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Rubrics

Rubric:  A scoring scale used to assess student performance along a task-specific set of criteria; An established rule, tradition, or custom; A guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests.
 
Introduction to Rubrics
 
Getting Started
 
Questions and Actions to Develop Useful Rubric
 
Tips
 
Examples of Rubric for Assessment and Grading
 
Additional Resources
 
 
 
 
 
Introduction to Rubrics
 
Rubrics provide the criteria for assessing students' work. They can be used to assess virtually any product or behavior, such as essays, research reports, portfolios, works of art, recitals, oral presentations, performances, and group activities. Judgments can be self-assessments by students; or judgments can be made by others, such as faculty, other students, fieldwork supervisors, and external reviewers. Rubrics can be used to provide formative feedback to students, to grade students, and/or to assess courses and programs.
 
There are two major types of scoring rubrics:
            Holistic rubrics — assigns a level of performance by assessing performance across multiple criteria as a whole.
          Analytic rubrics — separate scoring of each specified criterion or learning outcome.
 
 
Rubrics have many strengths:
  • Complex products or behaviors can be examined efficiently.
  • Developing a rubric helps to precisely define faculty expectations.
  • Well-trained reviewers apply the same criteria and standards.
  • Rubrics are criterion-referenced, rather than norm-referenced. Raters ask, “Did the student meet the criteria for level 5 of the rubric?” rather than “How well did this student do compared to other students?” This is more compatible with cooperative and collaborative learning environments than competitive grading schemes and is essential when using rubrics for program assessment because you want to learn how well students have met your standards.
  • Ratings can be done by students to assess their own work, or they can be done by others, e.g., peers, fieldwork supervisions, or faculty.
 
 
Rubrics Can:
  • Speed up grading
  • Clarify expectations to students
  • Reduce student grade complaints
  • Make grading and assessment more efficient and effective by focusing the faculty member on important dimensions
  • Help faculty create better assignments that ensure that students display what you want them to demonstrate
 
 
 
Two Common Ways to Assess Learning Outcomes Using Rubrics
  1. Assess while grading.
  2. Collect evidence and assess in a group session.
 

Assessment vs. Grading Concerns
  • Grading rubrics may include criteria that are not related to the learning outcome being assessed. These criteria are used for grading, but are ignored for assessment.
  • Grading requires more precision than assessment.
  • If multiple faculty will use the rubric for grading or assessment, consider calibrating them. This is especially important when doing assessment.
 
  
Suggestions for Using Rubrics in Courses 
  • Hand out the grading rubric with the assignment so students will know your expectations and how they'll be graded.
  • Use a rubric for grading student work and return the rubric with the grading on it.
  • Develop a rubric with your students for an assignment or group project. Students can then monitor themselves and their peers using agreed-upon criteria that they helped develop. Many faculty find that students will create higher standards for themselves than faculty would impose on them.
  • Have students apply your rubric to some sample products before they create their own. Faculty report that students are quite accurate when doing this, and this process should help them evaluate their own products as they are being developed. The ability to evaluate, edit, and improve draft documents is an important skill.
  • Have students exchange paper drafts and give peer feedback using the rubric, then give students a few days before the final drafts are turned in to you. You might also require that they turn in the draft and scored rubric with their final paper.
  • Have students self-assess their products using the grading rubric and hand in the self-assessment with the product; then faculty and students can compare self- and faculty-generated evaluations.
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Getting Started
Stage 1: Reflection
  • Why this assignment is created? 
  • Have I given it before?  
  • How does it relate to the rest of the course? 
  • What skills do students need to successfully complete the assignment? 
  • What are the parts of the assignment task? 
  • What are the highest expectations I have for student achievement of this assignment? 
  • What would be the worst example of student achievement of this assignment?
Stage 2: Specify Learning Outcomes Expected
  • What are the learning outcomes that are to be demonstrated?
  • What are the skills, understandings, and attitudes of the learning outcomes required to complete the assignment?
  • What has been the preparation for this task?
  • What is the course emphasis?
  • What are my highest expectations of this evidence of achievement of the learning outcomes?
Stage 3: Grouping/Labeling/Organizing Expectations
  • Learning outcomes make up the rows of the rubric or a different rubric can be used for each learning outcome. If there are multiple outcomes being assessed within one assessment tool generally the rubric for that assessment will contain all of the outcomes.
  • Performance criteria (e.g. below expectation, meets expectation, exceeds expectation) make up the columns of the rubric.
  • Decide whether a holistic or an analytic rubric will best fit the situation

