Evaluating the Writing (Students' Perspective)

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When someone reads your engineering or scientific writing, that person generally evaluates the writing in three ways: what the message is (the content); how the message is presented to the readers (the style, which comprises the structure, language, and illustration); and the form of the message (format, grammar, punctuation, usage, and spelling). Table 1 shows a method for evaluating the style and form of engineering and scientific reports (in this scheme, a separate grade is given for content). In this breakdown, you earn points for successes in style (structure, language, and illustration), but stand to lose points for errors in form (format, grammar, punctuation, usage, and spelling). This scheme mimics the way that readers assess reports because readers generally notice style when there are successes (reflected by the positive scoring), but do not notice form unless there are errors (reflected by the negative scoring). The raw numerical score translates to a standard 100-point scale in the following way:

Final score = ((Raw score) * 7) + 51

As part of the evaluation process, you will receive both editing marks on your papers and a summary that highlights the major strengths and weaknesses of the writing. The summary may be an abbreviated form of Table 1 (without the page or chapter numbers) or a listing of the major strengths (one column with plus signs) and the major weaknesses (a second column with minus signs).

Table 1. Breakdown for Evaluation of Communication.
Structure 3 points (max) Organization of details (Chapter 2 in The Craft of Scientific Writing)
Transitions between sections and subsections (pages 53-59)
Depth of details (pages 59-63)
Emphasis of details (pages 63-69)
Crediting of sources
Language 3 points (max) Targeting of audience (Chapters 4, 7)
Clarity of details (Chapters 5, 6, 8)
Continuity between details (Chapter 9)
Illustration 1 point (max) Key images and tables (Chapter 10)
Introduction, explanation, placement, and captioning (Chapter 11)
Mechanics -2.5 points (max) Major errors (run-ons, fragments)
Errors (subject-verb disagreement, commas, usage, and so forth)
Minor errors (numerals minor usage,, and so forth)
Format -0.5 points (max) Typography (pages 222-226)
Hierarchy of headings (226-227)
Page numbers

Last updated 7/00
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