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Critical Consumer of on-line rubrics

Page history last edited by LCI, Ltd. 8 years, 5 months ago


What does it mean to be a critical consumer of on-line rubrics?


There are easily half-a-dozen rubric generators available on the web as well as several dozen sites that house a veritable bounty of rubrics from every level and conceivable topic or subject. Although their definition of “rubrics” may sound similar to ours, these pre-made rubrics are often lacking in key features that distinguish quality rubrics.


The questions below can serve to help you identify which rubrics can best meet your needs or ways you may want to think about revising an on-line rubric.


1. Does the rubric focus on quality? You'll know a rubric is focused on quality because it describes what is present, not just what is absent. It describes, using showing/telling words and not counting words ("some", "few", "many" are counting words - albeit vague ones), what is occurring in students' work. Finally, the purpose of the rubric is to help students reflect and improve upon their work and not to discourage them. Therefore, the nature of the rubric should be designed around improvement not discouragement. In many cases, rubrics posted on-line are actually closer to their scoring chart or checklist cousins than a quality rubrics. The series of questions on this page can help you distinguish between the two. 


2. Does the language of the rubric align with your expectations? Unless you posted it, even the best written on-line rubric was written for someone else's students. Before printing a rubric and using it to evaluate your students, critically review each dimension and level. If a student asked for clarification around a dimension, would you be able to point them to an anchor or example? Would you feel comfortable explaining to a parent why you gave their child feedback based on that rubric?


3. Does the order of the dimensions and labels match your expectations? In a quality rubric, the level below the top level (i.e. the level 3 on a 4 level rubric) communicates the expected standard. If what you see in the top level of an on-line rubric matches your expectations, then you'll have to add a new top level that exceeds what you expect from your students and perhaps drop off the on-line rubric's bottom level. Additionally, as readers, we generally look for the most important information at the top of the page. If the first dimension (or row) isn't the most important criteria in the task, consider re-ordering the rows. (This is the reason why, on quality rubrics, you'll often see mechanics as the last row.)


4. What is your goal in using this rubric? The demands placed on teachers today are many. For teachers looking to expand their assessment repertoire, a pre-designed rubric seems like a useful short-cut. In some cases, they are. In most cases, they can best serve you and your students as a starting point.

  • If you are using a pre-designed rubric so you can quickly communicate how you'll be grading your students' work, download the file, label it as "scoring criteria" or "scoring chart" and distribute it - without calling it a rubric. Or, use it to help you write a checklist that tells students what you'll be looking for - i.e. 3 sources, no more than 4 misspelled words, 10 examples.
  • If you're downloading the file in order to start using rubrics in your classroom, share it with your students and get their feedback on the clarity of the tool.  Does it enable them to understand what a quality product looks like versus a finished product?


Some other questions you may want to consider as you review an on-line rubric:

* What message does this rubric convey to my students? Is the layout accessible to them?

* How well does this rubric align with the traits of quality rubrics?

* Does this rubric match the language and phrases I use with my students?

* Does this rubric match the task that I have assigned? Am I sure my task even deserves a rubric?



Additional Resources

The article "Limitations of web-based rubric resources: Addressing the challenges", available here provides more information and feedback on on-line rubric resources.


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