Tame the Beast: Tips for Designing and Using Rubrics
Rubrics are a difficult beast to master. Grrrrrrr! They take a long time to develop, are difficult to write, and can be difficult to use effectively in some situations. They can be found anywhere. In this day and age, there are rubrics all over the internet, as well as tools for creating them, and it can be overwhelming for instructors. Several reforms are driving the development of rubrics, from standards-based grading to evaluation for learning. With so many competing objectives, it is only natural that rubrics continue to be a difficult beast to both construct and utilise. Here are a few (and only a few) pointers for creating and utilising excellent rubrics. What ever reforms and frameworks you put in place, these can be used by any educator who wants to learn more about them.
1) Use Parallel Language
Make certain that the terminology used from column to column is consistent, and that the grammar and words are consistent. Of course, the language used in each portion or assignment will differ, as will the expectations for that area or task. However, in terms of readability, you must ensure that the rubric can be easily read from left to right as well as vice versa before submitting it. It is also necessary to describe indicators in the following categories if they are described in the previous category, regardless of whether they are about “having” something or “not having” something. This is all about providing kids with clarity and openness.
2) Use Student Friendly Language!
Tip #1 alludes to a more serious problem. It is impossible to expect a rubric to direct instruction, reflection, and assessment if students are unable to comprehend it. If you want students to participate in the use of the rubric, they must first comprehend what it is. Make certain that the language is appropriate for the learner’s level. If you employ academic terminology or concepts, you’ll need to set out time to educate kids the definitions and concepts associated with those terms and notions.
3) Use the Rubric with Your Students… Please!!!
You must use the rubric when working with the pupils. It makes absolutely no difference to them if you don’t. We’ve all experienced those moments when we handed out a rubric and the students threw it away, or when the papers were strewn across the floor like snow at the end of a lesson. Students must understand why they are being asked to apply a rubric in order for them to retain it and, more significantly, find it beneficial in terms of their own learning. Students should realise that the rubric is intended to assist students in a variety of activities such as reflection, self-assessment, unpacking, and critiquing. During student-led conferences and parent-teacher conferences, you can use it as a talking point. By utilising a rubric, students and other stakeholders will be better able to comprehend the expectations as well as the relevance of those expectations to learning.
4) Don’t Use Too Many Columns
This has everything to do with organisational skills in general. You want the rubric to be easy to understand and well-organized. The circumstance when we feel that it would be a stretch to move one criterion across several columns in an evaluation rubric is familiar to all of us. Is it possible that there are simply too many columns? Choose the appropriate amount of criteria so that they flow logically and smoothly throughout levels of evaluation.
5) Common Rubrics and Templates are Awesome
Avoid getting rubric fatigue, which is when you’ve spent so much time developing rubrics that you’re unable to continue. This can be accomplished through the use of common rubrics that students see across a variety of classroom activities, as well as the creation of templates that you can modify slightly as needed. Create templates for learning targets or similar performance tasks in your classroom to use as a starting point. It is simple to make changes to these types of rubrics later on. For common rubrics, students require routines, and what better way to establish a pattern than with a common rubric for an entire department or grade level? When students know that the expectations in different courses are the same, they feel more confidence when they enter those classrooms. The simplest rubrics I’ve seen are used frequently for tasks that all teachers work on, such as reading, writing, and 21st century abilities, and are therefore the most straightforward. Determine your common practises and develop a single rubric that everyone on your team may utilise.
6) Rely on Descriptive Language
Specific descriptions are the most powerful types of descriptions you may employ. That implies refraining from using words such as “good” and “great.” At the same time, avoid relying on numbers as a crutch, such as the quantity of resources available. Instead of saying things like “find good sources” or “use three sources,” concentrate your rubric wording on the quality of the sources students utilise and the best possible means of aligning that data to the assignment, rather than on the quantity of sources used. It is not about the amount of sources used, and the term “great” is too imprecise for students to understand what it means. Make sure to be specific and descriptive.
These are some important rubric-writing techniques, and I’m sure you have many of your own that have come from your own professional experience as educators. Creating and Recognizing Quality Rubrics is one of my favourite books on the subject of rubrics. It has assisted me in refining my rubrics as well as working with teachers to improve their own. In addition to excellent examples and non-examples, it also includes a rubric for rubrics! Isn’t that amusing? There are numerous publications and resources available to assist you in the creation of rubrics, as well as numerous excellent rubrics. Although I urge you to build your own rubrics in order to practise and improve your talents as educators, I equally encourage you to avoid adopting a rubric right away. Determine if it is necessary to alter it to meet your requirements and, more significantly, the requirements of your students. Be critical of the rubrics that are currently available, but also make use of the tools that are already available to you. Please feel free to share your best practises with the rest of the community!