Issues to Consider: Rubrics Work!
Don’t rubrics take a long time to create. Is it worth the time?
Yes, your first rubric will probably take some time to create because it is a reflection involving the critical thinking process about your teaching and grading—past, present, and future. However, the next one will be much easier, and you will find that they get easier all the time.
How do you get students to use the rubrics?
Give students the rubrics ahead of time before they start the assignment. Pass out the rubric in one of your first classes and, then, you can clarify any confusions. Students attach the rubric to their assignment when they turn it in. This means they will have to look at the rubric. Sometimes we have students assess themselves using the rubric as well. Students really appreciate the way that a rubric clarifies an assignment, and you’ll find that, after you use one rubric, students will request rubrics for other assignments. Because one of their challenges is understanding and interpreting academic language, non-traditional students in particular value rubrics.
Don’t rubrics give away all the answers? Shouldn’t students figure out these things themselves?
You are already using the criteria in the rubric to grade student papers. You might as well tell students about them. Research indicates that students find that rubrics do not inhibit their creativity at all but give them a framework for the assignment. They are then freer to be more creative!
Shouldn’t I just use a rubric that is available online or from other sources?
Indeed, there are many rubrics available now on the Web. It is a good idea to “mine” those for descriptors for your dimensions. However, we suggest that you initially create your own Do-It-Yourself (DIY) rubric that matches your course objectives, your assignments, and the criteria you use to score student work.
Several of us are teaching the same sections. Should we all use the same rubric, and if so, how do we create a common rubric that we can agree on?
Using the same rubric is probably the best approach. The agreement part can be difficult. However, most faculty members find that if they just sit down with their colleagues and follow the steps to rubric creation, there are many, many areas of common agreement on which to develop the criteria and the rubric. Taking a trial run on a small sample of student work—say 10 papers—helps refine the rubric and creates consistency and confidence. In program assessment, it is the conversation that is important.