Beloved of accrediting bodies, rubrics (or scoring guides as they are sometimes called) are all the rage. For many instructors, however, rubrics simply sound like more work, one thing more to do on that endless to-do list. Rubrics do require some initial investment of time and thought, but in the long run a well-designed rubric can streamline the grading process by making clear to both the instructor and students what constitutes different levels of work. Rubrics can ensure consistency in grading practices and transparency in the grading process by serving as a shared understanding of both the requirements of a project and the expectations of the instructor.
What exactly is a rubric? Briefly, it is a set of scoring
guidelines for evaluating student work. The rubric indicates
both the criteria that will be used to judge the work and
distinguishes between different levels of performance.
By identifying the criteria to be used to judge the work, a good rubric clearly identifies the instructor's expectations. And by distinguishing between different levels of performance a good rubric helps students determine how to meet those expectations. Also, because a rubric is shared with students early in the process, students become better judges of the quality of their own work and in peer review the work of others. The rubric also provides the instructor with language to give feedback on the quality of work.
Creating a Rubric
Examples of rubrics are easily found online. One key to a successful rubric, however, is that the rubric be specific to the assignment. Generalized rubrics for writing, for example, abound, such as the scoring guides we have developed for our two first-year writing courses. Click here to see our rubric for ENGL 101 and ENGL 102. For more specialized assignments, instructors will want to develop their own rubrics.
A good rubric takes time and revision to develop. Here is some basic advice for creating a rubric.
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