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Complete Rubrics: Chapter Two

Quinlan, Audrey M. A Complete Guide to Rubrics: Assessment Made Easy for Teachers, K-College. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2006. Print.



Chapter Two: Checklists, Performance Lists, or Rubrics


 In this chapter Quinlan talks about how rubrics aren’t right for every assignment or for all parts of all assignments at least. She starts the chapter talking about the three kinds of learning objectives: “cognitive (information and knowledge), psychomotor (physical actions), or affective (attitudes)” (17).  She discusses Bloom’s taxonomy and its relation to cognitive objectives. She gives a nice chart on pages 18-19 that breaks down Bloom’s categories and gives instructional objectives and verbs for each category: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. I did a quick search and found another page from Clemson University that includes similar information:


Psychomotor learning objective include anything that students must physically complete, from handwriting to archery to lab experiments to building robots. Quinlan cites Heinich, Molenda, and Russell to describe “four levels of the psychomotor objectives: imitation, manipulation, precision, and articulation” (17). 


Affective learning objectives include attitudes and feelings about learning, which have to be evaluated by self -disclosure or through observation, so they are often “the most difficult to measure and evaluate” (17).


Quinlan next discusses using simple checklists to measure any of these kinds of learning objectives whether it’s completing a map or learning to spike a volleyball or even enjoying an activity (uses terms like “volunteers, joins in, cooperates, enjoys” (20). I can imagine using a checklist for group projects in my Comp I class or for the parts of the research paper in Comp II (instead of a multi-part rubric).


Here is an example of how I might use a checklist:


Checklist for College Composition II research paper


____ Brainstorming idea with class group


____Summary One


____Summary Two


____Topic selected and approved


____Outline and planning completed


____ Initial research completed


____Draft of paper completed


____Peer review of group drafts completed


____Grading conference with instructor completed


____Revision of paper into final draft completed


____Evaluative paper completed




This kind of checklist would be useful for the student and the instructor, to keep the student on task and for the instructor to have one clear sheet with the student’s progress.


Next Quinlan talks about using an expanded checklist to do simple evaluation of parts of a tasks, using perhaps a check, minus, plus sign system to show students how well they completed the parts of the checklist. Again, I can see this being useful in a large individual or group project where not every part is graded individually.


The next type of tool discussed is a performance list, which uses a checklist format but assigns points to each task.


I could use a performance list for my group grammar presentations. One might look like this:


Group Grammar Presentations

100 points


Group Participation (25 points—5 points each)


___ Took a clear role in the group


___Completed a fair share of the work


___Got along with members (avoided or dealt with conflict)


___Communicated with members effectively


___Attended regular group meetings



Grammar Knowledge (50 points—10 points each)


____ summarized grammar concepts


____identified important terms accurately


____produced several original examples of each error


____corrected example errors accurately

____ answered any questions accurately and thoroughly


Presentation Skills (25 points—5 points each)


____ involved audience in presentation


___ Created an organized and visually appealing display


___Spoke clearly and loud enough


___Made eye contact with audience


___Displayed use of professionalism and standard English usage



Finally, Quinlan moves on to using rubrics. First, she explains the advantages to rubrics: they provide clear expectations, they let students know the benchmarks of the assignments, they let student see themselves in relation to clear objectives, they create more fairness and consistency in grading, and they “provide teachers with data to support grades” (26).


Quinlan talks about both 4 point or 6 point and holistic or analytic rubrics.   


 In a four point rubric, #4 would be “exemplary performance;” #3 would be “proficient…[s]olid performance or understanding;” #2 would be “partial understanding…emerging or developing; makes errors;” #1 would be “minimal understanding…has serious errors or misconceptions;” and 0 would be “[n]o attempt made” (27). In a 4 point rubric, a 3 is the “standard” (27).


In a 6 point rubric, the levels are: 6= “Exemplary achievement ;” 5= “Commendable achievement;” 4= “Adequate achievement;” 3= “Some evidence of achievement;” 2= “Limited evidence of achievement;” 1= “Minimal evidence of achievement;” and 0= “No response” (27). In a 4 point rubric, a 5 is the “standard” (27).


In a holistic rubric, the instructor includes all components or dimensions of an assignment in one category and assesses them together.


For example, for a general writing assignment that any instructor might assign, a simple 4 point rubric could be done holistically as follows:


4 points (exemplary)


Focus: has a clear focused thesis that is specific, original, and appropriate

Organization: has clear and developed paragraphs with specific topic sentences that relate to thesis

Content: uses specific examples or support for thesis and ideas

Style: uses appropriate and professional words and varies sentences

Grammar: adheres to Standard English conventions and has few or no errors


3 points (competent)


Focus: has a clear focus for the paper

Organization: has clear paragraphs that relate to thesis

Content: supports thesis

Style: uses clear appropriate language

Grammar: adheres to Standard English conventions with only slight errors that do not hinder communication


2 points (developing)


Focus: focus for the paper may be unclear or change

Organization: paragraphs may not relate to thesis or be clearly focused

Content: has some support but needs more to develop the thesis

Style: may use some inappropriate or inconsistent words or sentences

Grammar: has some errors in Standard English usage that may interfere with communication


1 point (unsatisfactory)


Focus: no clear focus for the paper

Organization: no clear paragraphs or no connection between paragraphs and thesis

Content: thesis is unsupported

Style: inappropriate or inconsistent words or sentences primarily used

Grammar: many errors in Standard English that interfere with communication


0 points

Did not complete


Although I can see the usefulness of this kind of rubric, the problem is that it doesn’t tell a student why he or she specifically received a 4 or a 2. Often a student may do well in organization, for example, but poorly in support and grammar.


The analytic rubric lets the instructor break down the points more specifically. For example, the rubric would be broken down into its dimension, like this:




4. has a clear focused thesis that is specific, original, and appropriate

3. has a clear focus for the paper

2. focus for the paper may be unclear or change

1. no clear focus for the paper

0. no attempt



This is much more like the rubrics displayed in the Introduction to Rubrics book-which I think are most useful.


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.