Grading rubric provides clarity for instructors and students

by Greenberry “Tripp” Taylor
Master’s student, University of Florida

Greenberry "Tripp" Taylor

Tripp Taylor’s teaching assistantship is working with undergraduates in the Innovation News Center.

Having a checklist usually makes things simpler and more efficient. For example, if you go to the grocery store with a list, chances are you can make it in-and-out quickly because you know exactly what you’re looking for.

This is a good way to think of a rubric – a very advanced, evaluative checklist used by instructors. Just like a grocery list, instructors can take time and think about what objectives they want an assignment to have. Having set expectations can help eliminate subjectivity, and also shave some time off the grading process.

Here are some strategies and insights from my research on rubrics and from interviewing faculty who use rubrics.

“I’ve always strived for objectivity, but I wanted to make additional strides to be sure that I didn’t let subjectivity creep in. Now [after implementing rubrics], when I put a grade on a paper, I feel more confident about its accuracy. Rubrics, I find, also greatly reduce the time needed to grade papers. I don’t stew over the grades as much as I used to.” – Professor from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama

Not only is this beneficial for instructors, but students as well. The objectives on a rubric should be detailed and explicit so that students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Also, students benefit the most from rubrics when distributed well before an assignment.

“I use them [rubrics] so that students know what is expected of them with greater clarity than a narrative can provide.” – Professor from the University of Florida

“I include the rubric in the syllabus so that everyone knows right away what elements need to appear in the stories. There’s no argument; it’s done, and the students can’t claim that my expectations of them were unclear.” – Professor from Spring Hill College

Creating a rubric can be time consuming because of the amount detail required, so you want to give yourself plenty of time to work. It is recommended that you create the project before mapping out a rubric for it. Following this order will allow you time to plan the project and make adjustments before setting specific objectives that will be detailed in the rubric.

For more information on rubrics, please refer to the resources listed below:

• Understanding Rubrics: http://learnweb.harvard.edu/alps/thinking/docs/rubricar.htm
• Grading Criteria & Rubrics: http://www.brown.edu/about/administration/sheridan-center/teaching-learning/assessing-student-learning/grading-criteria-rubrics
• Fundamentals of Rubrics: http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ele/scholars/practices/Evaluating_Projects/Resources/Using_Rubrics.pdf
• The Role of Rubrics in Advancing and Assessing Student Learning: http://www.uncw.edu/cte/et/articles/vol7_1/wolf.pdf

Greenberry Taylor is a master’s student at the University of Florida and a student in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930). His first teaching was as an undergraduate teaching assistant at Spring Hill College.

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