A rubric is a mechanism for assessing, scoring, and monitoring student performance given the conditions for the problem and/or task.
A rubric answers the question, “Which conditions of success are being met by the student?” It allows the teacher to tell a student what’s right, what’s wrong, and how to fix it.
Designing a Rubric
A rubric has two basic design elements:
- a list of the elements required for success
- the stages of competency for the elements
There are three basic designs to choose from when creating a rubric. Choose which one to use based upon your purpose and application.
Analytical rubrics focus on details and skills. When a student is beginning a task, use this type of rubric because it helps them see all the pieces before they attempt to master a complex task.
Primary trait rubrics focus on specific attributes which are evaluated separately and described in stages of competency. They are useful if the task is complex and can best be taught if handled one attribute at a time.
Holistic rubrics are helpful when the student is assessed based upon the entirety of the demonstration, product, or performance. This type of rubric is most helpful in assessment.
There is not one right way to design a rubric. Often, the first one you develop is not perfect. Continuous improvement of writing a rubric should be focused toward clarifying student success outcomes for both the student and teacher and assisting the teacher in providing beneficial feedback to students about their performance.
Download an example of a rubric.
Using a Rubric
The most important criteria for using the rubric lies in the benefit of improving student performance. Using the rubric for student success depends upon:
How well the rubric can be used by students for self evaluation and improvement.
Sharing the rubric with students prior to the task or demonstration. Works even better if the student has helped in developing the rubric.
How clearly the rubric describes mastery, acceptable, and not yet stages of competency.
Rubrics can be used to move more students to higher levels of success. They can, in fact, accelerate the speed of acquisition of knowledge and clarify the expectations for success for any course.
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