Assignments and grading

There will be multiple assignments over the course of the semester. All are designed to assist students in achieving the goals of the course. Some assignments may emphasize one or more goals to a greater degree than the others, but students will find that most assignments require the integration of several of their developing skills.

The assignments for the course are as follows:

Writing assignments

Essays written outside of class:

Assignment Length Points
Personal political essay (due 9/2, 9/13) 500 – 750 words 100
First Op-Ed piece (due 9/30) maximum 800 words 110
Second Op-Ed piece (due 11/4) maximum 800 words 120
Article review (due 11/11) 1000 – 1250 words 120
Sourced essay (due 12/2) 1250 – 1750 words 150

You will also write a total of three timed essays during class sessions (on 10/4, 10/18, and 11/25). Of these, I will count the best two. Each will be worth 75 points, or a total of 150 for the two.

Additional assignments

There will be two additional assignments, designed to help you manage and present your work:

Assignment Points
Annotated bibliography (due 11/18) 100
Online portfolio (due 12/11) 150

Extra credit opportunities

Students may earn a maximum of 50 extra credit points doing either or both of the following:

  • Attend and write a brief reflection paper on the Christian Culture lecture, titled “Civic Healing and Christian Virtue in the 21st Century” (maximum 25 points). This year’s lecturer is Krista Tippett, host of National Public Radio’s On BeingPlease note that you must have a ticket for this event, though tickets are available free of charge.
  • Attend and write a brief reflection paper on an intellectual or cultural event of
    your choice (maximum 25 points).

What about late work?

Late work will be docked 5% of the total possible point value for the assignment for
each class day that it is late. If there are extenuating circumstances, it may be possible to arrange for an extension; you certainly shouldn’t hesitate to ask if circumstances beyond your control will make it impossible for you to meet a deadline. Bear in mind, however, that it’s important to talk with me well in advance of the deadline, rather than the night before the assignment is due.


Each assignment will be graded on a 100-point scale (where 93–100 = A, 90–92 = A-,
88–89 = B+, 83–87 = B, etc.), and that grade will be converted to a point total based on
the weight of the assignment.

The math is fairly straightforward. If an essay worth 120 points receives a 90, the
conversion would look like this:

90/100 = x/120

100x = 10800

x = 108

So the grade would be recorded as 108.

I do not post grades to Blackboard. You are responsible for keeping track of your own
point totals during the semester.

There are 1000 points possible for the semester. Semester grades will be assigned as

930–1000 = A

900–929 = A-

880–899 = B+

830–879 = B

800–829 = B-

780–799 = C+

730–779 = C

700–729 = C-

600–699 = D

< 600 = F