Before reading this post, try to answer the following questions:
- Are teachers in your school saying that students often misunderstand assignments?
- As a teacher, do you feel that your students focus more on grades than learning?
- As a teacher, do you think you spend a lot of time grading?
Most teachers will most likely answer with a big YES. The reason why is probably rubrics are not being used or might be working against teachers rather for them. Rubrics are important teaching tools. Teachers who employ self and peer-assessment know this for better.
What is a rubric?
A rubric is basically defined as a scoring guide used to evaluate students’ performance. It includes a set of criteria and specific descriptions of levels of performance. A lot of teachers confuse a rubric with a checklist. The latter is more evaluative as it does not include descriptions of criteria. On the other hand, rubrics are more descriptive in nature. They can be used to evaluate students’ performance, but the underlying premise is that you link the performance to the description rather than making a final judgment.
Check the following example of a rubric vs. checklist to have a clear idea.
This is a rubric
This is a checklist
Why rubrics are so important?
Rubrics are generally important because they help students understand the best qualities their work should have. In other expressions, students understand them as learning targets or learning intentions. A well-designed rubric can help students identify where they are and where they should go. The use of rubrics can transform both teaching and learning.
Rubrics are effective teaching tools.
Rubrics improve the quality of instruction. To design a rubric, teachers have to focus on the criteria that will be used to assess students’ work and performance. This shift from focusing on what you teach to what students learn guides and improve teaching.
Rubrics help teachers align teaching with assessment.
Rubrics should be designed for repeated use on various assignments and tasks. Learners are provided a rubric at the beginning of a unit or a session, they complete the task, obtain feedback, do more practice, revise, and probably more to another assignment. The same rubric with the same descriptions will be used for the same tasks. Teachers can spend time planning and designing rubrics for each component (ex: grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking…etc.) and use them accordingly.
Rubrics assist students to learn
The criteria and the descriptions of performance level allow students to understand what they are supposed to do and what is it to be there. Well-designed rubrics help students know how much they have achieved and how much they still have.
Rubrics motivate students
This is the most striking aspect of rubrics. They actually increase students’ motivation to learn as they present very specific descriptions of learning targets. Students can easily accomplish specific goals and that is what rubrics do.
Rubrics decrease teachers’ workload
When teachers start using rubrics, the workload associated with correcting and grading assignments decreases. It becomes a part of the students’ responsibility. Teachers, therefore, find time to focus on other things.