Rubrics in Learning

  • Anagha Vallikat
    Anagha Vallikat

A rubric is a specific set of conditions or criteria that are used for assessing the performance of a bunch of people, in much more detail.  The present article focuses on the applications of rubric in the education sector. A rubric can be implemented as an extensive learning and assessment tool.  Rubrics allow objective evaluation. These can be used as a scoring tool that defines the performance expectations of teachers for an assignment or task by their students.

Types of Rubrics

Rubrics can be broadly classified into two types, viz. Holistic Rubrics and Analytic Rubrics.

A holistic rubric is typically more reliable, intuitive and efficient to score. It also requires minimum training for implementation and evaluation of scores.  It is much simpler for students to understand. It is most often used to evaluate a single trait.

The analytics rubric, on the other hand, provides more specific feedback to students. It helps them get a greater insight into their strengths and weaknesses. All in all, the analytic rubric provides students better instructions for learning and improving their performance.

Perks of Using Rubrics for Evaluation

Teachers might consider developing and using rubric for many reasons.

  • It reduces the amount of time teachers spend on the evaluation process and scoring their students. Furthermore, it reduces the workload of teachers. Often it is very stressful for teachers to complete the evaluation process in a stipulated time. Teachers need to check a lot of assignments within a short time period. Rubrics save teachers from this stress, as the scoring gets done in much less time.
  • It saves the effort of writing the same comments for a common assignment given to different students. Sometimes filling up individual assignment reports can get very boring. A rubric, for teachers, is a short-cut, but much more effective scoring tool.
  • A rubric helps in communicating the specific scoring pattern that a teacher wishes to follow for evaluating students. It provides clarity to students about the teacher’s expectations. Thus, the scope for confusion and ambiguity related to assignments is less.
  • It provides information on the components of the marking scheme of a teacher, both prior to and following the assignment submission. Students, right from the beginning, get a clear picture of how to proceed with the assignment provided. This helps them to complete the assignment effectively.
  • It allows teachers to score their students in a much more consistent way. Thus, it is a comparatively more unbiased way of evaluating students. Using rubrics ensures that students won’t doubt teachers' scoring methods and patterns.
  • Rubrics also help teachers identify their students’ weaknesses and strengths appropriately.

Just like teachers, students also benefit from rubric in multiple ways.

  • It allows students to focus on completing assignments efficiently, as per the expectations of their instructor.  Hence, a rubric allows students to use the teacher’s feedback to improve their performance.
  • It helps students monitor and assess their development, as they work towards achieving specific goals with clear instructions.
  • Students are able to recognize their strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject through the rubrics assessment. Basically, it helps them come up with new strategies to increase their performance to channelize their efforts accordingly.

Get on board with rubrics

A few simple steps are required to get started with rubrics.

Clarify task or performance expectations: The very first step is to define what exactly you, as a teacher, want from your students. In other words, specify the standard of performance that you are expecting from your students.

Identify the components or dimensions for the rubric assessment: In this step, the teachers need to identify what their students are supposed to demonstrate. The characteristics of student performances can be skills, knowledge or behavior. These are the components or dimensions for a rubric assessment.

Allocation of scores for each level: This step requires identification of expertise, wherein teachers have to decide how much advancement is needed for each performance component or dimension. Having that done, teachers need to decide what score should be allocated for each level.

Describing the performance characteristics: As a student’s performance graph moves upward, previous level descriptions are considered achieved in subsequent levels. This step describes the standard of performance required to achieve a specific mastery level for each component or dimension.

Evaluate the rubric: Similar to any instructional tool, the rubric needs to be evaluated each time it is used. This ensures that the rubric matches instructional goals and objectives. If possible, ask for a colleague’s review for further improvements in your rubric. You must ask for students’ feedback also to ensure that they completely understand how the rubric works. It helps them use the rubric to their advantage. Consider providing more details so that they have clarity on each section of the rubric.

Conclusion

A rubric acts as an excellent scoring tool that allows an unbiased, objective and consistent assessment of a range of tasks, performances, assignments or activities. It helps teachers to clarify their expectations and guide students on how to meet those. Rubrics come in an easy format that can be designed keeping a few things in mind. The feedback provided to students through the evaluation using a rubric helps them improve their subsequent performances. Moreover, several online sources exist which can be used for designing a scoring rubric. Even for online assessment, an online rubric can be used. Thus, it offers a great amount of flexibility for teachers and students as well. The benefits of using a rubric for the assessment of learning are manifold. Last but not the least, when students get involved in the process of developing a rubric, it can allow them to become self-directed, which in turn can improve the ways of learning.