What is a Rubric?
A rubric is an explicit hierarchy of achievement expectations organized along specific dimensions. Rubrics allow students to understand exactly what is expected for an assignment and what score any given response should elicit. Ideally, if a student has a rubric for an assignment, she or he should know what to do and be able to tell how well she or he did it.
Why use a Rubric?
- Students know what is expected of them.
- Students can peer review more effectively.
- Work is generally better by the time it arrives on the professor’s desk.
- Professors can grade more efficiently and more consistently.
When should I use a rubric?
Any assignment longer than a few sentences, including most writing-to-learn assignments, should have graduated expectations attached to it.
How many dimensions are enough?
It depends on the assignment. In some cases such as an assignment which is designed to get people thinking, you might use development or creativity. Some dimensions may be irrelevant for a particular kind of assignment: grammar and mechanics, for example, would be irrelevant in a writing-to-learn assignment. There are also some dependent dimensions as well: if the assignment requires quoting from sources, using the research rubric but not the citation rubric would not be efficacious.
What constitutes an effective rubric?
- Describes rather than evaluates a student’s answer to the given question. Good, better, and best cannot help a student learn; the student needs to know what specific features turn something good into something better.
- Guides students toward a better answer to the given question.
- Provides a description that clearly and logically indicates an inevitable grade.
- Makes legitimate self-assessment possible.
- Convinces people of its validity and utility.
- Can be applied with inter-rater reliability
George Mason University offers sample rubrics sorted by academic department: http://wac.gmu.edu/assessing/assessing_student_writing.php#rubrics