Rubric (academic)

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This article is about rubrics in academic sense. For other uses, see Rubric (disambiguation).

In education terminology, scoring rubric means "a standard of performance for a defined population".[1] The traditional meanings of the word rubric stem from "a heading on a document (often written in red — from Latin, rubrica), or a direction for conducting church services"[citation needed]. As shown in the 1977 introduction to the International Classification of Diseases-9,[2] the term has long been used as medical labels for diseases and procedures. The bridge from medicine to education occurred through the construction of "Standardized Developmental Ratings." These were first defined for writing assessment in the mid-1970s[3] and used to train raters for New York State's Regents Exam in Writing by the late 1970s.[4] That exam required raters to use multidimensional standardized developmental ratings to determine a holistic score. The term "rubrics" was applied to such ratings by Grubb, 1981[5] in a book advocating holistic scoring rather than developmental rubrics. Developmental rubrics return to the original intent of standardized developmental ratings, which was to support student self-reflection and self-assessment as well as communication between an assessor and those being assessed. In this new sense, a scoring rubric is a set of criteria and standards typically linked to learning objectives. It is used to assess or communicate about product, performance, or process tasks.

A scoring rubric is an attempt to communicate expectations of quality around a task. In many cases, scoring rubrics are used to delineate consistent criteria for grading. Because the criteria are public, a scoring rubric allows teachers and students alike to evaluate criteria, which can be complex and subjective. A scoring rubric can also provide a basis for self-evaluation, reflection, and peer review. It is aimed at accurate and fair assessment, fostering understanding, and indicating a way to proceed with subsequent learning/teaching. This integration of performance and feedback is called ongoing assessment or formative assessment.

Several common features of scoring rubrics can be distinguished, according to Bernie Dodge and Nancy Pickett:[citation needed]

Components of a scoring rubric[edit]

Scoring rubrics include one or more dimensions on which performance is rated, definitions and examples that illustrate the attribute(s) being measured, and a rating scale for each dimension. Dimensions are generally referred to as criteria, the rating scale as levels, and definitions as descriptors.

Herman, Aschbacher, and Winters distinguish the following elements of a scoring rubric:{Herman, J. L., Aschbacher, P. R., and Winters, L. A Practical Guide to Alternative Assessment. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1992.}

Since the 1980s, many scoring rubrics have been presented in a graphic format, typically as a grid. Studies of scoring rubric effectiveness now consider the efficiency of a grid over, say, a text-based list of criteria.{Herman, J. L., Aschbacher, P. R., and Winters, L. A Practical Guide to Alternative Assessment. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1992.}

Steps to create a scoring rubric[edit]

Scoring rubrics may help students become thoughtful evaluators of their own and others’ work and may reduce the amount of time teachers spend evaluating student work. Here is a seven-step method to creating and using a scoring rubric for writing assignments:[6]

  1. Have students look at models of good versus "not-so-good" work. A teacher could provide sample assignments of variable quality for students to review.
  2. List the criteria to be used in the scoring rubric and allow for discussion of what counts as quality work. Asking for student feedback during the creation of the list also allows the teacher to assess the students’ overall writing experiences.
  3. Articulate gradations of quality. These hierarchical categories should concisely describe the levels of quality (ranging from bad to good) or development (ranging from beginning to mastery). They can be based on the discussion of the good versus not-so-good work samples or immature versus developed samples. Using a conservative number of gradations keeps the scoring rubric user-friendly while allowing for fluctuations that exist within the average range ("Creating Rubrics").
  4. Practice on models. Students can test the scoring rubrics on sample assignments provided by the instructor. This practice can build students' confidence by teaching them how the instructor would use the scoring rubric on their papers. It can also aid student/teacher agreement on the reliability of the scoring rubric.
  5. Ask for self and peer-assessment.
  6. Revise the work on the basis of that feedback. As students are working on their assignment, they can be stopped occasionally to do a self-assessment and then give and receive evaluations from their peers. Revisions should be based on the feedback they receive.
  7. Use teacher assessment, which means using the same scoring rubric the students used to assess their work.

Etymology[edit]

Root: Red, red ochre, red ink. Usage: Rubric refers to decorative text or instructions in medieval documents that were penned in red ink. In modern education circles, rubrics have recently (and misleadingly) come to refer to an assessment tool. The first usage of the term in this new sense is from the mid-1990s, but scholarly articles from that time do not explain why the term was co-opted. Perhaps rubrics are seen to act, in both cases, as metadata added to text to indicate what constitutes a successful use of that text.

Technical[edit]

One problem with scoring rubrics is that each level of fulfillment encompasses a wide range of marks. For example, if two students both receive a 'level four' mark on the Ontario system, one might receive an 80% and the other 100%. In addition, a small change in scoring rubric evaluation caused by a small mistake may lead to an unnecessarily large change in numerical grade. Adding further distinctions between levels does not solve the problem, because more distinctions make discrimination even more difficult. Both scoring problems may be alleviated by treating the definitions of levels as typical descriptions of whole products rather than the details of every element in them.

Scoring rubrics may also make marking schemes more complicated for students. Showing one mark may be inaccurate, as receiving a perfect score in one section may not be very significant in the long run if that specific strand is not weighted heavily. Some may also find it difficult to comprehend an assignment having multiple distinct marks, and therefore it is unsuitable for some younger children. In such cases it is better to incorporate the rubrics into conversation with the child than to give a mark on a paper. For example, a child who writes an "egocentric" story (depending too much on ideas not accessible to the reader) might be asked what her best friend thinks of it (suggesting a move in the audience dimension to the "correspondence" level). Thus, when used effectively scoring rubrics help students to improve their weaknesses.

Multidimensional rubrics also allow students to compensate for a lack of ability in one strand by improving another one. For instance, a student who has difficulty with sentence structure may still be able to attain a relatively high mark, if sentence structure is not weighted as heavily as other dimensions such as audience, perspective or time frame.

Another advantage of a scoring rubric is that it clearly shows what criteria must be met for a student to demonstrate quality on a product, process, or performance task.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The National Science Education Standards (1996), http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=4962&page=75) page 93
  2. ^ http://wonder.cdc.gov/wonder/sci_data/codes/icd9/type_txt/icd9.asp
  3. ^ http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED174629&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED174629
  4. ^ Dirlam, D. K. (1980). Classifiers and cognitive development. In S. & C. Modgil (Eds.), Toward a Theory of Psychological Development. Windsor, England: NFER Publishing, 465-498
  5. ^ Grubb, Mel. (1981). Using Holistic Evaluation. Encino, Cal.: Glenco Publishing Company, Inc.
  6. ^ Goodrich, H. (1996). “Understanding Rubrics.” Educational Leadership, 54 (4), 14-18.

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