the art itself–is all art subject to the same analytical methods? Does all this in a way that produces an informed but independent point of view on the methods addressed and their value to us as “seers.”

B = Juxtaposes sources (method vs. method, or method vs. artwork) in a way that reveals some original insight, doing most of the work above, but tends to remain wholly within one or more points of view of the scholars rather than establishing a critical, independent view.

C = Ably and accurately summarizes sources without assessing them or using them to interrogate each other with any substance. May do much B level work, but may be lacking in specific detail; may remain at a more vague level.

D/F = Misconstrue sources or indicate very little engagement with them.

I may add +/- to indicate particular strengths/weaknesses w/in each grade range. Careless proof-reading, for example, will earn a 1/3 grade demotion.