Re-Evaluate Value… by Using Rubrics? Part 1

This post is in answer to the 30 goals challenge for educators. You can see my answer to the previous goal here.

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

by Albert Einstein

I’ve been trying to change the way in which I assess my students for a long time, and I’ve never got down to it seriously. I’m afraid today you have forced me to put hands at work. I would love to do away with numbers and letters, and focus completely on progress and achievements. However, I know it requires a lot of thinking and hard work.

Going over the related links Shelly presented in her blog, I got to read about the use of rubrics for giving students constructive feedback. You may have a look at the info here.  This reminded me, that last year, I attended a workshop at school about the topic too.

At that moment, I realised that this was what I was looking for. So my short term goal is to prepare good rubrics for the assessment of my students’ speaking, writing and receptive skills, and also for the attitudinal part. At my school we have to mark students on this aspect too. We call it “nota de concepto”. (I’m planning to share them here when I’m done with them.) And of course, my long term goal is to use them to assess my students this year, and focus on progress and achievements, rather than on grades.

If  you have never seen an assessment rubric before, here you can see some examples. A rubric is a document that describes the criteria and different levels of achievement to evaluate a specific task. I believe that they are very good for assessing students’ progress, since they:

  • provide the students with the information about what they are supposed to achieve in a clear and simple language
  • are visually organized
  • promote a learner’s autonomous role
  • indicate what’s right and what’s wrong
  • are easy to use and explain to the students
  • help teachers to make rational judgements about students’ work based on the quality of the job done
  • reduce arbitrariness and teacher’s time spent grading
  • give information about students’ strenghths and weaknesses

What do you think? Have you ever used rubrics? How did it go? Have you got any other ways in which we can assess students’ progress and achievements without focusing on grades as we always do?

Further Reading:

If you are interested on the topic @datadiva has created a wonderful wiki on the subject.


Posted on February 3, 2011, in Reflections on Tefl/tesl, Reflexiones sobre educacion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Last semester, I finished a college course where assignments were graded from a rubric. In essence, as long as I followed the prescribed directions, I got a 75%. Didn’t mean I learned anything other than following directions. I actually am somewhat ashamed to admit that I turned one book review in where I basically said I read it, I don’t understand it….. all with good grammar, correct heading, double spacing, etc. And ‘earned’ that 75%.

    I’m also working on a team where we are developing a new Administrator Evaluation process, and I cringe when we hit the rubrics…. because they say so little about what a principal is really doing.

    All that is to say, I think the rubric itself must be stellar in order for it to reflect where a student, or principal, is honestly at in terms of knowledge or performance.

    I’m glad you’re exploring the value concept. I know that when we’re looking for answers, we usually find them. Keep us posted with what you learn, ok?

    • Hi Julie,
      I’ve never used rubrics before, so I cannot share my experience yet. I’ll give it a try. For the time being, I can share with you a wiki about the topic that Jennifer has prepared. She seems to be a big fan of rubrics and also an expert on the topic.
      Of course, there must be lots of different ways in which we can assess our students successfully. There is not a one-fit-all recipe. As we say here in Argentina: “Cada maestro con su librito”.
      Let’s keep on learning together and please do share with us the conclusions you reach at with the Administrator Evaluation process.
      Kisses and hugs from Argentina.

  2. Rubrics can be a very powerful and effective tool for helping students self-assess the quality of their work. One challenge is identifying which tasks, performances, and processes deserve a rubric. It’s my experience that if we start by designing a rubric that supports students’ self-assessment around the quality of their work and then address making grading easier for the teacher, the results can be pretty powerful. Have you considered having students be a part of writing the rubrics? I wonder if that might help you and them increase the value of their work in new and exciting ways.

    • Hi Jennifer,
      Thanks for passing by and for all your support. Haven’t thought about the idea of letting students write the rubrics. I believe it would be great to make them part of the process, since in that way they would be more motivated to use them for self assessment, and we teachers make sure that they understand perfectly well what is expected from them.
      I’ve been having a look at your wiki and it looks amazing. It was really helpful to me. I would add the link to my post for further reference. Thanks for all your hard work and let’s keep on learning together.
      Kisses and hugs from Argentina.

  3. Rubrics are very frequently used in evaluating hand-in assignments at university here. Although they can definitely provide more concrete reasoning for giving a certain grade, they still measure everything the same way–a current bone of contention among educators of a certain school of thought.

    • Hi Tyson,
      Thanks for passing by. I was thinking of trying to use them to help students assess themselves, especially as regards their attitude in class. Maybe, we can have a converstion afterwards and agree on their mark and see the way in which they have improved by the end of the year. What do you think?

      • On one hand for self-assessment and reflection, rubrics seem like a valuable guideline. On the other hand, aren’t they really functioning in a more generalised way than an actual test?

        The bottom line is that reflection is valuable as a learner and whatever way a teacher finds to encourage students to do it has to be better than naught.

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