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What is rubrics.

“At its most basic, a rubric is a scoring tool that lays out the specific expectations for an assignment. Rubrics divide an assignment into its component parts and provide a detailed description of what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable levels of performance for each of those parts. Rubrics can be used for grading a large variety of assignments and tasks: research papers, book critiques, discussion participation, laboratory reports, portfolios, group work, oral presentations, and more” (Stevens & Levi, 2005, p.3). 

Rubrics are employed to assess the output of students. These consist of authentically designed criteria to gauge a learner’s work. Most often, these are given before the task so the students can base their performance on the given standards. It can also be used in any subject as well as in most kinds of learning activities.

            Though rubrics have various styles, there are some common features. They have objectives, scale, and dimension (Stevens & Levi, 2005).  A rubric states the task that needs to be done. Basically, it describes the desired performance or behaviour. Moreover, it utilizes a range in evaluating students’ outputs. This may be in a form of grades, ranks of success, or points of achievement. Lastly, the dimensions of the task are pointed out such as the necessary skills and knowledge involved.

“You’ll find that rubrics can inform and improve your teaching. The criteria you use to determine a high level or excellent performance provide directions for your teaching and goals for your students. Rubrics can be time savers. With some practice, you should be able to make some assessment in just a few minutes after reading or examining a student’s work product” (Fiderer, 1999, p.6).

Rubrics have a number of benefits. With this tool, students can have a better understanding of what is expected of them. Thus, they can enhance their performance by having a clearer framework. In the same light, the teacher can enrich his assessment skills by being more objective. The rubrics can aid in evaluating with more consistency. A rubric is also an excellent source of feedback regarding the teacher’s instruction. In addition, it can decrease the amount of time spent on checking papers and appraising output since the criteria make decision making faster.

            In designing a rubric, there are four key stages. These are reflecting, listing, grouping and labelling, and application (Fiderer, 1999). Firstly, the teacher has to think about the learning goals that the students have to achieve. He should ponder on how this specific assignment can benefit the learning process. Subsequently, the necessary qualities of an ideal output should be listed. The descriptions are better written in phrases to make them more concise. Thirdly, related characteristics should be grouped together. Ideas that do not seem connected are advised to be removed. Each group of characteristics are then to be labelled. One or two words may suffice like creativity, content, and paragraph construction. These labels are to be applied as dimensions and placed in the rubric’s far left column. Descriptions for each level in every dimension are then to be identified.

Moskal (2000) stated that rubrics are to be used when it suits the purpose of the evaluation. For instance, it is often better to use checklists than rubrics in assessing tasks that require restricted data. On the other hand, rubrics are efficient in explaining how certain criteria are reached by the student. These have been employed in assessing different subjects like Math and Science as well as individual and group activities such as orations and role plays. Generally, it is ideal to make use of rubrics when it offers adequate feedback and justify how a specific benchmark has been met.

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