 

Stage 4: Applying Criteria and Descriptions
  • Using the performance criteria from stage 3, place the descriptions of performance under each criteria and place those in a grid for use in constructing a scoring guide. 
  • From there, descriptions (standards) may be written at different performance levels and placed under labels such as Exemplary, Competent, or Beginning, or A, B, C, D, F, or Excellent, Satisfactory, and Unsatisfactory.
Adapted from Stevens, S. & Levi, A. (2005).
Introduction to rubrics. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Questions Actions
1.   What criteria or essential elements must be present in the student’s work to ensure that it is high in quality? ​Place in row and label.
​2. How many levels of acheivement do I want to use? ​Place as columns and label.
​3. What is a clear description of performance for each criteria at each level? ​Place in appropriate cells.
​4. What are the consequences of performing at each level of quality? ​Include in descriptions of criteria.
​5. Will this rubric be used for grading as well as assessment? If so, what is the weighting scheme for grading with the rubric? (note: the grading scheme may vary from instructor to instructor which does NOT have an impact on the assessment) ​Indicate weights to the criteria.
​6. When I use the rubric, what aspects work well? What aspects need improvement? ​Revise accordingly.
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Creating a Rubric 
 
Generally, most people find it easier to start at the extremes when drafting the criteria in the rubric's cells, and then move up and down to draft the levels in the middle. Starting at teh lowest and highest cells, you ask:
    1. What are the characteristics of an unacceptable product, the worst product you could imagine, a product that results when students are very weak on the outcome being assessed?
    2. What are the cahracteristics of a product that would be exemplary, that would exceed your expectations, which would result when the student is an expert on the outcome being assessed.
Some helpful words: (in)complete, (in)accurate, (un)reasonable, detailed, thorough, creative, original, subtle, sophisticated, synthesizes, integrates, analyzes, minor/major conceptual errors, flexibility, adaptability, complexity of thought, clarity, well-documented, well-supported, professional, organized, insightful, relevant
   
 
How Many Levels are Needed
 
There are no specific numbers of levels a rubric should or should not possess. It will vary depending on the assessment and your needs. A rubric can have as few as two levels of performance (e.g., a checklist) or as many as many as deemed appropriate. There is also no rule that states a rubric must have an even or odd number of levels. The rubric should again contain whatever is appropriate for the assessment and will depend on the situation.
 

Typical Three-Point Rubric Levels

Below Expectations: Student's demonstrated level of understanding clearly does not meet expectations. Major ideas may be missing, inaccurate, or irrelevant to the task.

Meets Expectations: Student meets expectations and performs at alevel acceptable for graduation, demonstrates good understanding, etc.

Exceeds Expectations: Student exceeds our expectations, performs at a sophisticated level, identifies subtle nuances, develops fresh insights, integrates ideas in creative ways, etc.

Typical Four-Point Rubric Level

Below Expectations: Student's demonstrated level of understanding clearly does not meet our expectations. Major ideas may be missing, inaccurate, or irrelevant to the task.
 
Needs Improvement: Student needs to demonstrate a deeper understanding to meet our expectations, but does show some understanding; student may not fully develop ideas or may use concepts incorrectly.
 
Meets Expectations: Student meets our expectations, performs at a level acceptable for graduation, demonstrates good understanding, etc.
 
Exceeds Expectations: Student exceeds our expectations, performs at a sophisticated level, identifies subtle nuances, develops fresh insights, integrates ideas in creative ways, etc.
 
