There is a good chance that most of you reading this have used a rubric in your life. Whether you have used one as a faculty member or as a student, a rubric typically has the same universal structure. The rubric you have used probably looks something like this:
Why use a rubric though? What purpose does it serve? You may have asked yourself that same question.
Ultimately, a rubric is a powerful tool for assessment. They help students become more thoughtful judges of the quality of their own work and others work as well. Rubrics also dramatically reduce the amount of time teachers spend on evaluating student work. Finally, they are easy to use and explain.
Typically, there are four parts to a rubric. Those four parts include the following:
- Task Description – Involves a “performance” of some sort by the student. The task can take the form of either a specific assignment or overall behavior.
- Scale – Describes how well or poorly any given task has been performed.
- Dimensions – This is where you lay out the parts of the task simply and completely. They should actually represent the type of component skills students must combine in a successful scholarly work.
- Description of the Dimensions – A rubric should contain at the very least a description or the highest level of performance in that dimension. However, you should strive to also create descriptions for all levels of performance.
You should also consider these steps when creating your own rubric:
- Identify the characteristics of what you are assessing.
- Describe the best and worst work you could expect using these characteristics (this describes the top category).
- Describe an unacceptable product.
- Develop descriptions of intermediate-level products and assign them to those categories.
- Ask for colleague feedback!
Finally, after everything has been said and done, your rubric might look something like this:
Your rubric could easily look different. It could have more dimensions, it might have a different scale, or you might now allow for comments at all. Your rubric should be tailored towards the information you are grading. Whatever your rubric looks like though, make sure it is well structured and easy to follow. Remember, chances are students will study these rubrics closely, so make sure you have a well-crafted one!
Some information and pictures based off the following:
Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback, and Promote Student Learning by Stevens and Levi 2005; Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Allen 2004; and Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses: shifting the focus from teaching to learning by Huba and Freed 2000