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Student Writing

Within the department many students have requested help with their writing. One of the first places students can do is to pay attention to the style of the writing found in their textbooks. Generally what is used is known as the APA (American Psychological Association) publication style. This is what is generally accepted within most areas of higher education as the standard style of writing. Under the Child Development webpage you can find a couple of helpful web sites to assist you in your writing. Below are listed a few helpful hints that make a major difference in how your papers are evaluated.

  • Name: Create a title page for your paper.
  • Rationale: Why did you choose the topic and what are your feelings about the information you learned from the process.
  • References: Only list those articles you use in your paper. There are specific ways in which the work of others is to be cited/referenced. Read up on it. With the easy access of information on the Internet many students have forgotten what a library is and how to use one. Information gained online is helpful but often is of less value. With research papers, unless told in class otherwise, information from popular media is not acceptable as a resource for information. This means you will have to spend some time doing some digging and looking for what you need.
  • Headings on major parts of the paper: This is critical. Imagine reading a book that had no chapters or punctuation. That is what it is like to read dozens of student papers without the appropriate structure. Include the following as appropriate (all or most usually are) Introduction, Review of Literature or Discussion, Summary, Conclusion, References
  • Focus statement in the first page of the paper that states, "The focus of this paper is" or "This paper will address the following points"
  • Correct use of citations within the text. (Cohen, 1996) or Cohen (1996)
  • Write in paragraphs and transition between thoughts and ideas you are expressing.
  • Summary: Summarize the main points brought out by what you have presented.
  • Conclusions: These are your evaluation given of all of the above content. The research is the facts of authorities greater than yourself, the conclusions are your response or understanding based on all that came before.
  • References: This should follow the following format:
    Whitbeck, D. (1999) Giving Presentations and Workshops before Early
    Childhood Teachers, Hand-in-Hand Newsletter, KAEYC


Grading Rubric for Papers
(If you cannot see the full width of the rubric, your browser font size has been changed.  If using a keyboard, do the following.  To return to 100%, press the Ctrl key and the 'zero' key together.  To increase your font, press the Ctrl key and the '+=' key.  To decrease your font, press the Ctrl key and the '-_' key.)


The A paper

The B paper

The C paper

The D paper

The F paper


Excels in responding to all aspects of the assignment.  Interesting, The writer has a clear purpose of the assignment.  Demonstrates sophistication of thought. Central idea is clearly communicated, worth developing; limited enough to be manageable. Defines terms.  Where appropriate an audience is defined and addressed.  Uses appropriate terminology.

A solid paper, responding

appropriately to assignment. (Clearly states a thesis/central idea, but may have minor lapses in development.  Begins to acknowledge the complexity of central idea and the possibility of other points of view.)  Shows careful reading of sources, but may not evaluate them critically.  Attempts to define terms, not always successfully.

Adequate but weaker and less effective, possibly responding less well to assignment. Presents central idea in general terms, often depending on platitudes or clichés.  Usually does not acknowledge other views. Shows basic comprehension of sources, perhaps with lapses in understanding. If it defines terms, often depends on dictionary definitions.

Does not have a clear central idea or does not respond  appropriately to the

assignment. Thesis may be too vague or obvious to be developed effectively. Paper may misunderstand sources.


Does not respond to the assignment, lacks a thesis or central idea, and may neglect to use sources where



Structure/ Format/



Uses a logical structure or organizational scheme (chronological, sequential, serial, etc.) appropriate to paper's subject, purpose, audience, thesis, and disciplinary field.  Sophisticated transitional sentences often develop one idea from the previous one or identify their logical relations. It guides the reader through the chain of reasoning or progression of ideas. Uses headings, titles, page numbers. Transitions between content. Introduction and summary / conclusions.

Shows a logical progression of ideas and uses fairly sophisticated transitional devices; e.g., may move from least to more important idea.  Some logical links may be faulty, but each paragraph clearly relates to paper's central idea.


May list ideas or arrange them randomly rather than using any evident logical structure. May use transitions, but they are likely to be sequential (first, second, third) rather than logic-based. While each paragraph may relate to central idea, logic is not always clear. Paragraphs have topic sentences but may be overly general, and arrangement of sentences within paragraphs may lack coherence.

May have random organization, lacking internal paragraph coherence and using few or inappropriate

transitions.  Paragraphs may lack topic sentences or main ideas, or may be too general or too specific to be effective. Paragraphs may not all relate to paper's thesis.


No appreciable organization; lacks

transitions and coherence.


Application of Knowledge/Support

Uses evidence appropriately and effectively, providing sufficient evidence and explanation to convince.

Applies examples to defined concepts.

Apply theories to practice.  Use of critical thinking,  Able to clearly distinguish what are your ideas and those of sources.

Begins to offer reasons to support its points, perhaps using varied kinds of evidence. Begins to interpret the evidence and explain connections between evidence and main ideas. Its examples bear some relevance.


Often uses generalizations to support its points. May use examples, but they may be obvious or not relevant.  Often depends on unsupported opinion or personal experience, or assumes that evidence speaks for itself and needs no application to the point being discussed. Often has lapses in logic.

Depends on clichés or

overgeneralizations for support, or offers little evidence of any kind.  May be personal narrative rather than essay, or summary rather than analysis.


Uses irrelevant details or lacks

supporting evidence entirely. May be

unduly brief.


Mechanics/ Grammar/ Style

Almost entirely free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Uses clear and concise language.  Uses appropriate documentation. Chooses words for their precise meaning and uses an appropriate level of specificity. Sentence style fits paper's audience and purpose.  Sentences are varied, yet clearly structured and carefully focused, not long and rambling.

May contain a few errors, which may annoy the reader but not impede understanding.


Generally uses words accurately and effectively, but may sometimes be too general. Sentences generally clear, well structured, and focused, though some may be awkward or ineffective.


Usually contains several mechanical errors, which may temporarily confuse the reader but not impede the overall understanding.   Uses relatively vague and general words, may use some inappropriate language. Sentence structure generally correct, but sentences may be wordy, unfocused, repetitive, or confusing.

Usually contains either many

mechanical errors or a few important errors that block the reader's understanding and ability to see connections between thoughts.   May be too vague and abstract, or very personal and specific. Usually contains several awkward or ungrammatical sentences; sentence structure is simple or monotonous.

Usually contains so many mechanical errors that it is impossible for the reader to follow the thinking from sentence to sentence.  Usually contains many awkward sentences, misuses words, employs

inappropriate language.


Link to APA Writing Format - This site will help you to understand and follow the APA writing guidelines. The APA Manual is about 250 pages long so this brief summary is much better and easier to understand.