Guilford College Writing Manual

This is the official Guilford College Writing Manual. A collaboration between the English Department and the Hege Library.

General Expectations

WHAT CONSTITUTES "A" WORK?

Although the answer will vary from professor to professor, perhaps the following anecdote will help to establish some across-the-board statements about what's involved in generating "A" quality writing.

When I taught at UCLA, I had a friend down the hall named Ed. Ed was a reading specialist and one day I asked him about how he graded college-level reading skills. What, for example, was the difference between a "C" quality reader and an "A" quality reader?

Ed replied that it was indeed possible to make such distinctions. He said that in the context of a typical college reading situation, a "C" reader was a literal reader. When given a textbook chapter to read, this student would simply open the book and start reading, line by line, taking it all in passively without raising any questions and without thinking much about how the different ideas being presented were weighted in terms of importance.

A "B" reader, on the hand, started off differently according to Ed. This student would not immediately dive into the chapter. Instead, he or she would engage in previewing first: browsing the whole assignment to note the headings, the subheadings, looking for any underlined words, inspecting the questions at the end. This student would be establishing a matrix of interpretation. Or, to look at it visually, this student would be establishing a vertical axis to go with the "C" student's horizontal axis. By analyzing how the textbook author was organizing and weighting ideas, the student would have a meaningful grid upon which to hang the literal data. The "B reader, then is an interpretive reader.