Rubrics help instructors grade consistently and quickly, and they provide students with specific feedback on strengths and weaknesses. Rubrics, when well-aligned, reinforce learning objectives. All instructors – all humans – have biases, and rubrics can mitigate against bias since they “aim to minimize differences among readers” (Bean, 2011). They can be tricky, however, as it’s easy to make an overly complicated rubric that neither saves you time nor provides scores that make sense to instructors or students.
You may wish to invite students to help you create rubrics, generating student engagement with assignment objectives. It may be helpful to share samples of successful completed assignments as you and your students craft criteria and language for learning goals.
Rubrics do not wholly erase bias, and they may mask teacher subjectivity and imply more precision in evaluation than is typically realistic (Broad, 2003). Furthermore, rubrics are often too precise, detailed and complicated, resulting in too much work for instructors, feedback that students can’t digest, or final scores that feel off when compared to holistic judgment. Be wary of overly long rubrics.
You can create rubrics using whatever point scale you choose as part of your strategy to demonstrate the relative weight of a particular assignment. Creating rubrics through Canvas [link] makes for fast evaluation and saves time because you can reuse Canvas rubrics you have created in other courses. For more information, check out this video [link].
Bean (2011) outlines four types of rubrics (which can be mixed and matched):
- Analytic: assigns separate scores for each criteria or learning objective and can weigh some criteria more heavily than others.
- Holistic: views the paper as a whole to determine objectives and clarity.
- Task-Specific: “designed to fit an individual assignment or genre.”
Generic: follows a “one-size-fits-all design, aimed for use across a variety of writing tasks” (p. 256).
Task-specific rubric (100 points):
|Needs Additional Work
|Defining & Applying Text Terms||Exceeds criteria at an impressive level||Meets criteria well||Meets some criteria, but can be uneven||Meets few criteria|
|Evaluating & Arguing Text Claims||Exceeds criteria at an impressive level||Meets criteria well||Meets some criteria, but can be uneven||Meets few criteria|
|Integrating & Analyzing New Sources||Exceeds criteria at an impressive level||Meets criteria well||Meets some criteria, but can be uneven||Meets few criteria|
|Creating Proposed Solutions to Problems||Exceeds criteria at an impressive level||Meets criteria well||Meets some criteria, but can be uneven||Meets few criteria|
The next rubric below is a generic, holistic rubric, including assessment of both general assignment objectives as well as standard writing expectations:
Holistic Writing Rubric
A-grade papers meet all of the following:
- Responds effectively to assignment requirements, answering the prompt and exceeding criteria.
- Presents information clearly, demonstrating effective comprehension of course concepts through sophisticated discussion or analysis.
- Fully develops and supports essay’s core ideas with evidence and reasoning.
- Uses varied, relevant, effectively integrated, and appropriately documented sources
- Uses effective organization with strong paragraphing and impressive transitions.
- Uses clear and articulate prose, showing varied syntax and no errors.
B-grade papers meet the majority of the following:
- Responds to the major assignment requirements, answering the prompt and meeting criteria.
- Presents information clearly, revealing clear comprehension of course concepts.
- Supports core ideas of the essay with evidence, reasoning, and analysis, although some need development.
- Integrates and appropriately documents relevant sources.
- Provides appropriate organization, with clear paragraphing and transitions.
- Uses clear prose, with only minor errors that do not detract from overall meaning.
C-grade papers meet one or more of the following:
- Responds to the majority of the assignment requirements, although some might be lacking.
- Presents information reasonably well, revealing understanding of most course concepts but with some misreading or superficial application.
- Partially supports ideas with evidence but needs more reasoning and/or analysis.
- Uses sources that are not always relevant, efficiently integrated, and/or documented consistently.
- Attempts organization, but some paragraphing or sequencing is weak, making it hard to follow at times.
- Uses generally readable prose with moments that lack clarity and/or have distracting errors.
D-grade papers meet one or more of the following:
- Does not the majority of the assignment requirements.
- Provides information that reveals a misunderstanding of major course concepts.
- Does not support ideas with evidence and/or lacks reasoning or analysis.
- Does not use or document relevant sources.
- Organizes in a confusing manner or lacks clear paragraphing.
- Uses prose with grammatical or syntactical issues that detract from meaning and confuse readers.
F-grade papers meet one or more of the following:
- Does not meet any assignment requirements.
- Presents information that reveals a severe misunderstanding of course concepts.
- Does not support ideas with evidence, and offers no reasoning or analysis.
- Does not use sources.
- Does not organize or paragraph clearly.
- Uses unreadable prose with grammatical and syntactical issues that severely detract from meaning.
Downloadable rubrics from AAC&U (American Association of Colleges and Universities), organized by category.
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