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Guide to Writing at Stetson University

This guide is designed for students and faculty to use as a resource for what “good college writing” looks like—and how students can achieve it—and how faculty can encourage it.

The Four Point Scale

Example 1: The Four Point Scale

A four point composition will have a meaningful purpose; it will shape that purpose to suit the intended audience. Its central idea will be interesting, significant, and clear. Instead of treating the topic simplistically, it will respond to the reservations or different viewpoints that may be present in its audience. Because it responds to the complexities of its subject, the writer’s structure is supple: it remains clear without becoming a cookie-cutter. It uses single-topic paragraphs that develop their central ideas with adequate information or argument. Its use of detail is specific, pointed, and interesting. It uses efficient sentences consistently, and sometimes elegant or powerful ones; it conforms throughout to the conventions of Edited American English.

A three point composition has a recognizable purpose and a sense of its audience’s needs. A reader will readily recognize and understand its central idea and its ramifications. It treats the subject matter fully, with no major omissions or digressions. The argument is substantial, and the writer organizes the material clearly if perhaps somewhat conventionally. The composition e mploys  single-topic paragraphs developed with specific details.  It uses effective sentences and generally conforms to the conventions of Edited American English.

A two point composition leaves its purpose somewhat cloudy, or perhaps loses track of that purpose for a while along the way. The writer may not be sufficiently attentive to the audience’s needs or beliefs. The central idea is likely to be either unclear or unsurprising. The composition may need more ideas to make its point effectively, or it may have included irrelevant ideas. The organization is likely to be both predictable and not well-suited to the topic; or perhaps the writer’s structure may ignore important sub-topics. The paragraphs and sentences are cookie cutters. Its use of Edited American English is marred by one or two consistent errors.

A one point composition has a major flaw affecting one or more of its rhetorical elements. The writer may misjudge the audience’s needs seriously or jump the rails of the specified purpose. The central idea is probably quite vague or perhaps fragmented. There may be significant gaps in its argument or major flaws in the logic that organizes its structure. The paragraphs in the composition may consistently switch topics; the sentences may be cumbersome or overloaded with mechanical errors.

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