For a master’s level course I’ve been teaching this spring, I’ve tried to integrate grading rubrics into my assignments more often. I’ve used them in the past, primarily for grading big end-of-the-term projects. This semester, I used them to grade the students’ weekly writing assignments.
(This is for the 2004 edition; another is coming 12/2011)
My guidebook for this endeavor has been Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback and Promote Student Learning by Danielle D. Stevens and Antonia Levi. It’s a good solid book without a lot of chaff. Additionally, it’s geared toward university level instructors, a refreshing change from the typical how-to manual whose audience is grade school or high school teachers.
Of course, the part of the title that caught my attention was “Save Grading Time.” Writing the my “master” rubric for the typical weekly assignment took me a while, but for each week’s work, I only had to tweak it a bit, and applying it to my students’ writing did in fact save me a lot of time. Since the grad courses that I teach are similar in the writing requirements, I’ll be modifying the rubrics I used this semester for the next time, saving even more time.
Before the first assignment, I went over the rubric with the class. A few students have some questions, some not pertinent, but one or two helped me further refine the rubric to be helpful as a guide to the assignment. After grading the assignment, I showed “real life” examples of the completed papers and scoring based on the rubric (with the students’ permission, of course, and with identifying information removed). I even wrote up a paper myself to show what an unacceptable paper looked like since thankfully nobody turned one in!
The investment of time up front, both writing the rubric, and going over it before and after the first assignment, paid off. Informally, students have told me that they liked the system and felt that the feedback was better and helped them improve their writing from week to week. As part of the course evaluations, I also asked questions on the use of the rubric system and I’m looking forward to reading the student’s unfettered opinions about the rubrics.