Rubrics are a form of scoring tool, which list evaluation criteria for assessment against markers or descriptors of quality for each criteria. The use of rubrics for summative assessment has been widely taken up, often in an attempt to strengthen the reliability of assessment practices (Reddy & Andrare, 2010). Rubrics can improve student performance in a number of ways including, developing teachers’ awareness of alignment, increasing transparency related to quality, and in so doing reducing student anxiety, supporting the feedback process, enabling students to make better use of feedback, and helping students better direct their attention (Panadero and Jonsson, 2013).
The use of rubrics has received plenty of attention in the contemporary summative assessment literature. However, the use of rubrics in formative, and collaborative ways is less commonly taken up in practice. Fraile et al (2017) report on the use of co-created rubrics which improved students self-regulation and self-efficacy. The describe the negotiation of criteria and quality demanded in the co-creation of rubrics as a learning activity rather than an assessment activity (Joseph et al, 2019).
Balch et al contrast holistic, analytical, developmental and single-point rubrics. In the past I have made extensive use of analytic rubrics for formative feedback and summative assessment. At first I quite liked that my rubrics offered maximum transparency, developing as I marked to reflect what my students did well or poorly. But this development of the rubric was time-consuming for me, and my students would receive a fairly complicated document with highlights and strike-throughs and, in general, much more content to navigate than is necessary. While detailed rubrics reassure me in terms of the validity of the assessment and the standardisation of my marking, they either offer poor feedback for improvement for students or become painfully extensive to navigate.
So I’ve recently been experimenting with single point rubrics. Searching for all the possible combinations of “single-point rubric” and “single point rubrics” returns fewer than two hundred references in total in Google scholar – so this particular assessment and feedback choice remains relatively under-utilized. (Dynamic assessment for comparison returns more than 48 000 results.) Like other rubrics, single-point rubrics establish criteria for assessment and maps these onto a single description for quality – the proficient level. To the left of this description of proficiency is a blank space, allowing assessors to comment on what needs work or improvement, to the right of the proficiency descriptor is place to comment on what exceeded expectations (Fluckiger, 2010).
While retaining many of the benefits of a traditional, analytic rubric, I found single-point rubrics more use-able from a student perspective. They could easily see what needed work, and what didn’t, without potentially confusing comments they needed to filter out. And co-creating the rubric became much easier. So, having tried those out in an informal course, I’m committed to trying them out in 2020 in my formal teaching. I’m excited to see particularly if this allows me a way to credit unexpected brilliance in my stduents where they exceed my expectations in ways that I want to acknowledge but might not have anticipated.
Andrade, H. G. (2005). Teaching with rubrics: The good, the bad, and the ugly. College teaching, 53(1), 27-31.
Balch, D., Blanck, R., & Balch, D. H. (2016). Rubrics–Sharing the Rules of the Game. Journal of Instructional Research, 5, 19-49.
Fluckiger, J. (2010). Single point rubric: A tool for responsible student self-assessment. The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 76(4), 18.
Fraile, J., Panadero, E., & Pardo, R. (2017). Co-creating rubrics: The effects on self-regulated learning, self-efficacy and performance of establishing assessment criteria with students. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 53, 69-76.
Joseph, S., Rickett, C., Northcote, M., & Christian, B. J. (2019). ‘Who are you to judge my writing?’: Student collaboration in the co-construction of assessment rubrics. New Writing, 1-19.
Panadero, E., & Jonsson, A. (2013). The use of scoring rubrics for formative assessment purposes revisited: A review. Educational research review, 9, 129-144.
Reddy, Y. M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & evaluation in higher education, 35(4), 435-448.