Do you need a rubric?

Someone has recalled a book I borrowed from the University Library, so that has made me look at the book and consider why I borrowed it in the first place. The book is Introduction to Rubrics by Stevens and Levi (2013). I think I borrowed this book because I knew that my colleagues who are interested in curriculum desig,n and in assessment, had been asking me about rubrics. So before I return the book to the library I’ll share just a little bit with you.

Stevens and Levi pose the following question, ‘How to you know if you need a rubric?’ Then do on to say ‘One sure sign in if you check off more than about three items from the following list (the list contains 13 items – so I’ll just share small sample with you):

* You work with colleagues and collaborate on designing the same assignments for program courses, yet you wonder if your grading scales are different.
* You’ve sometimes been disappointed by whole assignments because all or most of your class turned out to be unaware of academic expectations so basic that you neglected to mention them (e.g., the need for citations or page numbers).
* You have worked very hard to explain the complex end-of-term paper, yet students are starting to regard you as an enemy out to trick them with incomprehensible assignments.
* You are starting to wonder if they’re right.

Clearly Stevens and Levi have a sense of humour. It looks as though I’ll have to re-borrow this book at some point in the future because I have not made through to the final chapter on ‘Rubrics and Program Assessment’ and yet, I am liking that chapter already:

Want to know how to clear an entire building of faculty offices in less than two minutes? No, it has nothing to do with smashing glass, pulling a handle, or yelling, “Fire!”, Simply murmer the words “progarm assessment,” and watch as the halls and offices empty. For many faculty members, those two words bring up stress-filled memories of hours of paperwork; even more hours of pointless, conflict-ridden meetings; and at the end of it all, a report that bears no resemblance to they do, what they want to do daily, and what real difference it will make in student learning. Program assessment doesn’t have to be like that. It isn’t always like that, but we all remember cases when it has been.

I’ll keep you posted on what I find out next!


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