I’ll be the first to admit I’m a big fan of rubrics. When I first started teaching, I was grading 150 sophomore essays every three weeks and working long(er than necessary) hours commenting on all of them. The problem? The comments were redundant, but I wanted my students to know how to improve. I expressed this to an experienced colleague who introduced me to rubrics. I created a rubric for my next round of essays, reviewed it with my students, noticed they demonstrated a better grasp of the assignment, cut my grading time by at least a third, and was sold!
Rubrics help students:
- Understand the nuances of an assignment, ensuring clear expectations for performance levels and how they are assessed.
- Determine the difference between levels of performance (excels, meets expectations, needs improvement) and enables them to improve their performance over time.
- Build reflective practice into their learning by acknowledging their strengths and providing specific feedback to improve their weaknesses.
Rubrics help instructors:
- Give clear, measurable instructions for the assignments students complete.
- Provide detailed, timely feedback regarding student performance on assignments.
- Save time and standardize grading from student-to-student or across multiple sections of a course. Rubrics can also be used program-wide to ensure consistency.
- Assess student learning while providing the feedback necessary for reflection and growth.
To create a rubric for an assignment:
- Outline the measurable components of the assignment to be graded. For example:
- Quality of research
- Determine the range of performance you would like to evaluate in these components. Examples include:
- Unacceptable Needs Improvement, Meets Expectations, Exceeds Expectations, Nailed It!
- Novice, Practiced, Exemplary
- Unsatisfactory, Good, Excellent
Together the measurable components and your range of performance create a matrix where each component can be evaluated across the range of performance.
- Describe and qualify each level of performance. I find it’s easiest to start with the highest level of performance and modify the language (and expectations) down. If you get stuck on a level, consider both what it is and what it is not.
- Assign a numerical value to each level. This can be a single number, a range of numbers, a percentage, etc.
- If time, consider seeking peer or Instructional Designer feedback on a rubric you create before introducing it to students.
- Ensure students are clear and practiced on the expectations detailed in the rubric and how it will be applied; after it has been used, seek their feedback and make necessary tweaks over time to ensure it is an accurate reflection of student performance.
Building a rubric in Blackboard:
Now that you know the whys and hows of rubrics, don’t forget that they can be built in Blackboard and attached to assignments for quick and easy grading. To learn more, see Blackboard Help’s “Rubric” section.
If you are new to rubrics, consider reaching out to a peer who uses them or searching for a good rubric template online that can be modified to fit your course…or take advantage of the Discussion Board Rubric linked below. It was created for discussions completed at the Masters Level in a program where anything below an 80 is considered “failed.” Notice that student expectations are clear and the assignment has been leveled, both in language and numerical scale, to indicate quality of performance.