Grading Rubrics

Grading rubrics are an effective way to regularize and simplify the evaluation process and are helpful to both instructor and student. There are many grading rubrics in common use, with variations from discipline to discipline. Several examples are identified below, but it is best to develop your own. Discuss your grading rubric with your students at the time when you make an assignment; this will clarify your goals and give your students a checklist against which to guide their own work during the composition process. Moreover, as the semester progresses, and your students begin to collect rubric-based assessments from several assignments, they can more readily identify recurring problems or weaknesses and persistent strengths as well, and thus know what they need to work on for greater success in the future.

Establishing Grading Criteria: First, decide on the several criteria you wish to use in evaluating your students’ work—from quality of thinking and mastery of subject to organization and mechanics. These criteria, in turn, might be defined in terms of goals—goals for the assignment; goals for the course. Then consider the relative importance of each criterion and weight them accordingly. Is writing correct prose as important as demonstrating powerful analytical or interpretive skills? Is having a thesis as important as providing adequate evidence to support the thesis, or is it more important?

Setting the Evaluation Scale: Next, decide on a ratings scale, with a set number of gradations for each criterion. Some instructors use a five- or six-point scale; others prefer just three levels, ranging from weak through adequate or average and up to strong or outstanding.

Risks and Countermeasures: Rubrics have one disadvantage: They carry the risk of turning evaluation and grading into a mechanical process. To minimize the potential for this, be sure to provide discursive comments—praise and blame—in your assessments.

Advantages of Grading Rubrics: Grading rubrics are an effective way to regularize and simplify the evaluation process and are helpful to both instructor and student. There are many grading rubrics in common use, with variations from discipline to discipline. Several examples are identified below, but it is best to develop your own. Discuss your grading rubric with your students at the time when you make an assignment; this will clarify your goals and give your students a checklist against which to guide their own work during the composition process. Moreover, as the semester progresses, and your students begin to collect rubric-based assessments from several assignments, they can more readily identify recurring problems or weaknesses and persistent strengths as well, and thus know what they need to work on for greater success in the future.

Establishing Grading Criteria: First, decide on the several criteria you wish to use in evaluating your students’ work—from quality of thinking and mastery of subject to organization and mechanics. These criteria, in turn, might be defined in terms of goals—goals for the assignment; goals for the course. Then consider the relative importance of each criterion and weight them accordingly. Is writing correct prose as important as demonstrating powerful analytical or interpretive skills? Is having a thesis as important as providing adequate evidence to support the thesis, or is it more important?

Setting the Evaluation Scale: Next, decide on a ratings scale, with a set number of gradations for each criterion. Some instructors use a five- or six-point scale; others prefer just three levels, ranging from weak through adequate or average and up to strong or outstanding.

Risks and Countermeasures: Rubrics have one disadvantage: They carry the risk of turning evaluation and grading into a mechanical process. To minimize the potential for this, be sure to provide discursive comments—praise and blame—in your assessments.

Here are examples of grading rubrics:

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