How Rubrics Enable Feedback

March 23, 2016 Jacob Catalano

You know student feedback is one of the most important components to empower your students to succeed. Knowing it doesn’t mean it’s always easy to act on that knowledge. When faculty must deal with high student-to-faculty ratios along with a publish-or-perish culture, regular office hours, and a long list of other responsibilities, it’s hard to provide detailed feedback to every student who could benefit from it.

Rubrics were designed to help simplify the process of grading all those subjective projects that require more work and analysis than multiple-choice exams. Most of the assessments your average professor assigns fall into this category. Think of how often students are assigned essays, presentations, group projects, clinicals, art projects—you get the picture.

All that stuff is great for learning—necessary even—but it can be a pain to grade. It requires far more focus, time, and analytical energy than simply receiving the automated results from a multiple-choice exam.

What Rubrics Are

Rubrics are an ExamSoft product that give teachers the means to better organize the grading process for subjective assignments. ExamSoft users know that it’s easy to receive automated, detailed reports showing students’ exam results. Rubrics allow you to create the same sort of reports for all your subjective assignments (although not automated—there’s no way software could do the job you do evaluating a subjective assessment).

As you’re creating a subjective assignment in ExamSoft, you can outline the criteria on which portion of the assignment should be graded as you go. The particular skills, competencies, or learning objectives your assignment is meant to demonstrate and measure can all be mapped out before the assignment ever reaches your students.

That way, when the time comes to go back and do your grading, you have clear reminders of what to look for and grade on, which then turns into clear exam data once you complete your grading.

How Rubrics Enable Easy Student Feedback

In addition to providing a measure of how students have performed on each of the criteria you’ve chosen for the assignment, you can also include comments as you grade. In this way, any professor that releases rubric results to students ensures they receive detailed feedback that outlines:

  • Exactly which learning objectives and competency areas they performed well in

  • Which areas they need to work on so they know what to prioritize in their studies

  • Any additional comments and feedback the professor knows they’ll benefit from

The result is a student with a clearer idea of how they’re doing and how to improve, without too much extra time or work required on the professor’s part.

Any opportunity for increased efficiency will be a boon to your faculty. Rubrics can help achieve the level of personalized attention and feedback they’d like to give every student, without requiring a quantity of time and effort they just don’t have to give. Your students will benefit. Your faculty will be able to grade more efficiently. On top of everything else, administrators will get more data from a wider range of assignments to gauge how well everything is working. Everyone wins.

If you’d like to learn more about how implementing rubrics would work at your school, we’d be happy to talk you through it. Just get in touch.

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