Do you feel about some rubrics the way I do? Many rubrics are vague and/or combine too many different criteria in one box.

Take this for example:

  • Excellent use of language and punctuation
  • Uses figurative language very well
  • Excellent choice of words
  • Tone and register highly suited to the topic
  • Almost no errors after proofreading and editing

This is for ONE descriptor box on the rubric, and it is for a possible 5 marks! 

I have these issues with it:

  1. It mixes up very different aspects of writing - technical (punctuation and errors), expressive (word choice and figurative language) and tone.
  2. Each of these major aspects of writing deserves a rubric score of its own.
  3. But, if I divide up the box into 5 sub-scores, that leaves me with a mere 1 mark for each. That means 0% or 100% for something complex like punctuation.
  4. Besides that, what does “excellent” mean (as opposed to “very good” in the neighbouring box)?

To mark using this is an impossibility, so what one probably does is just give an impression mark, exactly what the rubric is supposed to eliminate. 

Or, you could use a spreadsheet.

Spreadsheet Rubric

This is what I did with this rubric:

  1. Multiplied the allocated marks by 5 - I now have a 5 point scale to work with for each of those complex aspects that is being assessed.
  2. Organised it a bit better.
  3. Put a formula in D1 to add up the marks received: eg =SUM(D3:D7) (14 in this example)
  4. Put a formula in F1 to work out a mark: Divide the total by 5 again (and round up), so as to get the correctly weighted mark: =ROUND(SUM(D3:D7)/5,0)

Filling in one of these for each paper marked (preferably paperlessly using Google Classroom) would actually be useful for the student. I could even add a comment for any aspect that was particularly praiseworthy or problematic.

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