Next Exit: Assessment

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

A few months ago, I wrote a series of posts about the book Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning by Jan Chappuis. (Click here to see the full list of posts.)

One of the handy tips that came up in the book was about writing effective rubrics. The author suggests that rubrics created on a 5-level scale should only include descriptors for levels 1, 3, and 5. A student scores at one of these levels if their work demonstrates ALL of the listed descriptors at a particular level.

If the student demonstrates a mix of descriptors, then they would score at the in-between level. For example, if they demonstrated some qualities of a 5 and some qualities of a 3, then they would score a 4.

I found this method to help me more appropriately define the quality of work expected. Typically, I would create rubrics using 4 levels (for A, B, C, and F), and I have always struggled with defining B-level work appropriately. After discussing this issue with colleagues, I realized that a lot of us had the same questions: “How do you define the difference between an A and a B? Between a B and a C?”.  The resulting answers, in my opinion, often led to rubrics that looked something like this:

A = Phenomenal (as in, you probably don’t need this class)
B = Good enough
C = Not so good, but not bad enough to fail
F = No good

Really, though, a C (at Delaware Tech, at least) should represent “satisfactory” work–that is, C-level work is what would be expected of an entry-level employee.

Using this new method suggested in the book, in which I can only define the best, the worst, and the minimum acceptable levels of quality, my job becomes a lot easier and, I think, my students get a fairer look at what’s expected.

The title of this post promises “some rubrics for review”, so here they are. I’ve revised my rubrics for the four major assignments required for ENG 102. Take a look, use them if you wish, modify freely, and please offer suggestions or critiques in the comment box!

Rubric for Reflective Essay

Rubric for Synthesis Essay

Rubric for Persuasive Essay

Rubric for Research Presentation

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