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Why Are Rubrics Important to Classroom Success?

A teacher sits at his desk grading student assignments.When it comes to grading student work, consistency and transparency are key. Several teachers evaluating the same work will arrive at the same grade using an established rubric. That gives teachers a consistent way to approach assessment while also giving students the security of knowing what teachers will evaluate and that the process is fair.

Different types of rubrics also allow teachers to quickly provide feedback to students on areas where their work needs improvement. This process gives students a clearer idea of what they do well and where to focus their efforts to improve their grades.

Rubrics are so central to classroom success that Fresno Pacific University, which specializes in offering online professional development courses for educators, has an entire course dedicated to the subject called Rubrics: Good For Teachers, Good For Students.

Example of Rubrics

A rubric is a set of scoring guidelines that teachers can use to evaluate student work consistently. By developing a rubric, teachers create “a working guide for students to use as a tool throughout the assignment,” according to Teacher First. “Teachers provide the scaffolding necessary to improve the quality of their students’ work and to increase the knowledge that the students acquire.”

In other words, students understand “what counts” in an assignment.

For example, a rubric for an essay writing assignment might state that teachers will evaluate students on the organization, writing mechanics, voice and use of detail in the essay. For a project that involves the creation of a cell model, a rubric might specify the materials required to make the model, how to label cell parts and how to present research notes properly.

Different Types of Rubrics

One of the benefits of rubrics is flexibility. Educators can tailor rubrics to each task, making them more complex as assignments become more difficult. Designed correctly, they also help students see that learning involves acquiring specific skills and allows them to conduct self-assessment.

Teachers typically design rubrics in one of three ways.

Analytic Rubric

This type of rubric uses a grid with the criteria for a project listed in the left-hand column, such as clarity, organization and writing mechanics. Across the top are performance levels, such as above average, sufficient, and needs improvement. This type of rubric works well in assessing multiple criteria in a single rubric. Teachers can also weigh the criteria listed in the left-hand column to indicate the most important ones.

Developmental Rubrics

This is a subset of analytic rubrics that also uses a grid pattern. However, teachers do not use this type of rubric to evaluate the end result of a student project. Instead, they assess the extent to which students are developing necessary skills. These rubrics are useful when the goal is evaluating development, not evaluating a final product for a grade.

Holistic Rubric

This type of rubric uses a single scale to evaluate a student’s overall performance by considering all the criteria and judging the work (above average, needs improvement, etc.). The advantage of a holistic rubric is that it focuses more on what the student achieved rather than evaluating each criterion of the project.

The Fresno Pacific University Rubrics Course

The online Rubrics: Good for Teachers, Good for Students course allows educators to deepen their knowledge of creating successful rubrics while also earning important professional development credits. Completing the course also is credited toward earning a Curriculum Design and Assessment Certificate or Student Engagement Certificate.

In the rubrics course, teachers learn the differences between various types of rubrics and how to choose the right one for different situations. They also apply a self-created rubric to an assignment grading process.

Most importantly, the course teaches the details for creating rubrics that benefit both teachers and students.

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