Teaching Tips: Using Rubrics

A rubric is an authentic assessment tool used to measure students’ work. It is a scoring guide that seeks to evaluate a student’s performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score. Rubrics offer students informative feedback on strengths and areas of needed improvement.

Why should I use a rubric? Rubrics set course expectations. They allow you to clarify course expectations and show students how to meet them. Students themselves become involved in the assessment process through self-assessment. This empowers students and as a result, their learning becomes more focused and self-directed. As a result of this self-assessment, time spent evaluating student performance and providing feedback can be reduced.

How do I create a rubric? Designing an effective rubric can be time-consuming. To get started, here are some tips:

  1. Do not use generic rubrics without careful consideration of their quality and appropriateness for your project. Remember, these are your students, not someone else’s – you know them and your projects best.
  2. Be succinct and avoid extraneous detail.
  3. Do not combine independent criteria for example, “very clear and very organized”. The work might be clear, but not organized.
  4. Use key, teachable criteria, or “what counts”. Do not vaguely define levels of quality. For example: “Poorly organized” versus “Organization and Structure: The paper has a clear progression from one fully developed point to the next as it moves toward proving its intended thesis”.
  5. Use measurable criteria. Specify what quality or absence looks like versus comparative (“not as thorough as”) or value language (“excellent content”).
  6. Aim for an even number of levels. Create a continuum between least and most. Define poles and work inward. List skills and traits consistently across levels.
  7. Use students in creating or adapting rubrics. Consider using “I” in the descriptors. “I followed precisely – consistently – inconsistently – APA documentation format.”
  8. Do not let the rubric stand alone. Always provide specific comments on your rubric and/or on the student product itself.

Peruse this site for Sample Rubrics.

For more tips on creating effective rubrics and implementing them in your ECLearn courses, attend the upcoming ATIG workshop Tips for Designing and Using Rubrics on Tuesday, March 26th at 12:15pm in Admin 351.

References and to learn more:

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