Friday, May 29, 2015

Building Superior Rubrics

Why Use Rubrics?

Rubrics are a grading tool that provides detailed expectations for evaluating student performance.  Rubrics are often used for grading projects, however, they are an excellent tool for grading higher order skills such as, collaboration, performance, and critical thinking.  Rubrics are an excellent way to help improve student and teacher performance and to help keep grading consistent.

Benefits of Rubrics

Rubrics have many benefits for both instructors and students.  Rubrics:
  • Help align the assignment with the learning goals or competencies of the course
  • Make the expectations clear for students and help students evaluate their own work
  • Make assessment more objective and consistent because they specify the key components to grade
  • Provide opportunities for self-assessment and/or peer-assessment
  • Provide feedback for students
  • Provide feedback on instruction for instructors
  • Provide students with experience using rating scales and rubrics that can transfer to medical practice


How to Get Started with Rubrics?

Building a rubric requires a lot of planning but it helps clarify the expectations for students from the beginning of an assignment.  It also helps students self-assess their progress as they work because they have the criteria from the beginning. There is a lot of flexibility in designing a rubric so it is easy to adapt it to your needs.  Many instructors find it beneficial to have some general rubrics for the class and then to adapt these for specific assessments.
A typical rubric consists of
  1. Performance Elements (rows)
  2. Scale (columns)
  3. Descriptors/Criteria (cells)
  4. Scoring


    How to Make a Rubric?

    Building a rubric from scratch can seem like a daunting task, but there is no correct way to make a rubric. Below is a guideline of how to create a rubric to help get you started:

    1. Performance Elements
      • The first step is to determine what your performance elements are for the rubric.  It is helpful to think about the specific outcomes in the task that you want to assess.  It is also helpful to consider what other related experiences students have had.
      • Determine your learning objective(s)
      • Decide the format of your rubric:
        • Matrix (table) format
        • Holistic rubrics are used when performance is pass/fail or if there are many interrelated criterion.
        • Checklists can be used for assessments that are pass/fail or based on completion of tasks.  There is no scale or descriptors in checklists.
        • Analytic rubrics assess each criterion separately.
      2. Scale (columns)
      • The second step is to decide how many levels of performance (the scale) you want in your rubric.
      • Scales typically contain 3-6 levels that include descriptions and/or point values associated with each level.  Points are not required.
      • Scale levels can be adapted to meet the needs of the project.
      • The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition is a very common scale used for medical education.
        • 1)Novice, 2) Intermediate, 3) Competent,  4) Proficient,  5) Expert
      3. Descriptors/Criteria for Performance (cells)
      • To fill in the cells of your rubric, you need to consider your learning objectives and what a performance should look like.  Ask yourself what an excellent example looks like and then think about what responses along the continuum would look like.
      • These descriptions are a guide for creation and scoring.  Make sure your wording is consistent and clear for these descriptors.
        • Quantitative descriptors require a specific amount of a performance element. This is precise in what is expected but can be restrictive
        • Qualitative descriptors use adjectives which can allow more flexibility but are less precise
      • It is a good idea to have a colleague or student look over your rubric to make sure your descriptors are clear and understandable for students.
      4. Scoring
      • Rubrics can have points associated with the scale or not depending on your needs. You can weight specific performance criteria if desired.
        • Formative Assessments are for checking understanding and do not have points associated with them.
        • Summative Assessments test learning and often have points associated with them.
        • Students participation and honest reflection increases in self assessment if there are points associated with it.


      Rubrics are great assessment tools that help benefit both instructors and students on complex projects or assignments.  Here are some great resources for using rubrics in your classroom.

      Rubric Banks:
      Rubric Creation Tools:
       If you would like a more in-depth discussion of rubrics, you can watch the recorded podcast of "Creating Superior Rubrics" by Doug Adams.  The presentation slides are also available in Google Docs and can be downloaded into PowerPoint or PDF format.

      Contact TLT-EdTech (x8-7107) with questions about how to incorporate rubrics into your course.

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