Dr. Natalie Grinnell

Reeves Family Professor in Humanities


Grading Policies

Each course syllabus provides a grade breakdown for that course, and each assignment prompt includes that assignments requirements and specific grading criteria.  There are,  however, some policies that apply regardless of the individual course or assignment, and it is these that are listed here.

Non-Negotiable Requirements for Essays

The link above leads of a list of minimal requirements for all formal essays written for my courses.  Reading over them carefully will assist your performance on written assignments.

What Letter Grades Say About Your Essays

For some papers, students will receive specific grading rubrics. If, however, there is no specific rubric attached to a formal writing assignment, the descriptive rubric below serves an explanation of the grade you receive on a paper:

A (90-99): Work of superior quality. Few mechanical errors. Solid argumentative and rhetorical skills.

B (80-89): Work that is quite good. Sometimes, beautifully written and well argued papers that are simply uninteresting.

C (70-79) : “Average work.” Most often papers in this category are overly simplistic. The writer fails to prove his or her argument and support the assertions made in the essay. Specific details are avoided in favor of broad generalizations. Often a paper will be mechanically correct, but fails to exhibit the analytical skill necessary for college level work or is structured like a high school paper. Or a paper may be brilliant, but the writer is mechanically sloppy. Papers with multiple mechanical errors (grammar, punctuation, usage) will never receive higher than a “C.”

D (65-69) : Work that shows some effort, originality or potential, but is not of sufficient quality for college-level courses. Most often this grade is received for good papers which do not follow the assignment or thoughtful papers which are riddled with mechanical errors.

F (0-64) : Insufficient quality for college-level work. Sometimes, a paper receives an “F” for work that does not follow the assignment, is unreadable due to mechanical errors, or is plagiarized. But most often, students receive “F”‘s because they simply fail to turn in the paper.

Humanities 101 students will find a grading rubric for their papers here.

Grading Scale

The grading scale below is used to determine final grades for all of my classes. Students may request their current course average by coming by my office; such an average, however, will not include work turned in but not yet graded. It will also not include any absence/tardiness penalties. I will not send any grades over e-mail, as this is not a secure method of communication.

A: 93-100
A-: 90-92
B+: 87-89
B: 83-86
B-: 80-82
C+: 77-79
C: 73-76
C-: 70-72
D: 65-69
F: below 65

Transforming Letter Grades into Numbers

All grades for my courses are calculated using an electronic gradebook; scores will also be entered into the Moodle gradebook, but as it does not always calculate accurately, students are welcome to consult the official gradebook during office hours. The following scale shows how letter grades awarded on papers and other assignments are translated into numerical values on a scale of 0-100.

A = at least 95, sometimes higher
A- = 92
B+ = 89
B = 86
B- = 82
C+ = 79
C = 76
C- = 72
D = 65
F = between 0 and 60, depending on my evaluation of the work.

How Much Things Count

On the first page of your syllabus is a grade breakdown, showing how much various assignments (papers, exams, quizzes) count toward your final grade.

Late Assignments

If you are unable to turn in an assignment on time because of a documented illness or family tragedy, you will not be penalized for turning in work late, provided you present your written excuse within one week of returning to class. If you must turn in work late for other reasons, you be subject to the following penalties:

  • A full letter grade (10 points out of a 100-point scale) will be deducted for each day that a formal paper is turned in late, beginning at the time that the paper is due.  For example, a paper due at 8:30am that is submitted at 10:30am on the same day will receive a one-letter-grade deduction; if the paper is submitted at 9:30am the following day, it receives a two-letter-grade deduction.
  • If a paper has not been submitted five days after the deadline, that paper’s score will revert to a zero.
  • Because of the special burden they place on other students, assignments to be peer edited may not be turned in late at all except in cases of documented illness or tragedy.  A paper to be peer edited that is not turned in by the deadline will receive a zero.  For more details on this policy, please refer to specific paper assignments.
  • 2 points will be deducted for each day that a short response or exercise is late
  • Quizzes and in-class exercises may not be made up; students may, however, replace the points lost for such assignments by doing one or more of the bonus assignments available to the class.

Rounding or Dropping Grades

As a general policy, I do not drop the lowest quiz grade in my class or round up final grades. If you look at the above scales, however, you will note that grades are already “bumped” by receiving the highest possible numerical number in the scale. This actually gives you a greater advantage than dropping a simple quiz grade.

Bonus Assignments

While I do not assign “extra credit,” you will find a series of bonus assignments on the class Moodle page.  These assignments are meant to deepen your appreciation for a subject. Bonus assignments are always available to the entire class; I do not give private assignments to individual students, as that would be unfair. To calculate extra credit, add it to the  “other” category of your total grades.

How Does Attendance Count?

Follow the link above to find the attendance policies for my courses.

Does Class Participation Count?

While active class participation is required for all of my courses, it is not graded.