Kendra Ironsby Joanna Schmidt
Before students begin writing papers for her class, Kendra tells them "to start well ahead of when it's due, let it work around in your brain for a while" before writing. She appreciates the uniqueness of her students and encourages them to choose a topic or an angle that they are interested in. Their creativity is the most consistent strength that Kendra sees in the papers that she reads. However, the most common weakness is a lack of a clear train of thought, which is often evidence that a paper was put off until the last minute, sometimes the night (or early morning) before it is due.
When she begins reading a paper the most important thing that she is looking for is content. On a 100 point based scale this accounts for 40 percent of the overall grade. After that she evaluates the argument and flow, which is another 20 percent. Then she notes the range and use of sources, 15 percent. After that she judges style and proofreading (including all of the grammatical or spelling errors) which is another 15 percent. Finally the last 10 percent comes from the uniqueness of the point of view or argument.
Although the irritation of split infinitives has slowly gone away, Kendra does not like the lack of precise language sometimes used in papers. One example of this is using the word man instead of human when implying a person or human being. She also appreciates "sentences that are actually sentences" and that are not filled with errors that would have been caught if proofread.
Kendra advises that a good essay includes following the instructions she gives in class, on the assignment sheets, and syllabus. Students should remember to analyze rather than summarize the material, which consists of more than simply retelling the Bible passages. She always wants the paper to have a thesis that is constructed into a clear logical argument and has smooth transitions. Regarding the technical side of the paper, she appreciates correct documentation and the introduction of sources, "rather than simply throwing them onto the page." Following this advice, starting on the paper early, and rereading it for errors should help students to write better, creative, and more critical research papers.