How to use rubrics effectively

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Develop a different rubric for each assignment

Although this takes time in the beginning, you’ll find that rubrics can be changed slightly or re-used later.  If you are seeking pre-existing rubrics, consider Rhodes (2009) for the AAC&U VALUE rubrics, cited below, or Facione and Facione (1994). Whether you develop your own or use an existing rubric, practice with any other graders in your course to achieve inter-rater reliability.

Be transparent

Give students a copy of the rubric when you assign the performance task. These are not meant to be surprise criteria. Hand the rubric back with the assignment.

Integrate rubrics into assignments

Require students to attach the rubric to the assignment when they hand it in. Some instructors ask students to self-assess or give peer feedback using the rubric prior to handing in the work.

Leverage rubrics to manage your time

When you mark the assignment, circle or highlight the achieved level of performance for each criterion on the rubric. This is where you will save a great deal of time, as no comments are required.

Include any additional specific or overall comments that do not fit within the rubric’s criteria.

Be prepared to revise your rubrics

Decide upon a final grade for the assignment based on the rubric. If you find, as some do, that presented work meets criteria on the rubric but nevertheless seems to have exceeded or not met the overall qualities you’re seeking, revise the rubric accordingly for the next time you teach the course. If the work achieves highly in some areas of the rubric but not in others, decide in advance how the assignment grade is actually derived. Some use a formula, or multiplier, to give different weightings to various components; be explicit about this right on the rubric.

Consider developing online rubrics

If an assignment is being submitted to an electronic drop box you may be able to develop and use an online rubric. The scores from these rubrics are automatically entered in the online grade book in the course management system.

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