The Advantages of Rubrics
Part one in a five-part series
What is a rubric?
Chocolate chip cookie rubric
Why use rubrics?
What is a rubric?
• A rubric is a scoring guide that seeks to evaluate a student's performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score.
• A rubric is an authentic assessment tool used to measure students' work.
o Authentic assessment is used to evaluate students' work by measuring the product according to real-life criteria. The same criteria used to judge a published author would be used to evaluate students' writing.
o Although the same criteria are considered, expectations vary according to one's level of expertise. The performance level of a novice is expected be lower than that of an expert and would be reflected in different standards. For example, in evaluating a story, a first-grade author may not be expected to write a coherent paragraph to earn a high evaluation. A tenth grader would need to write coherent paragraphs in order to earn high marks.
• A rubric is a working guide for students and teachers, usually handed out before the assignment begins in order to get students to think about the criteria on which their work will be judged.
• A rubric enhances the quality of direct instruction.
Rubrics can be created for any content area including math, science, history, writing, foreign languages, drama, art, music, and even cooking! Once developed, they can be modified easily for various grade levels. The following rubric was created by a group of postgraduate education students at the University of San Francisco, but could be developed easily by a group of elementary students.
Read more on TeacherVision: http://www.teachervision.fen.com/teaching-methods-and-management/rubrics/4522.html#ixzz1gLj14qQL
Why use rubrics?
Many experts believe that rubrics improve students' end products and therefore increase learning. When teachers evaluate papers or projects, they know implicitly what makes a good final product and why. When students receive rubrics beforehand, they understand how they will be evaluated and can prepare accordingly. Developing a grid and making it available as a tool for students' use will provide the scaffolding necessary to improve the quality of their work and increase their knowledge.
• Prepare rubrics as guides students can use to build on current knowledge.
• Consider rubrics as part of your planning time, not as an additional time commitment to your preparation.
Once a rubric is created, it can be used for a variety of activities. Reviewing, reconceptualizing, and revisiting the same concepts from different angles improves understanding of the lesson for students. An established rubric can be used or slightly modified and applied to many activities. For example, the standards for excellence in a writing rubric remain constant throughout the school year; what does change is students' competence and your teaching strategy. Because the essentials remain constant, it is not necessary to create a completely new rubric for every activity.
There are many advantages to using rubrics:
• Teachers can increase the quality of their direct instruction by providing focus, emphasis, and attention to particular details as a model for students.
• Students have explicit guidelines regarding teacher expectations.
• Students can use rubrics as a tool to develop their abilities.
• Teachers can reuse rubrics for various activities.
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Create an Original Rubric
Part two in a five-part series
Learning to create rubrics is like learning anything valuable. It takes an initial time investment. Once the task becomes second nature, it actually saves time while creating a higher quality student product. The following template will help you get started:
• Determine the concepts to be taught. What are the essential learning objectives?
• Choose the criteria to be evaluated. Name the evidence to be produced.
• Develop a grid. Plug in the concepts and criteria.
• Share the rubric with students before they begin writing.
• Evaluate the end product. Compare individual students' work with the rubric to determine whether they have mastered the content.
Fiction-writing content rubric
Criteria 4 3 2 1
PLOT: "What" and "Why" Both plot parts are fully developed. One of the plot parts is fully developed and the less developed part is at least addressed. Both plot parts are addressed but not fully developed. Neither plot parts are fully developed.
SETTING: "When" and "Where" Both setting parts are fully developed. One of the setting parts is fully developed and the less developed part is at least addressed. Both setting parts of the story are addressed but not fully developed. Neither setting parts are developed.
CHARACTERS "Who" Described by behavior, appearance, personality, and character traits. The main characters are fully developed with much descriptive detail. The reader has a vivid image of the characters. The main characters are developed with some descriptive detail. The reader has a vague idea of the characters. The main characters are identified by name only. None of the characters are developed or named.
In the above example, the concepts include the plot, setting, and characters. The criteria are the who, what, where, when, and why parts of the story. The grid is the physical layout of the rubric. Sharing the rubric and going over it step-by-step is necessary so that students will understand the standards by which their work will be judged. The evaluation is the objective grade determined by the teacher.
The teacher determines the passing grade. For instance, if all three concepts were emphasized, a passing grade of 3 in all three concepts might be required. If any part of the story fell below a score of 3, then that particular concept would need to be re-taught and rewritten with specific teacher feedback.
In another example, suppose a teacher emphasized only one concept, such as character development. A passing grade of "3" in character development may constitute a passing grade for the whole project. The purpose in writing all three parts of the story would be to gain writing experience and get feedback for future work.
Share the rubric with students prior to starting the project. It should be visible at all times on a bulletin board or distributed in a handout. Rubrics help focus teaching and learning time by directing attention to the key concepts and standards that students must meet.
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Analytic vs. Holistic Rubrics
Part three in a five-part series
What's the difference between analytic and holistic rubrics?