Sample Rubric Category Labels
 
Below Expectations, Developing, Acceptable, Exemplary
Novice, Apprentice, Proficient, Expert
Emerging, Developing, Proficient, Insightful
Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, Advanced (AAC&U Board of Directors, Our Students Best Work, 2004)

 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Example of Rubric for Assessing and Grading
 
Here’s an assessment rubric—an analytic rubric that can be used to assess three (3) learning outcomes related to an oral presentation.
 
Rubric for Assessing Oral Presentations
 
Below Expectation
Satisfactory
Exemplary
 
Organization
No apparent organization. Evidence is not used to support assertions.
 
The presentation has a focus and provides some evidence which supports conclusions.
 
The presentation is carefully organized and provides convincing evidence to support conclusions.
Content
The content is inaccurate or overly general. Listeners are unlikely to learn anything or may be misled.
 
 
The content is generally accurate, but incomplete. Listeners may learn some isolated facts, but they are unlikely to gain new insights about the topic.
The content is accurate and complete. Listeners are likely to gain new insights about the topic.
 
 
Delivery
The speaker appears anxious and uncomfortable, and reads notes, rather than speaks. Listeners are largely ignored.
The speaker is generally relaxed and comfortable, but too often relies on notes. Listeners are sometimes ignored or misunderstood.
The speaker is relaxed and comfortable, speaks without undue reliance on notes, and interacts effectively with listeners.
 
 
 
 
Alternative Format 1
In this example, points are assigned and used for grading, as shown below, and the categories (Below Expectation, Satisfactory, Exemplary) can be used for assessment. Faculty who share an assessment rubric might:
 
·         Assign points in different ways, depending on the nature of their courses
·         Decide to add more rows for course-specific criteria or comments.
 
Notice how this rubric allows faculty, who may not be experts on oral presentation skills, to give detailed feedback to students. This feedback describes present skills and indicates what students should do to improve. Effective rubrics can help faculty reduce the time they spend grading and eliminate the need to repeatedly write the same comments to multiple students.
 
 
 
Rubric for Grading Oral Presentations
 
Below Expectation
Satisfactory
Exemplary
 
Score
 
Organization
No apparent organization. Evidence is not used to support assertions.
 
 
(0-4)
The presentation has a focus and provides some evidence which supports conclusions.
 
 
(5-6)
The presentation is carefully organized and provides convincing evidence to support conclusions.
 
(7-8)
 
Content
The content is inaccurate or overly general. Listeners are unlikely to learn anything or may be misled.
 
 
(0-8)
The content is generally accurate, but incomplete. Listeners may learn some isolated facts, but they are unlikely to gain new insights about the topic.
 
 
(9-11)
The content is accurate and complete. Listeners are likely to gain new insights about the topic.
 
 
 
 
(12-13)
 
Delivery
The speaker appears anxious and uncomfortable, and reads notes, rather than speaks. Listeners are largely ignored.
(0-5)
The speaker is generally relaxed and comfortable, but too often relies on notes. Listeners are sometimes ignored or misunderstood.
(6-7)
The speaker is relaxed and comfortable, speaks without undue reliance on notes, and interacts effectively with listeners.
 
(8-9)
 
Total Score
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alternative Format 2
Weights are used for grading; categories (Below Expectation, Satisfactory, Exemplary) can be used for assessment. Individual faculty determine how to assign weights for their course grading. Faculty may circle or underline material in the cells to emphasize criteria that were particularly important during the assessment/grading, and they may add a section for comments or other grading criteria.
 
 
Rubric for Grading Oral Presentations
 
Below Expectation
Satisfactory
Exemplary
 
Weight
 
Organization
No apparent organization. Evidence is not used to support assertions.
 
The presentation has a focus and provides some evidence which supports conclusions.
 
The presentation is carefully organized and provides convincing evidence to support conclusions
 
30%
Content
The content is inaccurate or overly general. Listeners are unlikely to learn anything or may be misled.
 
