History Short Essay Rubric
As with most disciplines, History has certain conventions and demands that
it imposes on students. The most common assignment to students in
introductory History courses is the short essay. This type of assignment
usually demands that students understa nd a historical source in its
historical context. This type of writing resembles, but is distinctly
different, from the writing called for in other related disciplines. To
help you understand the basic requirements of these assignments, the
History Writ ing Center has prepared this short rubric.
Thesis: The essay must propose and prove an arguable point or
interpretation. A thesis is not a repetition of the topic or question
assigned, but is a positive and definite statement which one can argue
both for and against. The quality of the thesis will affect the overall
impact of an essay. You should develop a thesis which answers an
important question about the characterization or interpretation of a
period, or that clarifies or deepens our understanding of an important
piece of evidence.
Evidence: You must supply evidence in support of your thesis. Remember,
though, that evidence will not stand alone as support for one's thesis.
Evidence must be introduced and explained, and should be matched in the
paper with a balance of analytic discussion. Simply pointing out a fact
does not tell the reader what its significance is. Direct quotations are
nice, but they should be used sparingly. When using a direct quotation,
special attention must be given to analyze its relevance to your the
Citations: You must cite the source of any idea, interpretation, or fact
used in your work.
Structure and Style: You will be evaluated on the quality of your
writing. The essay should have an introduction which delineates the
subject and thesis, a main body of paragraphs which flow well, and a
conclusion which reaffirms the main point. The more clearly and eloquently
you express your main point, the easier it will be to convince the reader
of your point of view. Clarity is paramount. Your reader must be able to
follow you through each step of your logic to understand what you are
trying to prove. Jumping from one point to another without discussing how
they are related will disorient the reader. Also, be careful with
historical narrative. Holding back details for more dramatic impact will
probably dilute the clarity and force of your thesis. You should also
restrict historical background material to what is necessary to understand
your thesis. Anything else will needlessly bore the reader.