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Getting started with rubrics

March 8, 2012

rubricAn assessment rubric is a set of guidelines that helps teachers distinguish different levels of quality in student work. The teacher describes a learning task, defines key outcomes, and sets standards for performance.

Rubrics are a concise way to convey your expectations to your students. After all, as a student, it’s much easier to perform exceptionally, if you know exactly what your professor thinks “exceptional” work looks like.

That quote is from an article at TCU eLearning – a great “first read” if you’ve always wanted to know more about rubrics. The three major projects in my multimedia course each have rubrics, and I find them invaluable: Podcast project | Image portfolio | Blog project.

NOTE: It’s critical that students see a rubric before they begin to work on the assignment!

Most people print rubrics on paper, but there are a few online rubric tools, including Rubistar. At Notre Dame we are looking into iRubric, which may integrate with our new collaboration and learning environment. I’m really surprised that a wider choice of software tools is not available for managing rubrics. Have any of you readers had success with one of these systems?

Introduction to Rubrics - book coverAdditional resources for learning about rubrics:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2012 3:38 pm

    I’d like to offer that rubrics can be much more than teacher tools, they can be powerful tools for student self-assessment. If the onus for the rubric design, development, and anchoring lies entirely with the teacher, it’s likely the student will be focused on quality vis-a-vis the teacher’s opinion, not quality writ large. That is, quality shouldn’t be about what Ms. X thinks a quality written response looks like, rather what makes for a quality written response? When rubrics are anchored with real world examples, it’s that much easier for students to connect their work to the so called real world.

    Additionally, the challenge with sites like iRubric and Rubistar is that there is little to no quality control over the rubrics provided. In truth, many of them documents are in fact, side by side checklists.

  2. March 9, 2012 2:59 pm

    I’ve been using grading rubrics since I first started teaching, but I’ve recently started incorporating them more directly into my grading process by breaking down my comments according to the criteria in the rubric. My partner is a web developer, and we’ve been working on a piece of software that’s based on the idea of grading with a rubric. Although it won’t create a rubric for you, this software, which we call GradeMatrix, will create a grading template and will sort feedback and calculate grades based on the way you evaluate students’ performance in each rubric category. We’re still making improvements, but if you’d be interested in testing a beta-release of GradeMatrix, you can email us at freedj[at]gmail[dot]com.

  3. March 9, 2012 11:48 am

    Thanks for mentioning us!

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