• Analytic rubrics identify and assess components of a finished product.
• Holistic rubrics assess student work as a whole.
Which one is better?
Neither rubric is better than the other. Both have a place in authentic assessment, depending on the following:
• Who is being taught? Because there is less detail to analyze in the holistic rubric, younger students may be able to integrate it into their schema better than the analytic rubric.
• How many teachers are scoring the product? How many teachers are scoring the product? Different teachers have different ideas about what constitutes acceptable criteria. The extra detail in the analytic rubric will help multiple grades emphasize the same criteria.
Recall the analytic rubric from part two and compare it with the holistic rubric below:
Fiction Writing Content Rubric – HOLISTIC
• 5 – The plot, setting, and characters are developed fully and organized well. The who, what, where, when, and why are explained using interesting language and sufficient detail.
• 4 – Most parts of the story mentioned in a score of 5 above are developed and organized well. A couple of aspects may need to be more fully or more interestingly developed.
• 3 – Some aspects of the story are developed and organized well, but not as much detail or organization is expressed as in a score of 4.
• 2 – A few parts of the story are developed somewhat. Organization and language usage need improvement.
• 1 – Parts of the story are addressed without attention to detail or organization.
1. Neither the analytic nor the holistic rubric is better than the other one.
2. Consider your students and grader(s) when deciding which type to use.
3. For modeling, present to your students anchor products or exemplars of products at various levels of development.
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How to Weight Rubrics
Part four in a five-part series
What is a weighted rubric?
• A weighted rubric is an analytic rubric in which certain concepts are judged more heavily than others. If, in a creative writing assignment, a teacher stresses character development, he or she might consider weighing the characters part of the rubric more heavily than the plot or setting.
• Remember that the purpose of creative writing is to evoke emotion from the reader. The writing needs to be interesting, sad, exciting, mysterious, or whatever the author decides. One way to develop the intended emotion is to focus on each concept separately within the context of creative writing.
A weighted rubric clearly communicates to the students and their parents which parts of the project are more important to learn for a particular activity. Weights can be changed to stress different aspects of a project. One week a teacher may focus on character development. In the next week or two, plot may take precedence.
A weighted rubric focuses attention on specific aspects of a project. When learning something new, it is difficult to assimilate all of the necessary details into a coherent final product. Likewise, it is difficult to learn new things in isolation or out of context. A weighted rubric devised from quality projects will allow new learners to focus on what is being taught, while providing meaningful context to support the entire experience.
Different ways to weight rubrics
1. Refer to the analytic rubric in part two of this series. If you have just focused on character development, simply require students to achieve a passing score of 3.00 in characters, realizing that the other parts are also necessary for quality fiction writing.
2. Assign numeric weights to different concepts. Characters might be worth 50 percent, and the setting and plot might be worth 25 percent each. When grading a story, the teacher would put twice as much weight on characters as either setting or plot. A passing score of at least 2.00 points with 1.50 coming from characters would be required. After a lesson on how to develop the plot, that concept might be worth 50 percent while the setting and characters would be worth 25 percent each.
3. To achieve a cumulative effect after the second lesson, the plot and characters might be worth 40 percent each, and the setting might be worth 20 percent.
Weighted rubrics are useful for explicitly describing to students and parents what concepts take priority over others for certain activities. In designing weighted rubrics, it is important not to lose sight of the purpose of an activity by getting bogged down in meaningless details, such as the number of adjectives and verbs used or the number of pages written.
The purpose of creative writing is to evoke a response from the reader. Using written words to elicit emotion effectively requires skill and understanding of the language. The concepts are the form by which good writing is judged. The important criteria become how the author uses language to achieve his or her goals.
Weighted fiction-writing content rubric
Criteria 4 3 2 1
PLOT: "What" and "Why"
25% Both plot parts are fully developed.
.25 x 4 = 1.00 point One of the plot parts is fully developed and the less developed part is at least addressed.
.25 x 3 = .75 point Both plot parts are addressed but not fully developed.
.25 x 2 = .50 point Neither plot parts are fully developed.
.25 x 1 = .25 point
SETTING: "When" and "Where"
25% Both setting parts are fully developed.
.25 x 4 = 1.00 point One of the setting parts is fully developed and the less developed part is at least addressed.
.25 x 3 = .75 point Both setting parts of the story are addressed but not fully developed.
.25 x 2 = .50 point Neither setting parts are developed.
.25 x 1 = .25 point
CHARACTERS: "Who" described by appearance, personality, character traits, and behavior.
50% The main characters are fully developed with much descriptive detail. The reader has a vivid image of the characters.
.50 x 4 =2.00 points The main characters are developed with some descriptive detail. The reader has a vague idea of the characters.
.50 x 3 = 1.50 points The main characters are identified by name only.
.50 x 2 = 1.00 point None of the characters are developed or named.
.50 x 1 = .50 point
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