Rubrics Part 2: Is it the discussion rather than the rubric that helps?

I’ve been thinking about the comments I’ve got to my last post on ‘The search for meaning: can a rubric help?

Maybe it’s less a case of Does a rubric help? and more a question of Does having a community discuss a rubric help?!

My colleague Karen LaBonte suggests that, no matter how collaboratively contructed, “all rubrics are a way we deceive ourselves and our students about everything from issues of power in the classroom and who doesn’t have it (hello, Foucault) to the myth that objective assessment is possible”.

Karen has suggested to me that it’s more honest to acknowledge that it’s the teacher who (no matter how experienced and knowledgeable) is making a subjective judgement, and that this should be reflected in the rubric.

I like this point and have had a go at amending the rubric as follows:


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4 Responses to Rubrics Part 2: Is it the discussion rather than the rubric that helps?

  1. Interesting post. It’s something I’ve been considering recently, as I put together rubrics that can be widely used for digital narratives. Now that I’ve seen yours, I think I’ll have a fresh attempt 🙂

    Martin Jorgensen

  2. Angela says:

    Yeah, I’m thinking that if we use rubrics as evaluation tools for teachers, then what Karen is saying is absolutely true. I think it makes sense to be transparent about that as well. Great conversation with kids could ensue around audience and the importance of trying to know that audience and how they will judge your work before you deliver it. Important things to consider. Thanks for this series…rubrics are one of my favorite things to think about.

  3. kellimcgraw says:

    As well as using this for peer assessment (as suggested in the previous post), this rubric could be used for student self-assessment.

    Just an idea, but – rather than using the rubric to communicate a grade you could:
    * take the numerical grades out of the rubric
    * the rubric (and perhaps an overall comment) becomes the only form of assessment feedback (i.e. if they have two criteria circled in column one, and another two circled in column three, they don’t just average out to “6.5” or “C”)
    * if you need to record a grade you can – it just doesn’t have to be part of the feedback
    * to motivate students to create their ‘best’ work, perhaps the best three chosen by the teacher and the best three chosen by audience acclaim could get a special award, or a fancy screening.

    I do think that rubrics are very important, as they create a degree of transparency to a task. Objectivity is certainly a myth, which is why it is important for teachers to declare their subjectivities. Whether it is conscious or not, we have certain standards in our mind that we are looking for – it’s only fair to be up front about what they are.

  4. steveshann says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Kelli, I’ve done another draft, this time re-instating the category about voice. I’m not sure why I dropped it in the first draft!

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