English 1140


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Eng. 1140


The Basics of Grading for the Semester

(Note: Parts of these "Basics of Grading" also appear at the beginning of the "Attendance" web page and in the "Records" web pages. This repetition is to help those who don't look at our entire web site, or who have trouble adding their X's, to better figure out their grade at any given time.)

What is the "X's" System?

Attendance and Weekly Papers are based on an "X's System" of 100 X's, total, for attendance and weekly papers. You usually get one or two X's for each attendance and each homework assignment. A "C" in the course means you've earned at least 70 X's; a "B" means you've earned at least 80 X's; an "A" means you've earned at least 90 X's.

It also may help you to remember that this course is a four-credit class (not the normal three credits), and so the workload is 33% more--and harder--than is normally expected for a three-credit class. 3-credit college classes usually expect you to attend and do homework for 9 hrs./wk. for an "A." However, 4-credit classes usually expect you to attend and do homework for 12 hrs./wk. for an "A." In regard to attendance specifically, in this class, the expected time spent is the same as four 50-min. classes, or 200 minutes per week.

The grading for the semester is based on 100 X's (100 points or 100%) being equal to an A+.  The X's you can earn are divided as follows:

  • About 55 X's (very roughly, depending on the semester) are for weekly homework papers.

  • About 35 X's (very roughly, depending on the semester) are for attendance on D2L

  • The rest--roughly 10-15 X's--is attendance in real or online time at special events or meetings.

  • Extra Credit X's also are allowed. (See below.)

  • Participation, attitude, attention, and hard work can lower or slightly raise your final grade for the course.

  • Plagiarizing (i.e., stealing--using without giving credit) other authors' writing--or each other's assignments-- can significantly lower your final grade for the course or be a reason for not passing the class at all.

  • At least half of all the X's/points you earn--for whatever grade you earn--must come from the regularly assigned homework and attendance. In other words, you must complete at least half of the expected assignments for your grade, with extra credit only being able to substitute for the other half.

You earn X's by completing the work.  In attendance, an "X" (or a "V") is about 100 min. of work.  The same is true for extra credit - about 100 min. of work per X.  (In weekly homework, most assignments are worth 1 X each, with a few being equal to 2 X's.)  By the end of the term, your total X's for attendance, extra credit, and homework will determine your grade as follows:

100 (or more) X's = A+
90-99 X's = A
80-89 X's = B
70-79 X's = C
60-69 X's = D
 0-59 X's = F

Basically, the method of doing well in this class is to earn as many X's as you can, depending on what grade you want.  2009 was the first year in which I have started using this system in online classes.  However, I have used this X's system of grading since 2006 in writing classes on campus, and about 90-95% of students - once they get used to it - report by the end of the term that they think it is a great system, one of the clearest and most fair they have ever used, and they recommend I use it with future classes.


How to Estimate Your Grade

It might help you to remember that you need at least 90% of the X's for an "A." If you have about 3/4ths of the X's and 1/4th 0's, you would earn a "C." If you'd like more detail, here are three ways to know your grade by counting your X's and 0's:

EASY WAY. Every week or two, be sure you earn this many X's:

  • Earn at least three out of every five possible X's for a "D."

  • Earn three out of every four possible X's for a "C."

  • Earn at least four out of every five possible X's for a "B."

  • Earn at least nine out of every ten possible X's for an "A."

Simply look at the X's on the attendance and weekly papers records,  see how many are possible every week or two of three, and then count each one you have earned. (If this is confusing to you, do some counting; then email me, Richard, with the results and tell me where/how you are confused.

MEDIUM-DIFFICULT WAY. At any point in the semester, you can count how many X's and 0's you have on the records. Then use this simple chart:

  • With half X's & half 0's, you so far have an "F."
    (For example, 20 X's & 20 0's would be an "F.")

  • With 2/3rds X's and 1/3rd 0's, you so far have a "D+."
    (E.g., 22 X's and 11 0's would be, so far, a "D+.")

  • With 4/5ths X's and 1/5th 0's, you so far have a "B-."
    (E.g., 20 X's and 5 0's would be, so far, a "B-.")

  • With 9/10ths X's and 1/10th 0's, you so far have an "A."
    (E.g., 45 X's and 5 0's would be, at the time, an "A.")

