Reality of Rubrics
In today’s educational system, students are very focused on grades. It’s the system we designed as a culture, so this should not come as a surprise. In work, school and even social circles, students (all citizens really) are being evaluated and given grades or status based on performance. But do students really understand how they earned their grade? Often times, a paper or project will be handed back to the student with instructor comments and a grade. That’s great. Students were given a task and consequently received a mark that is supposed to stand for the entirety of their work. Is it really surprising then that students appear disinterested in what is being assigned? Imagine spending hours of time on a task or assignment and then having the entirety of your effort relegated to a single letter or number. Frustrating, no?
To combat this problem, a push towards rubrics has been taking place in the classroom. A key part of students seeking certification for teaching is the EdTPA. In this evaluation, students must construct a grading rubric for the assignment they are required to design. While members of the educational community may fall anywhere on the spectrum regarding their approval or disapproval of the Common Core, the benefits of rubrics as a tool of assessment is undeniable. Rubrics not only allow students to focus on the key elements of the task at hand, they provide students with a wealth of knowledge in regards to the aspects of the assignment in which they struggled or succeeded. Rather than being given a summative grade, rubrics provide students with a more specific breakdown of their efforts. That way, students can zero in on their strengths and weaknesses as writers, or better yet, authors. Summative grades are ambiguous at best and do little to reinforce strengths, but rather highlight deficits.
Designing and assembling a rubric can be daunting. The process requires that a teacher give careful consideration to the elements of the structure that they value most. That way, students have a much more effective map or guide for the assignment as rubrics should be handed out before students begin the task of completing the assignment. In order to create a coherent, effective rubric, many teachers may choose to use Microsoft Word or some other word processor. However, in today’s digital era, there are a plethora of resources available to aspiring and current teachers alike. Rcampus.com, (the logo above will take you there) which I briefly mentioned in a previous post, is an incredible resource (FREE!!!!) available online. Sign-up literally takes under 10 minutes. As a member of this group, teachers have a variety of rubric designs available to pick and choose from. The format of a rubric can be frustrating to design as a Word document, yet with this site, all a teacher has to do is type. That’s right, the format and weighting scales are provided. To create a rubric, an instructor is required to address and provide the criteria for specific levels of the rubric. Rubric templates allow for users to expand or shrink the number of criteria, and users can also assign particular weights to each category. If a certain criteria on the rubric is deemed more important by teacher, they can weight it accordingly. With the rubric formed, a teacher merely has to assign the particular scores a student receives for each criterion and Rcampus.com will calculate the total score for them! This is a small sample of how an individual can utilize this site. There are also portfolio builders, and once the portfolios are built, instructors can submit and create a digital storage space for student work.
I could go on and on about the features of this website as you can realistically construct a virtual classroom by utilizing all features of the website. I will not however as that would diminish the importance of rubrics. They are essential in a classroom today. If we want to create a generation of critical readers, then they must be able to critically evaluate their own work. That is a difficult task when provided with so little feedback. Thus, the importance of rubrics is greater than ever before.