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This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Do you remember marking final evaluations last session? Did you say to yourself, “Never again”? Never again will I give that assignment because it is too long to grade. Do you spend time going over the copies you have just graded because the last copy you read made you realise that there were criteria that you had forgotten to take into account?

If you have a love-hate relationship with marking, might I suggest using rubrics?

Advantages of using rubrics

  • Make the grading process more transparent (appears more objective and fair to students)
  • Help ensure consistent and uniform grading from one copy to the next
  • Expedite the grading process
  • When rubrics are given to students at the time an assignment is made, students can use them to better understand expectations for the assignment and then monitor and regulate their work
  • Can be used to grade a variety of assignments, skills, behaviours and attitudes (such essays, metacognition, oral presentations, critical thinking, respect, portfolios, projects and thinking and reasoning)
  • Can be used across a range of disciplines
  • Help improve the consistency of scoring across all sections of a course when there are different teachers

Sample rubric for peer assessment of group work. Source

Features of a good rubric

  • Clearly worded and easy to understand from both a student and staff perspective
  • Sufficiently concise to not be overwhelming to students and staff
  • Drafted from the learning outcomes set (from the Devis or Plan cadre)
  • Accurately represents the content delivered to students
  • Measures what it is intended to measure: validity
  • Produces stable and consistent results every time it is used: reliability

What goes into a rubric?

Rubrics are presented in a table format and usually include:

  • A description of the task that is being evaluated
  • The criteria (row headings) being evaluated
  • A rating scale (column headings) describing levels of quality from excellent to poor
  • A description of each level of performance for each criterion (within each box of the table)

General rubrics should be written with descriptive language, as opposed to evaluative language (e.g., excellent, poor) because descriptive language helps students envision where they are in their learning and where they should go next.

Another important way to characterize rubrics is whether they are analytic or holistic. Analytic rubrics consider criteria one at a time, which means they are better for feedback to students (Arter and McTighe, 2001; Arter and Chappuis, 2006; Brookhart, 2013; Brookhart and Nitko, 2019). Holistic criteria consider all the criteria simultaneously, requiring only one decision on one scale. This means they are better for grading, for times when students will not need to use feedback, because making only one decision is quicker and less cognitively demanding than making several. Susan M. Brookhart

Using digital rubric generators

Rubrics disseminated via technology can facilitate more real-time insights for your students. Here are some ideas and tools that you can use to create your own rubrics:

iRubric

Their homepage touts iRubric as a rubric development, assessment, and sharing tool. It is free to individual faculty and students. You can even send students a copy of the scored rubric securely… no more paperwork, no more calculations.  A rubric can be built from scratch or from existing rubrics.

Rubistar

RubiStar is a free online rubric maker to help the teacher who wants to use rubrics but does not have the time to develop them from scratch. It can help you create rubrics for your project-based learning activities. Customizable rubric templates are offered on a variety of topics such as: oral projects, multimedia, math, work skills, science and art. Spanish teachers can use the Spanish version to develop their rubrics.

In RubiStar, when you use the drop down menu for template categories, the various point value placements will be auto-filled with the appropriate student performance standard that can be modified.

Quick Rubric

Contrary to the 2 previous rubric generators, Quick Rubric offers a blank template that you can tailor to your weighting system, the number of descriptors that you need and the language that you prefer. You can save rubrics to your free account. They also provide Tips to writing a strong rubric.

Moodle rubrics

Get rid of your paper evaluation grids and create a rubric in Moodle. One of its best features is that when students click on an assignment, which has a rubric attached to it, they will see the rubric as part of the information about their assignment. For a step-by-step guide on how to use rubrics in Moodle, you can consult this documentation or this video tutorial.

5-minute tutorial on how to use Moodle’s advanced grading feature to create a rubric

VALUE Rubric Development Project

Teams of faculty and other educational professionals from over 100 higher education institutions developed 16 rubrics from the most frequently identified characteristics or criteria of learning for several common higher education learning outcomes. Drafts of each rubric were then tested by faculty with their own students’ work on over 100 college campuses.

You can download and use the 16 rubrics (free, but you must sign in) based on learning outcomes such as critical thinking, oral or written communication, creative thinking, ethical reasoning and teamwork the rubrics, or use them for inspiration in creating your own.

Final thoughts

Finally, it is important to note that after the first use of your rubric, you will have to evaluate it and most probably revise it as needed.

If rubrics are clear and properly aligned to the course’s learning outcomes they will clearly communicate the expectations for an assignment. Not only will you be able to evaluate more efficiently and effectively but also the students will be able to use rubrics to understand what makes a good assignment “good” and a poor assignment “poor”.

Are there other rubric generators that you have tried?

About the author

Susan MacNeil

She has had a busy career in education. With a M.Ed she taught all levels from kindergarten to university. However, most of her career was spent at the college level teaching ESL. She gave Performa courses, lead workshops at SPEAQ, RASCALS and l’AQPC. She served at the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur where she contributed to the evaluation of the general education components. She received grants from L’Entente Canada-Québec for various
research projects. Susan is also the recipient of the AQPC Mention d’honneur Award. Having retired from teaching she became a contributor to Real Life Stories of education technology integration at Eductive. Chinese ink painting helps her relax and travel keeps her energized.

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