Using Rubrics to Evaluate Student Work

I had a “conversation” with my son, a high school senior, about a project he recently turned in for his AP psychology class. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Did you get your project back?

My son: Yes.

Me: Well?

My son: Well, what?

Me: How did you do?

My son: I got an 84. I thought for sure I was going to get an A.

Me: Do you know what you did wrong?

My son: No, she just gave me an 84, and said it could have been better.

As a former educator, I could only shake my head and wonder why the teacher left her student in the dark about an assignment. I mean, where was the rubric? Rubrics are an assessment tool to evaluate student work based on a pre-determined set of criteria. A single number grade just doesn’t work as well for things like projects and writing assignments.

With the traditional form of grading, students go into their assignment and, hopefully, do their best. Based on their own self-assessments, they hand in their work thinking they did a great job. Once grades are given, students realize they missed the mark on what the teacher expected.

Providing a rubric does two things:

(1) properly sets students’ expectations on how they will be graded, and

(2) effectively demonstrates areas of improvement for future assignments.

Rubrics take the guessing game out of the equation. They give students an idea of how to make their work worthy of high marks, without having to hope what they did will be enough.

When you incorporate rubrics into the learning experience, it’s important that the rubric is accessible. Your LMS is a great place to store your rubrics so students can refer back to them as needed.

Imagine the impact this could have on communication amongst students and their teachers. Rubrics allow students to take charge of their work and give them an idea of the goal they should be reaching to attain.

If you’d like to start using rubrics to grade project-based assignments, try some online templates as a starting point. Once you get your rubric in place, watch the power they have on your students, their grades and their improvement.