The content is generally accurate, but incomplete. Listeners may learn some isolated facts, but they are unlikely to gain new insights about the topic.
The content is accurate and complete. Listeners are likely to gain new insights about the topic.
 
 
 
50%
Delivery
The speaker appears anxious and uncomfortable, and reads notes, rather than speaks. Listeners are largely ignored.
The speaker is generally relaxed and comfortable, but too often relies on notes. Listeners are sometimes ignored or misunderstood.
The speaker is relaxed and comfortable, speaks without undue reliance on notes, and interacts effectively with listeners.
 
 
 
20%
Comments
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alternative Format 3
 
In this example, the faculty member checks off characteristics of the speech and determines the grade based on a holistic judgment. The categories (Below Expectation, Satisfactory, Exemplary) can be used for assessment.
 
 
Rubric for Grading Oral Presentations
 
Below Expectation
Satisfactory
Exemplary
 
Organization
*      No apparent organization.
*      Evidence is not used to support assertions.
 
*      The presentation has a focus.
*      Student provides some evidence which supports conclusions.
*      The presentation is carefully organized.
*      Speaker provides convincing evidence to support conclusions
Content
*      The content is inaccurate or overly general.
*      Listeners are unlikely to learn anything or may be misled.
 
*      The content is generally accurate, but incomplete.
*      Listeners may learn some isolated facts, but they are unlikely to gain new insights about the topic.
*      The content is accurate and complete.
*      Listeners are likely to gain new insights about the topic.
 
Delivery
*      The speaker appears anxious and uncomfortable.
*      Speaker reads notes, rather than speaks.
*       Listeners are largely ignored.
*      The speaker is generally relaxed and comfortable.
*      Speaker too often relies on notes.
*      Listeners are sometimes ignored or misunderstood.
*      The speaker is relaxed and comfortable.
*      Speaker speaks without undue reliance on notes.
*      Speaker interacts effectively with listeners.
Comments:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alternative Format 4
Combinations of Various Ideas. As long as the nine assessment cells are used in the same way by all faculty, grading and assessment can be done simultaneously (with the grading remaining individualized by faculty member). Additional criteria for grading can be added, as shown below.
 
Rubric for Grading Oral Presentations
 
Below Expectation
1
Satisfactory
2
Exemplary
3
 
Weight
Organization
*      No apparent organization.
*      Evidence is not used to support assertions.
 
*      The presentation has a focus.
*      Speaker provides some evidence which supports conclusions.
*      The presentation is carefully organized.
*      Speaker provides convincing evidence to support conclusions
 
 
20%
Content
*      The content is inaccurate or overly general.
*      Listeners are unlikely to learn anything or may be misled.
 
*      The content is generally accurate, but incomplete.
*      Listeners may learn some isolated facts, but they are unlikely to gain new insights about the topic.
*      The content is accurate and complete.
*      Listeners are likely to gain new insights about the topic.
 
 
 
40%
Delivery
*      The speaker appears anxious and uncomfortable.
*      Speaker reads notes, rather than speaks.
*       Listeners are largely ignored.
*      The speaker is generally relaxed and comfortable.
*      Speaker too often relies on notes.
*      Listeners are sometimes ignored or misunderstood.
*      The speaker is relaxed and comfortable.
*      Speaker speaks without undue reliance on notes.
*      Speaker interacts effectively with listeners.
 
 
20%
References
*      Speaker fails to integrate journal articles into the speech.
*      Speaker integrates 1 or 2 journal articles into the speech.
*      Speaker integrates 3 or more journal articles into the speech.
 
20%
 

 
CONSTRUCTING USEFUL AND HIGH QUALITY RUBRICS
 
 
 
Four Key Stages
 
 
            Stage 1            Reflection  (Pre-Design)*
                 Questions:  Why this assignment is created? 
Have I given it before?  
How does it relate to the rest of the course? 
What skills do students need to successfully complete the assignment? 
What are the parts of the assignment task? 
What are the highest expectations I have for student achievement of this assignment? 
What would be the worst example of student achievement of this assignment?
 
