By their nature, the learning goals of the Philosophy Department are best measured based by examining students’ written work. Therefore, each year a two or three members of our department will collect written work from majors with an eye to assessing their philosophical development at the Sophomore, Junior, and Senior levels. This written work will be collected from our writing-intensive courses: that is, from our history sequence (mandatory for all majors) consisting of PHIL 281, PHIL-283, and PHIL 288. We will look for evidence of success in meeting all learning goals at all levels, but with the expectation that beginning students will be less accomplished than senior majors. Thus, we will also attend to general improvement between the earlier and later stages.

Learning Goals I and II and Writing Intensive II

Each writing sample will be assessed against the rubric below, adapting letter grades with a specified interpretation (i.e., not as would be applied to the submissions in their course contexts).

A: achievement equivalent to graduate school or professional philosophical standards
B: achievement equivalent to the best senior major performance
C: adequate achievement for a good student at a comparable level of coursework
D: passable achievement, illustrating some awareness of philosophical fluency but flawed use and expression of philosophical skills
F: no evidence of philosophical learning or skills

With respect to a particular written work, the following rubric, derived from our learning goals, will be applied. (The learning goal most directly implicated is indicated in parentheses.)

  • The paper addresses a philosophical issue or question (1):
  • The paper proposes a philosophical response (1):
  • The paper reflects a critical reading of a philosophical text (2):
  • The paper displays the capacity to extract and reconstruct a thesis and supporting argument from a text (2):
  • The paper reflects an ability to conceptually access the point of view of an author (2):
  • The paper reflects an appreciation of the philosophical pressures the led to the author’s adopting the positions taken in the text (2):
  • The paper expresses abstract ideas with care and precision (3):
  • The paper communicates clearly and effectively (3):
  • The paper marshals argument and evidence persuasively (3):