Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sharing paper assignment rubrics

An ISW loyalist writes:
I am a philosophy professor and have long followed and profited from In Socrates Wake - thanks for sharing your wisdom!  I use rubrics for paper assignments; I've found them very useful - both pedagogically, and for grading - and I am constantly tweaking them from semester to semester.  I wonder what other peoples' rubrics look like - it would be nice to have a collection of them with comments from their creators about what they like and don't like about them.
Certainly- grading rubrics are a great topic. The writer sent along this rubric to get the discussion going. Please share the rubrics you use, and let's hear feedback about the merits of different rubrics. Thanks!


  1. I don't think you'd be interested in my rubrics, which are designed to provide me with clear and consistent scoring criteria for high school students.

    Sharing my rubric with students helps to clarify what I expect and can help avoid any number of arguments about why they received the grade they did.

  2. I'm forced by my university to use a generic rubrics on all assignment. It is a hot mess ....the categories to grade overlap, criteria are unclear, point distribution follows no logical pattern, etc.

  3. My rubric is pretty basic. I give it to students at the beginning of the semester and tell them it represents what I am looking for in a paper. I don't actually fill it out when grading papers - just refer to the items in my comments.

    The first two parts are critical thinking and content specific items. I also have a section on basic mechanics and one on documentation.

    Critical Thinking

    The problem is clearly identified.
    Various perspectives are identified and assessed.
    Various assumptions are identified and assessed.
    Data is accurate and clearly presented.
    Conclusions, implications, and consequences are identified and assessed.

    Content Specific information: Ethics

    Demonstrate knowledge of major ethical theories
    Demonstrate ability to apply ethical theories to contemporary issues
    Demonstrate ability to compare and contrast ethical theories

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  6. I don't think of this as a rubric because there's no chart or numbers, but it helps the students and me:


    — Obvious understanding of article or problem
    — Clear explanation of all that needs explaining (i.e., the evidence and reasoning used to get to your conclusion)
    — Good argument — e.g., takes seriously possible objections
    — Completion of all aspects of the assignment
    — Displays particularly interesting and original thought which furthers the conversation. That is, is particularly insightful and/or creative

    B :

    — Does all for an A but not as well (some minor flaws — perhaps not as original, not as
    clear, etc.) Basically, the sort of paper which, with some (thought not extensive) work such as tightening things up, tweaking arguments a bit, etc. , could become an A paper

    C :

    — Does the assignment and does not obviously misunderstand crucial elements
    — Provides some semblance of an argument but doesn’t fully get reader to the conclusion
    — But either no demonstration of complete and clear understanding of any
    of the elements of the assignment or argument does not take the opposing view seriously

    [The difference between B & C turns on the number of minor flaws]


    Fundamental misunderstanding of article or issue
    No apparent argument
    Very poorly written — paper filled with grammatical errors.

    F :

    Shows no understanding of argument
    Does not follow assignment. Quality of work is irrelevant in this case
    Plagiarized portion of paper

    Things that can lower grade

    — misunderstanding of ideas
    — problems with clarity
    — flippant
    — doesn’t take a position seriously

    Things that can raise grade

    — original ideas
    — especially well-written
    — good argument
    — interesting insights

  7. Rubrics have become a bit of an obsession in my life - resulting in my wiki: QualityRubrics.pbworks.com. It's been fascinating to see how the definition of what "counts" as a rubric ebb and flow recently. I tried to create a resource for educators to explore how rubrics can help inform teaching and learning and how they can interfere. Please feel free to shout if I can provide any additional resources or catch me on Twitter (@datadiva).

  8. My rubric and explanation here. Not doing anything much beyond those already cited, but perhaps usefully framed.


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