William Blattner

Professor of Philosophy

Statement of Grading Policy: Introduction to Philosophy

Updated Feb., 2010

In this document I will cover several issues touching on my grading policies for my Introduction to Philosophy (Phil. 20), including:

How to Understand the Meaning of Your Grade

I adhere to the following grading rubric in assigning grades to your paper. (If you are enrolled in a course with a teaching assistant, he or she will adhere to this rubric as well). The easiest way to think of the grading scale is like this:

Complex cases, in which, for example, a paper excels along one dimension and is inadequate along another, will be handled on a case by case basis.

Thus, in general, we may characterize several salient points in the grading scale thus:

A: excellent along most or all of the dimensions: the core required elements, prose style, force of argumentation, organization.

B+: very strong along most or all of the dimensions.

B-: adequate along all the dimensions.

C+: deficient along one (or more) of the dimensions.

C-: markedly deficient along one or more of the dimensions.

D: very seriously deficient. You should seek immediate consultation with me (or your teaching assistant).

F: You either did not turn in the assignment, or what you did turn in was not worthy of credit.

Note that if your grade was reduced due to lateness, you should read this information in reference to the grade prior to the lateness penalty.

Core Required Elements

Among the core required elements are these:

How Your Final Grade Will Be Calculated

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

The University uses a standardized grading system published in the Undergraduate Bulletin, on the Web at: http://www.georgetown.edu/undergrad/bulletin/regulations3.html#grades. This system is mathematically equivalent to the following scale, which I use (because it's easier to use round numbers!):

A 12
A- 11
B+ 10
B 9
B- 8
C+ 7
C 6
C- 5
D+ 4
D 3
F 0

Calculating the Final Grade

For each of my courses, there is an announced formula for grading. I will simply take the result of that formula to determine your grades. I will take a second look at students who are very close to qualifying for a higher grade. Relevant considerations include class participation, evidence of considerable improvement, and other "intangibles."

What Improvement Can Do For You

The announced grading formula for your course already takes improvement into consideration by increasing the weight of assignments as the semester progresses. You are probably as good a calculator as I am. You can figure out "the best you can hope for" by plugging in the numbers. Enter A's for yourself for each assignment that isn't due yet, and see what pops out. Also, as explained immediately above, improvement might help, if you are extremely close to rounding up to the next grade.

Academic Honesty

In accordance with university policy, any suspected cases of academic dishonesty will be turned over to the Honor Council for investigation. If the Honor Council confirms that a violation of the Honor Code has taken place, the violator will receive an "F" grade for the course (not just the assignment).

Note: I use the term "benchmark," rather than "average," because I do not curve grades. If everyone in the class writes a B+ paper, everyone will get B+'s. If everyone writes a C paper, everyone will get C's.

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