Monday, December 10, 2012

For the Love of Rubrics

rubricIn Evaluation Rubrics from siobhan curious: classroom as microcosm, Siobhan Curious asks,

Teachers: Do you use rubrics to evaluate your students’ work?  How do you structure them?  Do they help you?  Do they help your students?”

Have I ever mentioned that I love rubrics? I think it is an awesome way to evaluate my students. Rubrics are a way to make evaluating more equal. I feel that I am evaluating everyone based on the same criteria. It is not absolutely objective but I think it is the best way to make evaluating the most objective.

There a couple of things that I feel are important about rubrics.

First, they need to be developed in the planning stage of the lesson plan. I need to think about what I want my students to learn from the lesson and what I want them to do to show that they master the skills. From there, I develop the criteria in my rubric. This is what I will use to judge mastery. Then I decide the point scale for each criteria and what does each point determine. I like to use a 3 point scale. 3 showing mastery consistently, 2 shows mastery most of the time, 1 shows mastery sometimes and of course 0 means no mastery.

Next, once I am happy with the rubric and I’m sure that this is what I plan to use for evaluation, I share it with the students. When I explain the assignment and get to the part about how it will be evaluated, I give the students a copy of the rubric. This is a guideline for them to follow as they complete the assignment. It also allows them to self check that they have completed all the steps. I also explain to them that the evidence needs to be clear enough for me to give them credit and I shouldn’t have to hunt or assume that they mean something. Whenever I take a class, I really like when the instructor gives me a rubric in advance.

When I’m evaluating the finished products, I use the rubric so that I’m looking at each piece of work with the same criteria. I’m measuring everything with the same “ruler” and it takes a lot of guesswork out of the picture. I make sure I save the finished rubrics for each student.

When I return these evaluations to the students, I allow students with passing grades to have a “conference” with me if they need it. If their grade is below passing, they are required to have a conference with me. I explain to students if they can show me that I missed some piece of clear evidence and did not mark it on the rubric, I will be glad to change the score.

Rubrics have been instrumental in helping defuse situations where there were some conflict. I had a parent conference because a parent was upset that their child failed an assignment. Of course the parent did not see the rubric and I was able to produce a copy of the rubric that the student received. After explaining the assignment and how the student had a copy of the rubric before starting the assignment, the parent was able to have a better idea on how I graded the work. Some parents even asked that I email the rubric at the beginning of the assignment to them which is fine with me.

I have noticed that with the use of rubrics, my students were more successful. They knew what was expected of them in advance. I also feel that many of my students did not feel that I was being partial to one student over another when I was following the rubric. It made students more accountable and less emotional when they received their grades.

So, do you use rubrics? How do you develop them? Do you feel it has helped you in the classroom? Has it helped your students? Please share.

Image: 'PBL Rubric'
Found on


Sioux Roslawski said...

Perfect timing, Pat. Today the students are going to develop a rubric for their desk. What should the inside of their desk look like? What does a "3" desk look like? A "2"...a "1"?

We are going to start with the "1" because it's easier to start at the bottom and work towards perfect than the other way around. This rubric is going to pave the way for a personal narrative rubric we're going to create--together--later this week.

Rubrics and scoring guides work better when the students feel like they "own" it, and the best way for that to happen is to have the students create it. They might need some prodding and poking in the right direction, but they're more than capable of it.

loonyhiker said...

@Sioux That is a great idea! Another twist would be to take a photo of the 1, 2, and 3 desk for future reference.