mardi 25 octobre 2011

The Importance of Rubric Language

For years, I have struggled with the value of rubrics. A well respected colleague of mine told me they were very limiting. When we add descriptors that quantify the information rather than qualify it, the value of the statement given by the student is justified merely by being there rather than by being accurate. Rubrics are not wrong. The language can merely be the obstacle that prevents students from learning from their experiences.

Jan Chappuis describes 3 types of rubric language in her "Seven Strategies" document. I have summarized the ideas below:

1. Descriptive Language

  • Ex: Display of information is accurate, mostly complete, and is mostly organized so that it is easy to interpret. It may have one or two small omissions.
2. Evaluative Language
  • Ex: Good display of information.
3. Quantitative Language
  • Displays three pieces of information.
In the descriptive language rubric, the student knows what he or she has done well and what needs to be improved. It is measurable in a way that the student can understand how to advance their own learning. 

Evaluative language lets the student know they did well. It does not, however, specify how the student has succeeded or what steps need to be taken in order to change the descriptor from good to excellent. 

Quantitative language limits the measure of the work to a number of items included in the work. It is not even clear if these items are accurate or noteworthy. Again, there is no direction for improvement.

It is obvious that it takes descriptive language to involve the student in his or her own assessment. It invites the student to be responsible for his or her own learning and to take the necessary steps to advance that learning. This encourages not only better grades, which are secondary at best, but also skills that will transfer to other areas of learning for this grade and any learning that follows, in or out of school.

2 commentaires:

dkuropatwa a dit…

Having the students design their own rubrics using descriptive language might be an effective approach, no?

Denine a dit…

I love the idea of involving students in the development of rubrics and use this approach on occasion. The drawback here is that time can often be the deterrent. This depends on the groups you are dealing with, of course.

Some years, I have groups who sit back and let the most gifted do all the work. Once they come to use the rubric, they have not taken ownership of it so it means very little to them.

It might be more effective to model effective rubrics at the beginning of the year, and then slowly have them take the reins as the year unfolds.

Thanks for the comment, Darren.