Grading Rubric for Writing about an Artifact



Letter Grades








Artifact would be of great interest to scholars and collectors who are engaged in current research; shows a sophisticated understanding of the artifact's medium and genre.

Identifies the source of the artifact by indicating the individual creator or group, the date of composition, the medium and genre, and the place, people, or events that are represented in the artifact; documents any books, websites, or articles used; uses research resources provided by the library and/or materials from scholarly collections online.

Anticipates a scholarly reader's questions about historical information, explanation, and context, while also being clear to a nonspecialist; analyzes significant aspects of the artifact.

Logical connections between the writer’s ideas and the ideas of others are evident, and comparisons to other artifacts are insightful; uses subheadings very effectively while also having consistency and coherence in the article as a whole.

Identifies the social and political assumptions about audience made by the creator or creators of the artifact, which are expressed in specific details that the reader can easily see in the reproduction; shows how the artifact represents the philosophy or ideology of a particular group of media-creators and intended audience members, perhaps by drawing on their public statements. 

Has clear and cogent analysis: ideas often insightful; goes beyond ideas discussed in lecture or class.


Artifact illustrates important aspects of the historical period, although similar artifacts are already on display in digital collections on the web; shows a clear understanding of the distinctive features of the artifact's medium and genre.

Adequate information about the circumstances under which the artifact was created; cites nonscholarly sources found in a Google search.

Addresses an academic reader's obvious questions about historical information, explanation, and context, while also being clear to a layman; describes relevant aspects of the artifact. 


Pursues explanation of the artifact’s significance consistently, and comparisons to other artifacts are appropriate; acceptable use of subheadings and paragraph organization.

Identifies specific biases, cases of staging, or emotional appeals intended to manipulate an audience by locating specific details in the artifact that are visible in the reproduction; shows how the artifact illustrates the specific messages of a group of media-creators or audience members.

Shows a good understanding of texts, images, ideas, and methods covered in lecture or class; goes beyond the obvious.



Artifact representative of general history of the period, but much of the article describing the artifact merely recapitulates catalog copy or web description in the author’s own words or identical artifacts are already described on the web; correctly identifies the medium and genre of the artifact.


Too little information about the creation of and audience for the artifact.


Addresses a general reader's needs for basic historical information, explanation, and context, but may have difficulty identifying the specific original intended creator or audience of the artifact and the conditions under which it was created.

Connections between the author’s ideas may not be entirely clear, and the article generalizes without referring to other comparable artifacts;  contains extraneous information or repeated facts.

Explains how this artifact represents the general ideas of a group of media-creators or the expectations of the artifact’s intended audience.

Shows an understanding of the basic ideas and information involved; may have one minor factual or conceptual inconsistency



Artifact not representative of the period and location, but article about the artifact does not acknowledge this discrepancy; incorrectly identifies the medium and genre of the artifact.


Cites sources with unsupported opinions or general summaries

Provides historical information that is only indirectly related to the artifact.

Illogical arrangement of ideas or irrelevant comparisons; relies on personal opinions or general stereotypes; simplistic claims; article wanders from one topic to another; frequently only narrates; too little variety or too much unexplained contrast.

Illogical explanation of the rhetorical message of the artifact.

May have some factual, interpretive, or conceptual errors


Artifact from the wrong time and place; explanation of the artifact is too short or too long; disobeys the rules about sources and types of artifacts.

No citation to indicate the source of the artifact; plagiarizes phrases or sentences. 

Historical information not relevant to the artifact.

Incoherent paragraphs lacking objectivity; connections not clear either within the article or to other artifacts or sources of knowledge; suggests poor planning or no serious revision; may list disjointed facts or misinformation. 

Ignores the fact that the artifact might convey a general message.

Shows inadequate command of course materials or has significant factual and conceptual errors.