 
 
            Stage 2            Specify Learning Outcomes Expected (1st step)*
                 Questions:  What are the learning outcomes that are to be demonstrated?
What are the skills, understandings, and attitudes of the learning outcomes required to complete the assignment?
What has been the preparation for this task?
What is the course emphasis?
What are my highest expectations of this evidence of achievement of the learning outcomes?
 
 
 
            Stage 3            Grouping/Labeling/Organizing Expectations
Using criteria as categories for performance expectations, organize similar expectations into groups with criteria as labels for each.  (analytic)
 
Another approach is to organize the performance expectations under different learning outcomes with those LO’s as the labels and levels of performance as the columns. (holistic)
 
 
 
 
            Stage 4            Applying Criteria and Descriptions
 
Using the criteria, place the descriptions of performance into lists under each criteria and place those in a grid for use in constructing a scoring guide. 
 
From there, descriptions (standards) may be written at different performance levels and placed under labels such as Exemplary, Competent, or Beginning, or A, B, C, D, F, or Excellent, Satisfactory, and Unsatisfactory.
 
Some find it easier to begin with the highest expectations and some find it easier to describe the lowest performance descriptions first.  Experiment with your rubrics, and use rubrics of others to begin your processes.    
 
*Stages 1 & 2 are very powerful when conducted with learners!  Everyone learns from the processes. 
 
Adapted from Stevens, S. & Levi, A.  (2005). Introduction to rubrics.  Sterling, VA: Stylus.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
DEVELOPING USEFUL RUBRICS:
QUESTIONS TO ASK AND ACTIONS TO IMPLEMENT
 
      QUESTIONS                                                                               ACTION(S)
 
1.     What criteria or essential elements must              Place in rows
      be present in the student’s work to ensure                   and label
      that it is high in quality?
 
2.     How many levels of achievement do I want                   Place as columns
     to use?                                                                 and label
 
3.     What is a clear description of performance                   Place in
     for each criteria at each level?                              appropriate cells
 
4.     What are the consequences of performing            Include in
at each level of quality                                        descriptions of criteria
 
5.  What is the weighting scheme for grading with    Indicate weights
      the rubric                                                            to the criteria
 
6.      When I use the rubric, what aspects work well? Revise accordingly
What aspects need improvement?   
 
 
 
 
 
REFLECTION TO DETERMINE EFFECTIVENESS OF RUBRIC
 
Ø Does the rubric help me to distinguish among the levels of quality in students’ work?
 
Ø Are there too many or too few levels of achievement specified?
 
Ø Are the descriptions of performance incomplete or unclear?
 
Ø Are there important aspects of the task missing from the rubric?
 
Ø Do the criteria reflect the content or mastery of the knowledge associated with the student work?
 
Ø Is the process of achieving the learning outcome reflected in the rubric?
 
Ø Will the rubric help students be successful in the learning and assessment processes?
 
Ø Will the rubric help students understand the assessment and evaluation process?
 
Ø Will the rubric provide useful guidance and feedback to students?
 
(Adapted from Huba, M., & Freed, J. (2000). Learner-centered assessment on college campuses.  Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Involving Learners in Rubric Construction:  Advantages
 
·       Clarity (prevents misunderstandings and misinterpretations)
·       Ownership (students become “stakeholders” in the assessment process)
·       Feedback (immediately assesses student learning)
·       Efficiency (student help with the task; the task is both pedagogical and assessment focused)
·       Motivation (greater student involvement in assignment tasks)
 
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
 
          Chapter 5,  Driscoll & Wood ( 2007): designing criteria & standards, implications for teaching
 
          Chapter 7,  Allen (2004): more “how to”s for different types of rubrics,  and examples of each type
 
          Chapter 9,  Suskie (2009) :  different types of rubrics (checklists, rating scales, descriptive scales and structured observation guides)