Grading & Assignments

The following activities will compose your grade in this course (by weight, subject to change):

Undergraduate Assignments

  • “Prep Exercises” (20%), (4 posts, by sign-up)
  • Synthesis Essay #1 and Synthesis Essay #2 (25% each, 50% total)
  • Project Assessment Report (30%)

Graduate Assignments

  • “Prep Exercises” (10%), (4 posts, by sign-up)
  • Synthesis Essay #1 and Synthesis Essay #2 (15% each, 30% total)
  • Development Theory and Skill-building Exercises (2 total, 20% each, 40% total)
  • Project Assessment Report (20%)

I do not (except under exceptional and usually illness-related circumstances) accept late work.  You have the schedule of the various due dates now, and significant leeway in how you plan to meet them.  Please plan accordingly.

Grading Scale

All assignments will be graded “credit/no credit” or with letter grades. At the end of the semester, I’ll covert the letter grades to percentages as below, and calculate a final grade.

A = 100-93
A- = 92-90
B+ = 89-88
B = 87-84
B- = 83-81
C+ = 80-79
C = 78-72
C- = 71-70
D = 69-65
F = 65-0

“Prep” Exercises

The short “prep” exercises are a way for you to organize your thoughts on paper in preparation for an active discussion on the week’s reading.  I will expect you to complete  4 exercises with a grade of “satisfactory” over the course of the term.  Each exercise, which you will post to our class blog (instructions to follow), will be due no later than 11 AM on the day of class associated with each exercise.  I will be looking at these assignments before class (something I strongly recommend you all do, as well), so as to get a sense of what your fellow students have understood and found important in the readings.  I encourage you all to do the same.

The questions themselves (which will typically ask you to answer some question or explain some concept based upon your reflections on our reading assignments) are to be answered in no more than 500 words (a bit under two pages, double-spaced, in Microsoft Word), with a word count appended at the end.  They will be graded on a very simple scale—if you fully complete the exercise, you receive full credit.  If you do not, you receive no credit.  Below is our grading rubric:




Does not answer all the questions or include all the elements requested in the assignment


is not posted to the blog (in a new post) by 11 AM on the due date

Answers all the questions and includes all the elements requested in the assignment


is posted to the blog (in a new post) by 11 AM on the due date


Does not explicitly and directly answer each of the questions. Explicitly and directly answers each of the questions.


Written carelessly, or evidencing only a superficial attempt to engage with the materials or complete the task. Demonstrates an effort to engage with the reading materials and/or complete the assigned task.

Word Count

Is not under 500 words, and/or fails to append a word count at the end of the blog post, i.e. (20 words). Is under 500 words, and appends a word count (9 words).

As noted above, you must complete all required exercises with a grade of “satisfactory” to receive full (100%) for this portion of your grade.  If you should complete fewer than 4, you will receive zero credit for this portion of the course.

Synthesis Essays

Several times over the course of the term, I will provide you an opportunity to reflect on the content and meaning of the concepts and examples discussed in this class.  You will be asked to respond to two (2) questions, in less than 2000 words, distributed between the two prompts as you see fit.  I stop reading after word 2000 , so be advised.  You will submit a hard copy to me in class, with numbered pages, a final word count listed at the end of the essays, and in-text citations (from our class readings) with page numbers.  Because this is not an exam, and because you have the questions well in advance, no “make-ups” or late submissions will be accepted, barring truly exceptional (health-related) circumstances, and entirely at my discretion.  You are responsible to make the necessary time to complete these essays.

Graduate Students: Development Theory and Skill-building Exercises

These writing and research exercises will test your ability to apply and expand upon our class materials in ways that explicitly link theory and practice. Each is described in more detail on the “Development Theory and Skill-building Exercises” page.

Undergraduate and Graduate Students: Project Assessment Report

Arguably the most difficult but important issue in international development today is how to evaluate the successes and failures of massive, sweeping development programs and projects. Working in groups of 5-6, each of team will be assigned a major international development initiative spearheaded by major bilateral and/or multilateral donors, NGOs, and global south governments. Your job will be to write a 10 page evaluation of that project/program/initiative that examines its intended goals and “theory of change,” examines how the key stakeholders and actors involved in implementing it pursued those goals, and evaluates its overall impact. More information will follow later in the term.