At Clayton State University, writing is taught and assessed as a major part of the Communication
Outcome, which, along with Critical Thinking, serves as a measure of the
attainment of a well-rounded general education. This
Communication Outcome is defined at Clayton State University in the following terms:
much more than setting forth information; it involves an interchange of
ideas or thoughts between a sender and a recipient. Whether the
communication takes the form of a written paper or report, a letter, an
oral presentation, or a problem-solving discussion in a small group, the
ultimate goal is a clear, meaningful exchange of ideas between the
sender(s) and recipient(s). Regardless of its purpose or form,
communication is characterized by the following components:
The information conveyed must be appropriately accurate and extensive to
meet the purpose of the communication.
Recipient: The communication must
demonstrate the sender's awareness of the qualities the recipient brings
to the exchange. The details selected and the level of development
must be appropriate for the recipient's level of familiarity,
comprehension level, and attitude toward the information.
Well-organized communication is characterized by an orderly sequencing
of information, with logical movement from the beginning to the end.
Effective communicators use punctuation or vocal cues to clarify and
enhance the meaning of sentences. They carefully select and
arrange words, phrases, and clauses to create clear relationships among
ideas within sentences. To foster clear communication, effective
communicators bring together all the presentational tools at hand,
including those involving voice or punctuation, sentence structure,
gesture, and elements of format. In technical communication, these
tools include the correct notation and syntax for the content area and
the appropriate use of diagrams, graphs, and other visual aids.
An effective communication involves to varying degrees, interjection of
the personal tone, point of view, attitude, or personality of the
sender. With an awareness of the recipient and of the situation
the sender must make appropriate decisions about the conciseness,
precision, tome, and level of formality of the written or spoken
While Clayton State University describes
the Communication Outcome in terms of the five components listed above,
the Writing Criteria which follow in this pamphlet subdivide written
communication into seven domains, so that instructors and students can
diagnose particular features of writing as well as identify particular
strengths and weaknesses in these areas. These writing skills and
assessment standards are the focus of instruction in English 0099.
This criterion describes the appropriateness, accuracy, extensiveness, and perspective of the knowledge
which the writer exhibits. This criterion also assesses the degree to which the writer's information meets the
content requirements of a specific assignment.
This criterion concerns the writer's awareness of a known, assumed, or likely reading audience. In
demonstrating this awareness, the writer considers the reader's attitudes toward or familiarity with the subject,
as well as the reader's comprehension level. The writer's development, emphasis, and diction vary according
to the reader.
This criterion focuses on structure and coherence. Structure refers to the unity achieved by focusing and
ordering the paragraphs or sections of the material. Coherence refers to the way the writer connects ideas
to provide continuity from point to point and throughout the text. These aspects of organization may vary
according to the intended reader, purpose, format, or context.
This criterion concerns the writer's use of a written or printed format appropriate to the writing situation. Format
may include spelling, capitalization, manuscript and documentation form (for example, MLA or APA), graphics,
or any other element of typography or appearance. NOTE: Spelling errors involving misuse of the apostrophe
are considered in Criterion Five. Errors in singular and plural formation of nouns and errors in verb formation
are considered in Criterion Six.
This criterion concerns the writer's use of punctuation marks to clarify and enhance the meaning of sentences.
Of particular concern are such basic marks as the comma, apostrophe, and end punctuation. In addition, more
sophisticated punctuation such as the semicolon, colon, dash, quotation marks, brackets, ellipses, and
parentheses are considered. NOTE: Errors of end punctuation resulting in fragments, comma splices, or
fused/run-on sentences are considered under grammatical completeness in Criterion Six. Uses of the hyphen
and of italics and underlining are considered matters of format in Criterion Four.
This criterion considers the writer's use of the elements of sentence structure to establish and clarify
meaning within sentences. Of concern here is the writer's use of sentence patterns (coordination,
subordination, parallelism, and modifier placement) to establish relationships among ideas. In addition,
basic conventions of grammar and usage (e.g. subject-verb agreement, pronoun forms, and verb forms)
are considered. Finally, this criterion deals with the mastery of sentence completeness (avoiding fragments,
run-ons, comma splices, and omitted words).
Style is the writer's voice as a communicator. Since the purpose of most writing is to establish a link between
the writer and the reader, such characteristics as appropriate tone, conciseness, and precision are desirable