Grading Rubrics for Discussion Assignments

Students currently enrolled in SPC 3544: be sure to go on Canvas for the most accurate and updated information

To recap what this assignment is about (also see full syllabus):

Why you are asked to do this: Students will have the opportunity to complete four discussion assignments during the semester, corresponding to the four units of this course. The purpose of these assignments is to give you the opportunity to: (a) apply the concepts we’ve learned in real-world scenarios so that you become a savvy information consumer, (b) creatively use the content from the course so that you become a responsible and capable creator of influence-based messages, and (c) improve your writing skills so that you become a better communicator.

The logistics: To do achieve these purposes, each discussion assignment includes two parts. Part 1 of each assignment contains ten questions that ask for short answers. You will be asked to define concepts, compare concepts, or discuss how cases from the real-world information environment illustrate a concept. Part 2 of each assignment contains one prompt that asks you to creatively use your insights and elaborate on your ideas in 800-1000 words (in the first two assignments you will write a formal essay, and in the following two assignments you will write a persuasive campaign proposal).

Each assignment will be available to you on Canvas three weeks before the due date. If you have questions about an assignment, seek guidance at least one week before the due date (also, see guidelines on emails above). The assignments should be typed in a Word document, cited in the APA style, and uploaded to Canvas according to the due dates noted on the course schedule.

Grading:

Only the best three assignments out of four will be used to compute the final grade.


Part 1 of each discussion assignment contains ten questions asking for short answers. Each short answer is worth 2 points (accumulating to a total of 20 points in Part 1). Grades for each short answer are earned as follows.

Tips on how to read the grading rubrics: Compare how great answers, okay answers, and 0-point answers are different. This should solve your question “Why did I get points deducted?”

2 points = The answers show great understanding of course content. To earn full points:

  • When asked to define concepts, provide accurate and complete definitions
  • Know the differences between two related concepts when asked to compare them
  • Read the real-world cases (e.g., a news article, a speech) provided in the question carefully. Be able to pin-point specific languages, visuals, or designs through which real-world cases illustrate a concept
  • When asked to explain phenomena or processes, root your explanations in lectures and readings in this course, not personal opinions or anecdotes

1 point = The answers show some understanding but are missing the target. They:

  • Provide definitions that are correct but incomplete, missing one or more elements
  • Show surface-level understanding of how concepts compare with each other or miss one or more elements of how they differ
  • Show efforts in making connections between course concepts and real-world cases, but the application of course concepts is overstretched or not well-justified
  • Mention course content when asked to explain phenomena or processes, but the reasoning is weak

0 point = The answers lack understanding of course content. They:

  • Provide inaccurate definitions of concepts
  • Muddle concepts when asked to compare them
  • Make inaccurate connections between course concepts and the real-world cases
  • Make statements that are overly general, vague, or solely based on personal opinions or anecdotes when asked to explain phenomena or processes

If a question is left unanswered, it will automatically receive 0 point.


Part 2 of each discussion assignment has one prompt that is worth 40 points. This prompt asks you to creatively use your insights and elaborate on your ideas in 800-1000 words. Grades are earned as follows.

Again, compare the how excellent work, good work, okay work, and below average work differ to help you do well in your assignment.

40 points (equivalent to A) = Excellent. Excellent work need not be perfect, but it must:

  • be original, creative, and accurate
  • engage with course content in a way that thoroughly explains concepts and demonstrates how multiple concepts work together to support your idea
  • make strong arguments that are backed up by multiple evidence from lectures, readings, or other academic evidence (limited to research articles from Web of Science and research findings from Gallup and Pew Research Center)
  • have a clear structure including a thesis statement, topic sentences for paragraphs, and a conclusion

37 points (equivalent to A-) = Good. Good work:

  • is accurate
  • makes frequent efforts to engage with course content
  • makes clear arguments that are backed up by evidence
  • has a clear structure including a thesis statement, topic sentences for paragraphs, and a conclusion

34 points (equivalent to B) = Okay. Okay work:

  • is mostly accurate but contains one or two instances where discussions of course content are inaccurate
  • contains parts that engage with course content
  • mostly makes evidence-backed arguments, but occasionally the argument is weak, lacks supporting evidence, or is incoherent
  • follows a reasonable structure but lacks clarity in one or more areas including a thesis statement, topic sentences for paragraphs, and a conclusion

30 points (equivalent to C) = Below average. Below average work:

  • contains more than two instances where discussions of course content are inaccurate
  • seldom engages with course content
  • has weak arguments not backed up by evidence or relies on personal opinions or anecdotes
  • has a structure that is hard to follow

Work that has systematic issues in citation, spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, or word count will have an additional 3 points taken off the point it receives according to above rubrics.


Discussion assignments that do not meet the deadline will be assessed a 10% penalty for every 24 hours following the deadline.