Rubrics are an invaluable addition to any assignment because they promote student success while also benefiting instructors. A well-designed rubric will not only set a clear blueprint for an assignment, but by defining and clarifying expectations and demonstrating the importance of individual components, it encourages authentic self-assessment by students.
Rubrics are also an important tool in teaching students about their learning. Because rubrics provide specific and consistent feedback on work submitted, use of rubrics can be used as a tool for providing feedback during self-assessment and peer review. Both of these practices will help to improve students’ metacognition and skill at assessing their own work and the work of others.
Having predetermined the expectations will allow for faster grading of assignments and provides greater consistency over time and amongst graders. Rubrics also allow instructors to easily identify weak points and re-teaching opportunities, while offering powerful feedback.
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Carefully consider the language used. Always use objective indicators for performance levels that are constructive from the bottom up (For example, excellent, good, acceptable, and needs improvement make use of constructive and positive language). When establishing and differentiating performance level criteria, avoid using negative language that focuses on failure and does not coach for improvement.
Limit the number of components you wish to provide feedback on. Pick only the most important components of the assignment and develop performance levels for these criteria that will show students what they have accomplished in their work, rather than what they have failed to do. Avoid creating rubrics that are simply checklists of items that should be included.
Invest the time necessary to describe the processes and skills that would be observed in a successful submission. Distinguish between levels of mastery you expect to see for each quality rating, and to ensure maximum student effort, weight the criteria in a manner that matches the effort required.
Provide rubrics ahead of time for students to self-evaluate. Students will submit higher quality work if they are provided with a rubric along with assignment instructions. It can also be helpful to provide exemplar submissions when appropriate.
References and Additional Resources
- Carnegie Mellon Eberly Center: Grading and Performance Rubrics
- Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Texas: Rubrics
- University of Hawaii Manoa: Creating and Using Rubrics
- Durfee, A.W. (2010). How rubrics help students learn. The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 28.
- Myers, S., (2017). Research Starters: Education (Online Edition)
- Reddy, Y.M., & Andrade, H. (2010). Assessment & Evaluations in Higher Education. A Review of Rubric Use in Higher Education.
- Roblyer, M. D., & Wiencke, W. R. (2003). American Journal of Distance Education. Design and use of a rubric to assess and encourage interactive qualities in distance courses.
- Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. (2005). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub.