Qualitative grading and feedback with rubrics

A rubric for assessment is a tool used to grade candidates’ work against criteria and standards. Rubrics are also recognized as “qualitative grading methods”  or “scoring guides”. Rubrics can be designed for any type of content.

A rubric is essential for learning and assessments because it articulates the expectations for assignments and performance tasks by listing criteria, and for each criteria, describing levels of quality. A rubric makes specific a range of assessment criteria and predicted overall performance standards. Assessors evaluate a candidate’s overall performance against all of these, instead of assigning a single subjective score.

A description of performance quality give candidates a clear idea about what must be done to demonstrate a certain level of understanding, or proficiency in a subject, test or examination. Rubrics can be used for any assignment in a course, or for any way in which you ask candidates to demonstrate what they’ve learned. They can also be used to facilitate self and peer-reviews of candidate’s work. Rubrics when used in assessment grading, it provides candidates with feedback that is clear, directed and focused on ways to improve learning. Rubrics are often used to provide feedback to candidates on diverse sorts of assignments, from papers, projects, and oral presentations to group projects. It also helps provide feedback on examinations held at every level.

You can use rubrics to structure discussions with candidates about different levels of performance on an assessment task. Candidate can use the rubric during peer or self-assessment, to generate and justify assessments. Once you give an idea of the rubrics system or process to the candidates, you can have them assist within the rubric design process, thus taking more responsibility for his or her own learning.

When to use rubrics

Assessment rubrics can be used for assessing learning at all levels, from home assignments for coaching centers, recruitment-based examinations for recruitment boards, skill-based tests for corporates, high stake examinations for universities, colleges and school boards. IntelliEXAMS assessment solution is equipped with rubrics making the workload of all assessment bodies easier.

Benefits of Assessment rubrics:

A carefully designed rubric provides numerous benefits.

Rubrics help assessors to:

  • Reduce the time spent grading by allowing assessors to refer to a substantive description without writing long comments
  • Help assessors more clearly identify strengths and weaknesses across an entire class and adjust their instruction appropriately
  • Helps to make sure that there is consistency across time and across graders
  • Reduces the uncertainty which might accompany grading
  • Give timely, effective feedback and promote candidates learning in a sustainable way.
  • Reduction in time spent on grading; Increase in time spent on teaching.

An effective rubric can also offer several important benefits to candidates.

Rubrics help candidates to:

  • Understand assessors’ expectations and standards
  • Use assessment feedback to improve their performance
  • Monitor and assess their progress / performance as they work towards clearly indicated goals
  • Become a lot more attentive to their learning methods and progress.
  • Recognize their strengths and weaknesses and direct their efforts consequently

Designing a rubric for assessments

Rubrics for assessment can be analytic or holistic.

  • Analytic rubrics have variety of dimensions, with performance indicators for levels of achievement in every dimension. Analytic rubrics separate different assessment criteria and address them extensively. Analytic rubric consists values that can be expressed both numerically or with the aid of letter grade, or a scale from Exceptional to Poor (or Professional to Amateur, and so on). It consists of the assessment standards for every component.
  • Holistic rubrics assess the entire task consistent with one scale, and are appropriate for much less structured tasks, like open-ended issues and creative products. A holistic rubric describes the general characteristics of a performance and provides one score. Holistic rubrics group many completely different assessment criteria and classify them together below grade headings or achievement levels. Holistic rubrics are specifically designed for writing assignments.

Assessment rubrics are composed of three elements:

  • a set of criteria that provides an interpretation of the declared objectives (performance, behavior, quality)
  • a range of various levels of overall performance between highest and lowest
  • descriptors that specify the performance corresponding to every level, to allow assessors to interpret which level has been met.

One useful design strategy is to take a generic assessment rubric that fits properly with the assessment task objectives, discipline, level and different contextual setting, and adapt it for rewriting the attribute descriptions to replicate the course context, aims and learning outcomes, and to apply to the specific assessment task.

Decide how the judgments at every level of attainment will flow through into the overall grading method and how rubric levels correspond to grades. IntelliEXAMS assists assessment bodies by enabling them to select and customize the rubrics based on their assessment grading needs. It also helps the assessors by providing an accurate and precise details of performance through intuitive performance analytics.

Although it takes time in designing a rubric, it will save time in the long run as grading and providing feedback on candidates work will become more streamlined.

Steps for conducting assessment with rubrics

  • Ensure that assessment rubrics are prepared and available for candidates well before they start work on tasks, in order for the rubric designed to contribute to the candidate’s learning as they complete the work.
  • Discuss assessment rubrics with candidates in class time. Use these discussions to refine and improve rubrics in response to candidates’ common misunderstandings and misconceptions.
  • Practice using rubrics in class. Have candidates assess their own, their peers’ and others’ work.
  • Involve candidates in developing assessment rubrics and involve them more as they become competent in doing so. This encourages them to be more independent and to manage their own learning.
  • Frame your assessment feedback to candidates in the terms laid out in the rubric, so that they can clearly see where they have succeeded or performed less within the task.

Use of technology for assessment rubrics

Learning management systems often allow the use of rubrics in assessment, including peer and self-assessment. In IntelliEXAMS assessment solution, you can create a rubric and use it to grade activities such as assignments, discussions, tests and examinations.

With IntelliEXAMS, the result of On-Screen Marking (OSM) is shared in the Onscreen Grading System (OGS) module where the grading logic calculates the final marks along with rubrics for a subject for a candidate. Using rubrics, even a qualitative analysis of a candidate is done apart from the quantitative analysis. This helps the assessment bodies to prepare an improvement plan for the candidate. In addition, in onscreen marking there are options to set up rubrics, that can set score boundaries for evaluators, thus limiting the risk of an incorrect mark value being given to the candidate. Therefore, rubrics can be excellent tools to use when assessing candidates’ work for measuring their performances accurately.