Student Learning Outcomes: Criteria for Assessment

Criteria for Assessment

An undergraduate learning experience in methods of literary analysis from a comparative perspective on the advanced level, either at Barnard College, Columbia University, an approved foreign institution or at a student's former institution, is required.

  • Does the senior writing project demonstrate the ability to scrutinize literary texts from the perspective of genre, theme, character, narrative point of view, structure, imagery, style, cultural identity or theory?
  • Does the project demonstrate proficiency in the methods of literary analysis and exegesis (e.g., relationship between theme and representational strategy; intellectual issue and socio-historical or geo-cultural context)?
  • Does the project clearly identify an issue worthy of sustained critical discussion and show the student’s awareness of the relevant tasks?
  • Does the project discuss how selected texts fit into larger social, historical, cultural, and aesthetic traditions?
  • Does the work effectively compare and contrast themes, issues, and aesthetic treatments across texts and across cultural traditions?
  • Does the work demonstrate knowledge of theoretical concepts and approaches to critical interpretation?
  • Does the oral presentation adequately reflect the findings and main issues presented in the senior essay?

Procedures for Assessment

Students submit the following writing projects and give an oral presentation in their senior year:

  • A prospectus (2-3 pp.) and analytical paper (min. 30 pp.) which comparatively examines a chosen category (eg., intellectual issues, questions of cultural perspective, formal features) across at least two literary and cultural traditions, including non-American and non-European traditions.
  • An oral presentation that summarizes the main findings and thus reflects the learning outcome through the process of synthesizing ideas.

The senior essay and oral presentation must satisfy all of the above-stated criteria.

Comparative Literary Analysis Assessment Standards

(A level of 3 is necessary to fulfill the built-in assessment.)

5. Exemplary

The senior essay meets all of the criteria stated above. The work demonstrates an exceptional competence in using tools of literary and comparative cultural analysis. Interpretations of the texts are original, unique, and thoughtful. They are clearly, coherently, and logically presented and strongly supported by compelling evidence, demonstrating excellent knowledge of different literary and cultural traditions and awareness of prevalent literary and cultural theories. A central thesis, conflict, or issue is identified and clearly developed. The essay also displays a very knowledgeable and skillful use of sources in its comparison of sources and their analysis. Written and oral communication projects are focused, organized, and skillfully presented according to the applicable writing and speaking conventions. Errors in spelling, punctuation, mechanics, and usage are rare.

4. Very Good

The essay meets all of the criteria stated above. The work demonstrates a strong competence in using tools of literary and comparative analysis. Interpretations of the texts are clear and coherent, follow a logical line of inquiry and are supported by evidence. They demonstrate a good knowledge of different literary and cultural traditions and awareness of prevalent literary and cultural theories. The essay is persuasively written and has a clear focus. It uses more than adequate sources in its analysis. Written and oral communication projects are focused, organized, and competently presented according to the applicable writing and speaking conventions. Errors in spelling, punctuation, mechanics, and usage do not impede understanding.

3. Satisfactory

The essay meets most of the criteria stated above. The work demonstrates effort at using tools of literary and comparative analysis. Interpretations of texts are mostly coherent and quite clearly expressed but not always persuasively presented. They are supported by some evidence and demonstrate the basic knowledge of different literary and cultural traditions and awareness of prevalent literary and cultural theories. The essay still has focus and uses sufficient sources, but it would benefit from revisions. Written and oral communication projects are mostly focused, adequately organized, and competently presented according to the applicable writing and speaking conventions. Errors in spelling, punctuation, mechanics, and usage occur but do not yet impede a general understanding of the main ideas.

2. Needs Improvement

The essay meets only some of the criteria stated above. The work demonstrates a need for greater competence at using literary and comparative analytical tools. Interpretations of the texts are not always transparent; they lack coherence, are less persuasive and logical and central ideas may need to show more support of evidence. The work demonstrates a need to learn more about different literary and cultural traditions and to develop an awareness of prevalent literary and cultural theories. The essay has some focus. There may be a strong need to use more sources to support the argument. It also may need work on adequate use of sources. Written and oral communication projects may need more focus, better organization, and to be more competently presented according to the applicable writing and speaking conventions. Errors in spelling, punctuation, mechanics, and usage impede understanding.