The Importance of Releasing Rubrics to Students

February 18, 2016 Sarah Zahl

If you are using the Rubrics feature within ExamSoft, you are probably considering releasing the full rubric and results to your students (or perhaps you are doing this already). The Rubrics feature in ExamSoft allows faculty and administrators to quickly and easily release the rubric, results, and comments to students within the system. This post will describe the importance and utility of sharing the rubric and feedback with students on a regular basis.

Remediation and Improvement

One of the primary goals of providing assessment feedback via a rubric is to facilitate remediation and overall student improvement. Categorizing rubric dimensions based on course learning outcomes allows students to identify areas of weakness and improve before the next exam. For example, if your course includes a cumulative rubric-based exam at the end of the course, you can categorize rubric dimensions within each assessment to allow students to determine how they are performing in specific areas within your curriculum. When they notice patterns of strengths and weaknesses on specific outcome areas, they can use this data to help them study and prepare for the final exam. This process facilitates ongoing self-remediation as well as the creation of improvement plans with an adviser. If we simply release a score to the student rather than the rubric and categories, the student may have a difficult time identifying specific areas for improvement.

Preparation for Licensure Exams/Boards

Another important reason to release rubrics and feedback to students is to help them prepare for Boards or licensure exams. We can track student progress on specific rubric categories that correspond with specific coverage areas of Boards. For example, patient care and communication are two very important areas on Board exams in medical fields. When conducting a clinical assessment, the rubric dimensions can be categorized to elements of patient care and communication. This data is helpful to students after a single assessment, but becomes particularly useful when we provide a longitudinal report that captures two years of performance data. When preparing for licensure exams, students can focus on areas of the lowest performance to facilitate improvement.

Assessment Transparency

Most importantly, sharing rubrics and feedback with students promotes assessment transparency and collaboration. Students need to understand why and how we are assessing their learning and development. Clearly defined rubric dimensions remove assessment ambiguity and promote objectivity in an inherently subjective assessment process. By sharing rubrics and feedback with students on a regular basis, they understand that they are collaborators in the assessment process, which encourages them to value assessment and use data and feedback more effectively.


About the Author

Sarah Zahl

Sarah B. Zahl, Ph.D., is the Director of Educational Assessment at the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Zahl earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in Higher Education from Indiana University and a B.S. degree in Journalism from Butler University. She has nine years of experience in academic and student affairs in higher education. In addition to her administrative roles, she has taught courses in Education, Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods, and College Teaching and Learning. Dr. Zahl’s academic interests include competency based assessment, mapping the curriculum, and tracking student success factors during graduate study.

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