Rubric and Writing Tips

Rubric for Initial Posts (350-400 words) and Responses (at least 2 posts of 100 words)

Levels of Achievement
Criteria Exemplary Satisfactory Competent Minimal Deficient
Ideas / Evidence 2 points
Post/response to the assigned topic is fully developed, clear, and convincing.  Specific evidence and examples drawn from the reading supports ideas.
1.5 points
Post/response discusses the assigned topic clearly and cites relevant evidence, but further development or additional evidence is necessary.
1 point
Post/response to the assigned topic is partially developed and mostly clear, but does not cite specific evidence from the reading to support ideas.
.5 point
Post/response discusses the assigned topic incompletely or addresses the questions without understanding the topic.  Irrelevant or unclear examples are cited.
0 points
Post/response does not address the assigned topic or responds without mentioning any course material.
Responsiveness / Engagement 2 points
Post creatively engages with textual material and seeks out points of connection to concepts or concepts from other areas of the course and to the ideas of fellow learners. Post is thought-provoking, supportive, challenging, or reflective, and it moves forward the conversation of the course.
1.5 points
Post responds to the textual material and to the ideas of fellow learners.  Post is thought-provoking, supportive, challenging, or reflective, but it does not necessarily move the conversation of the course forward.
1 point
Post adequately engages with textual information but is not particularly thought-provoking, supportive, challenging, or reflective, and does not move the conversation of the course forward.
.5 point
Post minimally engages with textual material and is only peripherally related to ideas of the course and of fellow learners.
0 points
Post does not engage with the textual material, concepts from the course, or the ideas of fellow learners.
Language / Style 1 point
Post is clear, concise, and logically organized. While casual in voice, there are few or no mechanical errors (spelling, grammar, citations).
.5 point
Post contains essentially clear ideas, but also contains numerous mechanical errors, enough to distract the reader.
0 points
Post is unclear and disorganized, and contains many errors in mechanics and expression.
Final Total  _______  / 5

 Writing Tips

Ideas and Evidence

Responses to the Study Question  and to fellow participants’ posts should express ideas that are:

  • developed
    • What is the main idea I’m trying to express? Does that main point answer the topic under discussion? Did I develop the idea fully and consider possible counter-arguments? Have I explained my idea thoroughly avoiding leaps in logic?
  • clear
    • Is my idea clearly expressed? Can someone unfamiliar with the topic pick out the main point? Will those familiar with the topic be able to follow the logic of my argument and understand the relevance of the details I have included?
  • supported
    • Does my main idea have backing and evidence from the text?  Are the citations and details I have used relevant to my main argument? Have I cited the text correctly?

 Responsiveness and Engagement

Responses to the Study Question  and to fellow participants’ posts should be:

      • relevant
        • Does my post address the topic and/or concerns being discussed in the thread?  Does it contribute positively and constructively to the conversation?
      • responsive
        • Does my post take into consideration the ideas expressed by other participants in the discussion? Does it incorporate ideas from previous discussions and topics from the course?
      • collegial
        • Does my post maintain a respectful and courteous tone? Does it respond generously to others’ ideas, even if it is critical of those ideas?  Does my critique focus on the idea under discussion and avoid “getting personal”?

Language and Style

Responses to the Study Question  and to fellow participants’ posts can be casual, meaning some informal or conversational elements, such as contractions, use of the second-person, etc. are acceptable.  To maintain an academic tone, however, the posts should be:

  • mechanically correct
    • Did I proofread my post and correct any errors of grammar or syntax (spelling, punctuation, etc.)?  Are the citations accurate?
  • clear
    • Are my ideas expressed in a straightforward manner?  Are there places where I can simplify my vocabulary or sentence structure in order to improve clarity?

 A Note on Citing Ancient Texts

Classical texts use a particular method of citation: [Author], [Title] [Book/Section if applicable].[Line #cited if applicable]

So, if we wanted to cite Seneca’s Thyestes  we would use, for example, “Seneca, Thyestes 535″ because tragedies only have line numbers. To cite Petronius’ Satyrica on the other hand we would use, for example, “Petronius, Satyrica 35.3″ providing both the section and line numbers.

If the context is clear from a previous citation you may just cite, for example, line numbers in the case of Seneca’s Thyestes, section and line numbers in the case of Petronius’ Satyrica, or book and section numbers in the case of the Tacitus’ AnnalesUltimately you want to make sure that the reader knows to which text you are referring, and can navigate to that particular passage should he or she so desire.


  1. Seneca opens his Thyestes with the shade of Tantalus referring to himself by his punishment rather than his name: “Who drags forth from the underworld the one who snatches at vanishing food with his greedy mouth?” (Quis inferorum sede ab infausta extrahit avido fugaces ore captantem cibos? 1-2)
  2. The description of Trimalchio’s entrance (32.1-4) is one of the most humorous passages in all of the Satyrica.

Include citations for references the text that are directly quoted (1) or paraphrased (2).

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