Once you've created
your rubric, the next step is to use it. As stated before, during the creation
process, you should have taken into account both who would be using the
rubric and who would see the rubric. Here are some guidelines for putting
the rubric to use. They may seem like a lot, but as you begin to use more
rubrics, these guidelines will become second nature.
Begin slow. The first time
you use a rubric, you should carefully look over the student's work to
make sure that you have a good idea of how to interpret your criteria
and scoring dimensions. Often, as you go through a rubric for the first
time, you change your mind at some point on the scoring divisions on
at least one of the criteria. You are then left to go back through what
you have already looked at to see if they need corrected.
Try hard to stick to the rubric.
As you deviate from the rubric, you enter your own personal biases into
the scoring. You also may not deviate in the same way from one student
to the next, reducing the reliability of the rubric.
Monitor your thinking as you
go through the assignments to insure that you are maintaining consistency.
Train multiple scorers. If
you will have more than one person using the same rubric, it is very
important that you achieve inter-scorer reliability and consistency.
One method of helping to maintain consistency is to first test scorers
on a small sample of student work to make sure that they provide the
same results and results that are in line with your expectations. An
example of such a situation would be when two different instructors teach
two different sections of the same class. They may score the same rubric
in different ways, making one section's scores appear different than
the others in a manner that is not related to student knowledge, instructor
ability, or some other variable.
Beware of boredom. As you
grade many papers, no matter what method you use, it can become tedious
as you reach later papers. It is not uncommon to begin to think of the
current paper as no different from the last and thus probably deserving
of the same grade. Especially when you have an analytical rubric, you
can't judge a final score based on the look and the feel of an assignment.
You have to maintain diligence.
Along the same lines, don't
skim. I once had an instructor way back in high school who obviously
skimmed student work. Several students would add sentences randomly
to their work such as "You stink." although often in not
such nice language, and the instructor went most of the year without
or at least not saying anything. There is more to a paper, and you
can extrapolate the context to other assignments, than the first sentence
of every paragraph and the overall length.
It is not how a paper looks
that you are scoring, but the work inside. While presentation may be
a part of the score, don't let an initial impression bias your assessment
of the content.
You are not grading the student,
but their work. Just because you like a student or s/he always does well
in the course, does not mean that the current assignment is as good as
the others. From personal experience, I would always try to get the best
score as possible on the first assignments and actively participate at
the beginning of a course. These first impressions can carry over into
a course. Even though the student may begin to slack off, their future
scores may not accurately portray this situation if bias affects his/her
Avoid empathic scoring unless
that is your intent. In other words, unless effort is one of your criteria,
you shouldn't grade the final work on it. If something comes easier to
one student over another, then an accurate grade may reflect that if
the slower students are not able to complete quality work. Unless there
is an individualized education plan with accommodations for effort or
some other factor, it should usually not come into your scoring. An A
for effort is great as one part of an overall grade, but it should not
be so great as to raise a letter grade unless there is a clear objective
Order effects. After viewing
10 good assignments, the next assignment that doesn't measure up may
be given a lower grade than it deserves. The corollary would be true
when 10 bad assignments are viewed followed by an average one that is
given a higher grade than it deserves.
The error of central tendency.
It was mentioned before that some rubric developers prefer to use an
even numbered scale as opposed to an odd one. The reason is that you
may tend to feel that if a work is average, then it deserves a 3 out
of 5. The problem is that 5 is not above average, but excellent. When
you have a 5 point scale, don't forget to use 4 and 2 when a work is
deserving of those intermediate scores.
Possible pitfalls with multiple
scorers exist. Use a sample score and training to bring the scorers together.
error. One scorer is harder or easier than the other.
Trait error. One scorer
is harder or easier on a specific criteria.
Length effects. One
scorer tends to grade easier as the assignments get longer or the
more assignments that have already been viewed.
One scorer may like one student or believe that a given topic is
more important. Sometimes the only way to correct for such an error
is to add a weighting factor on final grades. Determining what
that weighting factor is can be difficult though and require you
to go through many samples of that graders work in order to compare
it to the others and determine what corrections need to be made.
Self-scoring. Some people
are harder on themselves than others.
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