Intro to Rubrics: chapters 4 and 5

Introduction to Rubrics, Chapters Four and Five

 These two chapters discuss using input from others in the construction and revision of rubrics.


 Chapter 4: Rubric Construction and the classroom

 In the past, I have used rubrics in classes mostly as a guide to an assignment and as a grading tool. In this chapter, the authors talk about using students more directly to create rubrics or at least using rubrics to gauge the students’ understanding of an assignment.  Involving students in rubric making can give them more ownership in their work and in their grade. I like that idea.

 Five models for student interaction are explained in this chapter. 

  1. The Presentation Model: this is where a rubric is made and presented to students. Students are allowed to ask for questions and clarification, and they can discuss the assignment and the grading. However, no changes are necessarily made to the rubric. In the past, this is the way that I have involved students in my rubric making.  It does usually give me an idea of what parts of the assignment they understand and what I might need to explain or model further.
  2. The Feedback Model: In this model, students are given the rubric, and they can ask questions, suggest changes and clarification, and possibly even have input into how much each dimension is weighted. I like the idea that this can involve students in the process more and make them think about what parts of an assignment are most important. I also like that it can be done in one class period or less.
  3. The Pass-the-Hat Model: in this model, students help create the highest expectations of an assignment based on the assignment description and discussion. Students write one suggestion per piece of paper (of what an A assignment component would be), and then those suggestions are collected in a hat or other (possibly creative) receptacle. The instructor then takes the suggestions and groups them or has students be involved in the grouping or making of dimensions.  The authors say that, although students rarely leave out any crucial element of an assignment, the instructor can always add that in or revise other elements to make the rubric reflect his or her expectations. This method is definitely more time consuming but more interactive too. I can see using it for a first or second paper and then basing other rubrics on the results.
  4. The Post-it™ Model: Like the pass-the-hat model, students write down the elements of an A assignment on Post-it™ notes; then then stick them up around the room. The students are then asked to group the suggestions, creating dimensions. Then the dimensions and elements are put together on a large board and students can discuss the elements, the groupings, and basically get the foundation for the rubric. The instructor then takes the ideas and creates the final rubric outside of class. Although this model is time consuming, I think students would have fun—and be engaged in the process. I would like to try it.
  5. The 4X4 Model: Students are put into groups of four or so and asked to review the assignment. Then each group comes up with four dimensions for the assignment. The groups present their ideas and discuss the similarities and difference in their categories, ultimately voting on the four that will be included. Then the students go back to their groups and write up four levels from 1-4 (one as the lowest) for each dimension. Then the rubrics are presented, discussed, and voted on again. The students may go back to their groups one more time to change the 1-4 levels to words like exemplary, competent, etc. I love this idea, but it would take a significant amount of class time. I can see using it on the major research paper in Comp II or something that takes a huge portion of the class, so students really are a part of the grading model, and they fully understand and agree with the expectations of the assignment.


Chapter Five: Rubric Construction with others: teaching assistant, tutors, or colleagues

 T.A.s: Since our two year institutions don’t use teaching assistants, I didn’t spend too much time on this part of the chapter; however, I could see involving student mentors in rubric making or revision. They could help by both giving suggestions and in helping the students in the class understand the rubric.

Learning center tutors: Involving the learning center in rubrics is a great idea—either in the construction or at least in making sure the learning center tutors have copies of the rubrics and helping them understand the expectations and ideas. I definitely plan to give copies of my rubrics to the writing center staff and request that students bring them when they go in to work with tutors.

Colleagues: Through assessment initiatives, I have been involved in grading with a common rubric with other instructors before. It is extremely useful in both being more consistent in grading policies and in discussing ideas. I would like to see if the English department could come up with some standard rubrics to use in our final exit exams in English 0450, 0460, and 1106 and maybe even for a comprehensive research paper for 1109. Even discussing what goes into these rubrics would be useful. I will bring back this idea when I return from my sabbatical. I also want to develop a rubric for the 1106 final exam that I can use that can be used to start the conversation of a common exit exam rubric.

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