What To Say In Book Review – Grading Rubric

The Objective

After you’ve read your book, you need to develop a summary and review of the book. First, let me say what I’m NOT looking for. I’m not looking for an academic research paper. This is about using the web to get ideas across to your fellow students. When other students finish reading the page for your book review(s), they should have a good idea

  • what the book is about
  • what the author is trying to say
  • how it relates to what we’ve studied
  • what your thoughts are about these ideas.

Every one of these books has a “message” – something the author is trying to persuade readers to do, think, or believe. When I and the other students view your site, we need to understand both the “message” the author is pushing AND what you think about it. Do you agree? Disagree? Why? Why not? What do you think the author should have considered but didn’t? Did this book change your thinking? Or did it just make you angry? Or just bored? What would you like to ask or say to the author if you could?

The Minimum Questions You Need to Answer on Your Website
(you don’t need to cover these in this order, just make sure you answer them)

1. The Basics

What’s the book? Who’s the author? Who’s the publisher? What’s the ISBN? Is there a publisher’s or author’s website where we can get more info? Be sure you  include basic bibliographic information about the book, too, such as who the author is, the copyright, and publisher.

2. What is the book about? How is the book structured?

A simple descriptive summary of the structure and main topics of the book is sufficient. I would suggest perhaps using a sentence to describe the main topic or point of each chapter.

3. What are main points or arguments the author is trying make?

If we were to ask the author to name only two or three main points or ideas that he/she wanted readers to remember after reading the book, what would the author answer? We want you to tell us those main points in your own words. Of course, an author might have more than two or three main points or arguments, but you decide the most important.

4. What insights did the author have regarding the particular topics we studying this semester:  Standards of living, healthcare, intergenerational issues, or income inequality?

In this course we’re focusing in units 2-4 largely on different approaches to creating improved standards of living in an economy – i.e. economic growth.  In Unit 5 we’ll talk about the particular issues of healthcare and intergenerational support. In Unit 6 we’ll discuss income inequality.  What, if anything, did this author have to contribute to our understanding of these issues.

5. What facts or insights did you learn that you didn’t already know?

Find significant facts or phenomena that you weren’t aware of before reading this book. Try to find facts that might be surprising to most of the other students in class. Remember the other students in this class will be reading your summary, but they will not have read the books themselves. Help them learn from your reading of the book. Be sure to fully describe the facts and other relevant information. For example, it is useful to know why these facts were included in the book.

6. What did the author not cover or include that you wish/think they should have?

What did the author not include, consider, or discuss that you think could have added to the discussion or might change conclusions?  Is there something else you wish the author would have discussed in greater depth or provided more convincing evidence?

7. Has this book changed your thinking? Why? Why not?

What did you learn from the book? How has it changed your thinking? It’s not necessary to agree with an author’s argument for the author to have an impact on your thinking. What is the one main insight, idea, or argument from the book that has changed or expanded your thinking. What is the one main idea or opinion you want to pass on to other students from your reading of the book?

Formatting: Expectations

As mentioned before, do not limit yourself to the traditional format of an academic essay. You are contributing to a “blog” on the web.  This is increasingly how the world is processing and distributing articles, papers, and even academic research.

For the technical aspects of how to create your webpage on this, the compsys.econproph.net site, see How to Create Your Book Review In WordPress.

You are free to be as creative or expressive as you wish. Remember though that your formatting should serve your goal: informing and interesting your fellow students about the book you read.

Nonetheless I have some minimum expectations:

  1. The work is your own original work. Inserting or including pieces from others or other sites is acceptable, IF it is clearly identified as such and who/what the sources are (links are a good idea). The best way to do this is by only quoting portions and using the “Blockquote” button on the editing toolbar to format it. It also means inserting links.  Again, WordPress makes this easy by using the “Link” button.
    This means:

    • NO PLAGIARISM. Plagiarism is passing off somebody else’s work as if it were your own without giving proper credit.
    • NO COPYRIGHT VIOLATIONS. Copyright violations are not the same as plagiarism. Just because you are doing this for an educational assignment doesn’t protect you from accusations of copyright infringement. Before you copy or upload something, be sure you have the rights to do it. When quoting from commercial Internet sources, you have some protection in that this is for an “educational fair use” exemption under copyright law. However, to qualify for that exemption it is best to only use only partial excerpts and to clearly label and link to the source. Just because something is on the Web does not mean it is in the public domain with regard to copyright.
    • SUGGESTION for GRAPHICS: Materials that are licensed with a Creative Commons copyright are OK to use (see creativecommons.org site for more info). To make searching for images, music, articles, etc. that are Creative Commons licensed, try: http://search.creativecommons.org/
    • Embedded videos are welcome. If the video is found on Youtube, then it’s tremendously easy to embed the video in WordPress.  Simply click the “Share” button on the Youtube page for the video. Copy the “embed” code. Then paste that embed code on your book review or essay page on its own line. You can also insert Youtubes and other videos using the “Youtube” button on the editing toolbar. A popup box asks for the Youtube link and then inserts the video – very easy. However, be warned that you should explain why the video is relevant and what we should take away from it.  Do not rely on the video to substitute for your writing.
  2. Style Guide. You don’t have to create footnotes (footnotes are kind of odd in a web page anyway). Nor do you have to conform to some particular “style guide” such as APA or MLA. If you want some models style-wise for your writing, look at how I write things in my blog, Econproph.com.  I do, however, expect you to list or identify somewhere your key sources, particularly if you quote them or they consist of data or surprising facts. The test of whether a source is documented is “Has enough detail information been given so that the reader could find and verify it from the source”.

Total Points Available  (grading scale and rubric)

Each of your two book reviews will be worth 50 possible points. The course has a possible 500 points, so this means each book review is worth 10% of your course grade.

I will assign points using the following rubric.  I will assign between 0 and 5 points for each of the following criteria, with 0 being totally missing and 5 being excellent, met or exceeded expectations.

  1. Biblio Info: The basic publishing & bibliographic information of the book is provided
  2. Author: The author and his/her background described. Why would we think this author has something to say?
  3. Book Topic: What the book is about is explained or described
  4. Book’s Main Points: The main points or arguments of the book’s author are described.
  5. Interest: Interesting facts or insights are provided.
  6. Student View: Student has offered an opinion, reaction, or their own thoughts in response to the book.
  7. Sources: Sources are documented or linked.
  8. Creativity: Creativity and interesting to view /read.
  9. Technical: Overall quality and attention to detail (grammar, spelling, layout) etc.
  10. MC: A multiple choice question was submitted for the book review.

Evidence or suspicion of plagiarism will negate points.


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