Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Performance Assessment and Rubrics/Student Creation
Involving Students in Writing Rubrics
by Lisa Castellano
"Educators are asking—and rightfully so — whether rubrics enhance or stifle learning and teaching" - Barry Gilmore
After reading this article, readers should be able to define a rubric, be able to describe how to involve students in the rubric writing process, and state at least two reasons why it is advantageous for students to write rubrics
What is a rubric
Used primarily as a performance assessment for academic assignments, especially writing, “a rubric is a document that lists criteria and describes varying levels of quality, from excellent to poor, for a specific assignment” (Andrade, 2007). Usually presented when an assignment is originally given, a rubric delineates expectations for students. A rubric could also give deadlines for completing portions of a large assignment.
Why Should Students Design Rubrics?
If students understand the criteria necessary to produce an exemplary product, “their own standards tend to increase” (Skillings & Ferrell, 2000, p. 455). Students, who help to develop the standards for work in their own classroom, increase their confidence in their ability to learn (Skillings & Ferrell, 2000, p. 455). Another benefit of involving students in the process of creating rubrics is that it “empowers them in the development of critical thinking skills” (Skillings & Ferrell, 2000, p. 455). If students are permitted to help create a rubric, their understanding of an assignment is increased and they “are empowered to become self-directed learners” (Why Use Rubrics). Further, the process of writing a rubric helps students to “better understand and become actively involved in the educational cycle: concept, teaching, mastery, and assessment” (Leonhardt, 2005).
Involving Students in Writing Rubrics
Normally, a teacher is the person who develops a rubric for an assignment. However, a teacher may choose to involve students in developing criteria for a rubric. A teacher, for instance, could present examples of a project and ask students questions about the quality of each example. Students would have to define what made one example better than another, why one was not outstanding, but not poor either. This not only helps students to improve their questioning skills, but “through these conversations, students learn to recognize the kind of questions that are needed to address the essential question [topic assignment] and complete their projects” (Yoshina & Harada, 2007).
|1. Name an endangered species
2. Identify why that species is endangered. 3. Explain the causes and effects if this animal were to be extinct. 4. Suggest possible solutions. 5. Examine the pros and cons of each solution. 6. Explain the importance of protecting endangered species.
|Our questions relate to all the criteria.||Our questions relate to four or five of the criteria.||Our questions relate to three or fewer of the criteria|
(Yoshina & Harada, 2007)
Students should then be able to list criteria for a quality assignment. According to Student-generated rubrics by “bringing students into the assessment process, students need to understand these criteria in order to distinguish between best, acceptable and unacceptable assignments”.
Because a rubric sets and defines grading criteria in a precise manner, the development of a grading rubric can be time consuming for a teacher (Advantages and Disadvantages of Rubrics, 2005). This is especially true if a teacher needs to develop or refine a rubric for multiple performance assessments. A rubric needs to be clarified and revised several times “before it can actually be usable in an easy fashion” (Advantages and Disadvantages of Rubrics, 2005). In the case of using student input for a rubric, a teacher needs to organize student input and then present a rough draft to students for feedback. Once that is completed, the rubric can be revised and distributed (Yoshina & Harada, 2007).
Barry Gilmore uses another method of having students write rubrics. He has the students, as a group, “create(s) a contract that includes a schedule, an outline of responsibilities (and consequences) , and a rubric for assessment of the project.” He believes that this “sort of student involvement leads…to student investment.” (Gilmore, 2007, p, 24).
Having students participate in the process of writing and developing rubrics has many advantages. Students develop evaluative skills and become more involved in the learning process. It encourages students to set higher goals for themselves and place a higher value on their work.
1) An advantage of using a student written rubric would be which of the following:
a. A student’s understanding of a topic is increased by helping to create a rubric. b. A teacher has no justification for a particular grade. c. Rubrics do not prevent bias grading. d. Students cannot evaluate their work before submitting it for a grade.
2) 2) A disadvantage of using a student written rubric would be which of the following:
a. A rubric allows teachers to grade assignments quickly. b. The teacher still has to edit the rubric before it can be used and this can be time consuming. c. Students can help create and refine a rubric. d. Teachers have to create rubrics for every assignment.
3) Mrs. Young, a media center specialist, will have middle school students create a rubric about blogging. Since this is a complex topic, how could she help students better understand what criteria she expects from them?
a. The teacher should use a rubric that she has used before. b. Learning targets should be posted on an interactive white board in the media center. c. Blogs should be examined for quality and variety in order to see the difference between a godd blog and a bad blog. d. The teacher could show students how blogs have become Internet versions of diaries and journals.
4) Mr. Plant wants his students to help create a rubric for an upcoming group poetry assignment. What should he ensure that students do in order to accomplish the task of creating a rubric?
a. Create a time limit for the assignment to be completed. b. Students should examine works of poetry to develop criteria. c. Resposibilities for completing the assignment should be outlined. d. All of the above
Advantages and Disadvantages of Rubrics. (2005). Retrieved October 25, 2008, from http://demo.4vqzl21.remote.schoolcenter.com/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=5128&PHPSESSID=b2fa70324ba350fc
Andrade, H. (2007, December). Self-Assessment Through Rubrics. Educational Leadership, 65(4), 60-63. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from Education Research Complete database.
Gilmore, B. (2007, September). Off the Grid: The Debate Over Rubrics--and What It's Missing. California English, 13(1), 22-25. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from Education Research Complete database.
Leonhardt, A. (2005, Fall2005). Using Rubrics as an Assessment Tool in Your Classroom. General Music Today, 19(1), 10-16. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from Education Research Complete database.
Skillings, M., & Ferrell, R. (2000, March). Student-generated rubrics: Bringing students into the assessment process. Reading Teacher, 53(6), 452. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from Education Research Complete database.
Why Use Rubrics. (n.d.). Evaluation: Process. Retrieved October 19, 2008, from University of Minnesota Web site: http://www.carla.umn.edu/assessment/vac/Evaluation/p_5.html.
Yoshina, J., & Harada, V. (2007, February). Involving Students in Learning Through Rubrics. Library Media Connection, 25(5), 10-14. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from Education Research Complete database.
1. a 2. b 3. c 4. d