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Using Grading Rubrics

Using Grading Rubrics

17 May, 2016

Creating and discussing specific characteristics of success when an assignment is first given is beneficial to both students and instructors.

Creating grading rubrics, or grids, is a common way to do this. After receiving the criteria with an assignment, students can write toward specific goals. Later, when they look at their grades, they can see at a glance the strengths and weaknesses of their work. Instructors can grade based on customized descriptive criteria that reflect the intention of a specific assignment and won’t change according to the hour of night or the amount of effort a particular student is suspected of expending.

Rubrics can also save on grading time, as they let instructors to detail comments on one or two elements and simply indicate ratings on others. Finally, grading rubrics are priceless in courses that involve more than one instructor, as in team-taught or multi-sectioned courses, because they make sure that all instructors are measuring work by the same standards.

The process of creating a grading rubric takes a little time, but it is relatively simple.

Here’s a Sample Grading Rubric.

Step One: Identify Criteria.

The first step involved in making assignment-specific rubrics is revisiting an assignment’s intended results. These objectives can be considered, prioritized, and reworded to create a rubric’s criteria. If, for example, you assign a literature review hoping students might become skilled at reducing difficult texts down to pithy summaries, “concise summary” can be one of the grading criteria included in the rubric.

Take care to keep the list of criteria from becoming unwieldy; ten ranked items is usually the upper limit. Additionally, to be usefully translated and used by students, criteria should be specific and descriptive. Criteria like “clear,” “organized” and “interesting” don’t mean much to students when they sit down to revise.

Step Two: Weigh Criteria.

Once you have identified criteria, make decisions about their varying value. Say, for example, you are a geography instructor who has assigned an essay to assist students become skilled at making concrete and accurate observation-based descriptions, practiced in analyzing their data and in devising a land-use proposal, and can create correctly-formatted, error-free prose. When creating a grading rubric for that assignment, you will have to choose on the relative weight of each criterion. Is the error-free prose objective equal to the analysis objective?

Step Three: Describe Levels Of Success.

After setting the criteria, devise an assessment scale. Many instructors like to restrict this section of the rubric to a three-point scale (“weak,” “satisfactory,” “strong”). Others may prefer to break this down into five or six levels, including categories like “needs extensive revision” or “outstanding.”

Step Four: Create And Distribute The Grid.

When you have named and ranked the specific criteria and levels of success, categorize them into a table and distribute the table with the assignment.