LONGER, MORE DETAILED WAY. You can count your X's now, and also estimate the X's you expect to get; then use this overall chart to determine your grade:

  • 90-100 X's = A for the course

  • 80-89 X's = B for the course

  • 70-79 X's = C for the course

  • 60-69 X's = D for the course

  • 59 or lower X's = F for the course

Basically, you can build your own grade by how many X's you earn.  I have been using this method in online literature classes since 2009, and the great majority of students have recommended that I keep using this system as a way of grading because it is more fair and clearer. 

Note: Remember that this is a four-credit class (not just the normal three credits). And so the workload is 33% more than is normally expected for a three-credit class. This applies to the total time you spend both in attendance and homework. For attendance, the expected time spent is the same as four 50-min. classes, or 200 minutes per week. In addition, if you are a significantly slower-than-average reader, the course may take even more time.


Homework (Weekly Papers) Grade: 55 X's

            This portion of your grade will be determined by how many of your weekly, rough-draft, non-graded assignments you turn in. Most assignments are worth one X, a few of them two X's.  The most you can get is 55 X's.  You cannot be more than one week late with homework assignments (and Drafts I and II of your term paper cannot be late at all).  The X's you earn will be added to the total X's you earn for the semester.  


Attendance in D2L Discussions: 35 X's

There are regular, almost weekly messages that must be done on D2L. These messages require a minimum of 200+ words each, and you must write up to four of them per week--for a total of up to 800+ words per week.  In these messages, you give your own thoughts and opinions about the readings and literature, and you interact with others in your class.

For more details and for instructions, see our class's D2L page.


Attendance for Special Events: 10-12 X's

There are four "special events." You may complete them online or in person:

A. Introduction to the course, two options.
(1) Write a thorough summary of this website.
(2) OR attend an on-campus introduction in the first week. (see "Home" page for date and location).
- Worth 1 X.

B. Plays, two options.
(1) Watch and write about specific assigned literary plays on video.
(2) OR attend two professional/collegiate plays in person (one of which will be the school play at IHCC.)
- Worth 3-4 X's per play

C. Visual interfaces with literature, three options.
(1) Read an additional graphic novel.
(2) OR visit online art museum collections related to literature, or visit websites about literary authors.
(3) OR join me (Richard Jewell) for a short evening at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), where a docent will lead us on a "literary tour" of paintings and sculptures.
- Worth 3 X's.


Make Ups and Extra Credit

You may make up missed attendance and missed homework by doing it late for extra credit and/or by replacing it with additional extra work. All make ups and extra credit are counted as additional attendance. For more details, see the "Attendance" page in this website.


Satisfactory Academic Progress in This Class

Please note that you will be dropped from the class if you miss more than three weeks of homework and attendance. If you are dropped from the class for nonparticipation after three weeks, you will not be able to access the class D2L page anymore. IHCC will automatically give you an "FN" on your grade transcript. Before the beginning of Week 14 of classes, you may change this to a "W" (Withdraw). If you do not change it by then, IHCC will automatically give you an "F" for the class.

Taking a "W" or an "F" for the class can create problems for you, too. Here is  IHCC's "Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy": As of summer 2007, all Inver Hills students must maintain a 67% completion rate for all credits attempted. This is in addition to the existing requirement that students earn a cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.0 or above. You can drop a class in the first week, and this does not affect your completion rate.  However, if you withdraw after that, fail to finish the course, or take an "I" (Incomplete), this will affect your completion rate and also may affect your eligibility for financial assistance.  Visit, call, or email IHCC Enrollment Services if you have further questions about this policy.

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This "Grading" page describes the grading system: 100 points or X's = an A+. If you'd like to get a high grade in this course, you should plan to earn almost all of the attendance and homework X's/points.

Scroll down or click here for the following parts of this "Grading" page:

Basics of Grading

How To Estimate Grade

Homework Grades

D2L Attendance

Events Attendance

Make Ups/Extra Credit

Academic Progress



 Updated Aug. 2018

1st Ed., 27 Dec. 2009
2nd Ed., 1 Oct. 2014

Contact: Richard Jewell

Text and images are copyrighted by Richard Jewell (unless otherwise noted) and may be used for nonprofit academic purposes with no permission required. This website is for a course at Inver Hills Community College, a two-year college with full national Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation. (Some four-year degrees also are offered on-campus in collaborations with HLC-accredited four-year colleges.) Inver Hills College is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnState), one of the two largest such U.S. college and university systems..