Student-centered rubric design

August 25, 2007

Here’s an example of a holistic writing rubric response for a student who has been judged as “approaching” (approaching what? Competence? Excellence? Bethlehem?)…

“Writer presents a wandering, vague, or unfocused controlling purpose or thesis. The paper moves awkwardly from a weak introduction to a conclusion that does not adequately represent the body of the paper. Basic paragraphing exists, but often fails to support or even recognize a central idea, and the use of evidence and examples is inadequate. Sentence and paragraph transitions are often unclear, awkward, indirect, and/or illogical. Tone and diction are often inconsistent and/or inappropriate for the subject and its implied audience. Mechanics (grammar, punctuation, spelling and documentation, if needed) are not well executed and may, at times, obscure meaning.”

Now, it could very well be that the author of this massive paragraph intends the rubric to be used for data gathering, not response to the student. Let’s assume that is the case (I won’t include a source for the above excerpt to avoid getting personal with a hard-working composition teacher somewhere).

At the other end of the spectrum, here’s a criteria from a rubric designed for a marketing class:

“Grammar, clarity of presentation, adequacy of content, attention to details, use of concepts
discussed in class:  …………….”

This criteria was worth 20 points (out of a 100)…so I’m assuming the prof wrote in “16” or similar on the dotted line, and that this rubric was designed expressly for communicating with a student.

First up, it’s great to see educators working hard at including writing in their courses and thinking about what is important in an assignment. The marketing example was included in the class syllabus, and therefore known to students in advance (something many writing teachers don’t do). Kudos on all those points.

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Outcomes: LVAIC 2007

August 1, 2007

We spoke at the Lehigh Valley Technology in the Classroom Symposium today.

Higher education institutions from the Lehigh Valley (in and around Allentown, PA – about an hour north of Philadelphia) gathered to share approaches to common challenges, immerse themselves in some of the latest and greatest things going on in ed tech, and relax their way through a very hot PA summer day.

It was a calm and pleasant way to spend some time getting to know some new schools, talk to the Tablet PC wizzes from Gateway, and talk about everybody’s favorite subject, outcomes.

We got the coveted just-before-lunch time slot, just after a very compelling Beth Ritter-Guth described her amazing uses of Second Life to immerse students in the literary worlds of Beowulf, Edgar Allen Poe, and Dante. Tough act to follow. Now if some foundation would just throw a couple of million bucks into making a totally immersing, photo-realistic Yoknapatawpha County.

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