As educators employ more creative works as forms of assessment in their classroom, the question often turns to “How do we assess this?” Many educators find it easy to grade an exam or a quiz, especially when multiple choice and true/false questions are used. But how do we assess an assignment like a digital story? Or if we’re having our students blog? What if they’re contributing to a wiki? How do we as educators assess our students when they are creating works that are more subjective to judge?
One answer is to use rubrics. A rubric is a tool that outlines the criteria for which student work will be assessed. A well-designed rubric provides a uniform standard for educators to evaluate subjective assignments which can make the assessment process easier. When shared with students prior to the start of an activity, a rubric can provide a road map for students so they know which areas of the assignment are the most important. Rubrics also inject transparency in the assessment process, allowing students to know exactly how they’ll be assessed for a given assignment.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that rubrics can have a normalizing effect on students’ creativity. When I provide rubrics for an assignment, I find that I get a lot of really good products from students but fewer “out-of-the-box,” “knock my socks off” creations. But I also get fewer poor student creations as well. By using rubrics to provide explicit standards for students, I can help guide their creativity, which can have both positive and negative consequences.
This week, I thought I’d provide a few resources that can help educators create their own rubrics. Before you assign that digital storytelling project or that podcasting assignment, check out these resources for ways to assess student work.
If you’re new to rubrics, this would be the place to start. This tutorial walks through the basics of rubric creation and implementation. The tutorial is easy to understand and even provides examples of rubrics for different types of assignments (oral presentations, research papers, etc).
Rubrics4Teachers offers a tremendous library of rubrics for a variety of different content areas. While most are geared to K-12 classrooms, they can provide a starting point for educators working in other academic levels. The site also provides links to resources that explain the theoretical foundations of using rubrics such as this article that explains the 5 W’s of Rubrics from the journal Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation.
This online tool will walk you through the process of creating a rubric for almost any assignment. Simply enter a name for the rubric and then select the criteria from drop down menus. The different “quality levels” are populated with written standards for each level. You can modify these written standards and even add your own. After creating your rubric, you can download the file and print your rubric to distribute to students. There are some limitations to the site (you can’t have more than four quality levels, for instance) but overall, Rubric Maker is a quick and easy-to-use tool for creating rubrics.
Rubistar is one of my favorite rubric tools. It’s tremendously comprehensive, offering rubric support from oral presentations to digital storytelling projects to lab reports. After selecting a project category, Rubistar offers suggestions for different assessment criteria. You can select from the drop down menus and the different quality levels will be populated (like with Rubric Maker). Each standard can be modified and additional criteria can be added. Rubistar even offers free subscriptions so educators can save their rubrics and track their use over time.