For the Love of Rubrics

Picture of people frustrated and confused with rubricsIn past posts, we have discussed how to create rubrics, why we use rubrics at UNE, and how to use rubrics in Blackboard. This particular post will focus on the different types of rubrics one may encounter and what they look like. There are three main types of rubrics: holistic, analytic, and a love child of the two that we’ll call single point.

Holistic Rubric

A holistic rubric provides the students and faculty with different proficiency levels. For each level, all the criteria are listed describing what a student would have to do to achieve each. Let’s take a look at this example from the Ohio Department of Education: Holistic Rubric Example.

As you can see from this example there are four proficiency levels and each level has a corresponding point or grade. For each level, there is a list of items on which the presenters will be assessed. This type of rubric is easy to make and grading with it is quick. It is also easily digestible; holistic rubrics are not visually overwhelming to the students or faculty. A holistic rubric does not allow for directed feedback to the students. Because of the lack of feedback, this type of rubric is not a great learning tool. When you use a holistic rubric, be prepared for many questions on why a particular grade was given.

Analytical Rubric

An analytical rubric breaks down an assignment into parts (criteria) instead of grading it as a whole like the holistic rubric. Breaking down the assignment allows faculty to provide feedback on exactly what needs to be improved and gives the learner an individual score for each criteria item. Let’s take a look at an example from a current UNE course (the rubric starts on page 4):

Analytic Rubric Example

As you can see from this example there are 8 criteria items and each criteria item has different proficiency levels. The analytic rubric allows for directed feedback on each criteria item. This makes the analytic rubric a better learning tool than the holistic rubric. It also allows the instructor to explain why a particular score was given without having an additional conversation.

But the analytic rubric also has drawbacks. The analytic rubric is visually overwhelming. Although this rubric breaks everything down into digestible bits, these bits tend to be unappealing to students (like kale). There is a lot of text and a lot of boxes. These rubrics also take much more time to construct.

Love Child Rubric: aka. Single-Point Rubric

The single-point rubric is a combination of the holistic and analytic rubric. The single-point rubric is a one-column rubric (like the holistic rubric) that breaks the assignment down into various criteria items (like the analytic rubric). For each criteria ite,m you would describe the expectations. Instead of providing multiple proficiency levels the focus is on describing the level you want the students should attain (usually a proficient verging on mastery level). In the example below, we took the satisfactory level from the analytic rubric example and used it as the target.

Single-Point Rubric Example

There are many different ways one could construct a single-point rubric. This example is based off both an article written by Jarene Fluckiger in 2010 and a great website called Cult of Pedagogy.

This type of rubric is more visually appealing to students than the analytic rubric, but still clearly conveys expectations. This rubric is a great learning tool and allows for directed feedback. This type of rubric does require a lot of writing on the instructor’s part. Also, because this feedback can vary greatly, if there are multiple sections of the same course, a single-point rubric makes it harder to norm grades among the different instructors.

There are many options when it comes to rubrics. Consider what best fits the assignment and your institution. Do you have multiple sections of the same course? Are there multiple instructors? Is it a formative or summative assignment? Considering these questions will help you decide on which rubric best fits your particular needs.

Now get out there and have fun with rubrics!

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