Fair evaluation of subjective work is an issue faced by many classroom teachers. Rubrics offer an equitable manner in which to apply objective standards to seemingly subjective assignments. This week, we offer tips dealing with the definition, purpose, and types of rubrics.
This Week's Tips
Rubrics Defined (Monday)
What is a rubric? A rubric is a guide, usually presented as a chart, which identifies and describes various levels of performance on any given assignment. The evaluated components aid in determining average, above average, or below average performance in a specific or general manner. Helpful to both students and teachers, rubrics can be created and applied to virtually any student product.
Subjective Work; Objective Clarity (Tuesday)
Building a rubric allows a teacher to visualize the “A” product. It also diffuses the focus of evaluation across the spectrum of capabilities within a group of students. As teachers determine the qualities of “B,” “C,” and “D” products, they invest thought in the assignment, which builds validity and connection to the curriculum for all students, weak or strong. While rubrics strengthen teacher assessment, the creation of rubrics also provides an opportunity for teachers to predict problem areas before the problems arise.
Rubrics Remove Guesswork (Wednesday)
While rubrics are important as teacher assessment and instructional tools, they are also important to students. Rubrics are shared with students before product development begins, thus removing guesswork from students’ minds. Through clearly defined components, students determine the requirements of a specific assignment grade, allowing them to choose, when capable, their level of productivity. Rubrics are enabling; through well designed rubrics students are equipped to set and meet academic goals.
Rubrics and Levels (Thursday)
Decide the number of levels to include on a given rubric. Five is a common number of levels on a rubric with simple translation to the A – F scale. Three levels correspond to an average, above average, and below average translation. Some rubrics have as many as six levels, which may include the following headings: superior, above average, average, progressing, below average, incomplete. Regardless of the levels and the chosen descriptors, the rubric should work to raise student performance, as students clearly understand the indicators for each level of the rubric.
General and Specific Rubrics (Friday)
Choose a general or specific rubric depending on your objectives. A general rubric may be used in any subject for virtually any assignment; the descriptors for each level are applicable to numerous learning situations. Rubrics designed to assess listening, following directions, group participation, and class preparedness are examples of general rubrics. Specific rubrics deal with content-based material. For example, a physical education teacher may develop a six-level rubric with descriptors for six levels of basketball play. An English teacher may create a writing rubric with five levels of application of writing skills.