Emily K. Asencio

(CCJS Department)
Spring 2015

Summary of Rubric Project Experience

For participation in the “Using Rubrics To Improve Student Learning Outcomes and Grade Efficiently” project, I implemented a formal grading rubric for a group project in my Criminology course (CCJS 420). This course serves 25 major students each semester, and I will continue to teach this course each semester for the foreseeable future. I did not have prior experience implementing formal rubrics for class assignments prior to participating in the project. However, I have traditionally shared an informal list of grading criteria for various assignments in my courses as I definitely believe that it is important for students to understand what the expectations are in order to be successful.

The specific assignment I used for this project is a group assignment which culminates in a group paper and presentation on one of several Criminological Theories. In addition to guiding students about how to formulate and present the content of their assignment, I believe that the expectations set forth in the rubric serve the additional purpose of creating common goals for group work rather than group members having to hammer that out themselves. This allows the students to focus on directing the content towards the outcome measures instead of having to direct energy toward figuring out what the outcome measures will be.

In addition to learning the process of creating formal rubrics (including the best use of terminology, and effective ways to specify exactly what the expectations are for each section, I learned the technical aspects of creating and implementing the rubric as well. After helping me establish the criteria for the rubric, Noelia Franzen from The Faculty Center assisted me in setting things up in Moodle so that I could use Moodle to do my grading via the rubric I designed with her help.

Once the rubric was established in Moodle I shared it with my students by projecting our course Moodle site on to the screen in the classroom and stepping through each criteria and associated scoring pattern with the students. Anecdotally, I found that presenting and discussing the rubric with the students provided them with a stronger understanding of the requirements of the assignment up front, and that they were able to ask more informed, directed questions about the assignment and the grading after exposure to the rubric than they were before exposure. Ultimately, this ability likely increased their changes of achieving high grades on this assignment as they really understood the expectations clearly and were able to tailor their work more precisely to meet these expectations. I have no empirical evidence that their high scores on this assignment (class average of 95.4) are directly related to the formal implantation of the grading rubric, but I will say that I definitely felt the projects this semester were more directed at meeting the criteria for grading than in past semesters.

After grading was completed, I invited students to respond to the survey provided by The Faculty Center about the student experience with the rubric. I felt this feedback was really important to obtain so I set aside some time in class that the students used to complete the survey rather than hoping they would respond to the survey on their own time. This yielded a response rate of almost 100% (only 1 student out of 25 did not complete the survey). The results of this survey support my theory that rubrics are important in guiding students to successful completion of assignments, and suggest that the use of a rubrics is generally regarded as helpful and positive by students in my class.

For example, 23 of the students in my class reported that the rubric was helpful to very helpful

in organizing their assignments (see Chart 1 below).

Helpful for Organization.  How helpful was the rubric in guding the organization.  1 student said 3 11 students gave it a rating between 4-5.  15 students rated 5-6.

Similarly, Chart 2 demonstrates that the rubric was helpful to students in understanding their final grade after the assignment was complete.

Helpful in Understanding Grade!  2 students gave it a rating between 3 and 4.  10 students gave it a rating between 4-5.  11 students gave it a rating between 5-6.

Finally, the survey results show that a full 100 percent of the students who responded felt that other professors should be using rubrics to guide students through assignments. In addition to the overwhelming support of students for using rubrics for grading, there are many benefits for the instructor. While formalizing the rubric may take some time in the beginning, I feel there are substantial rewards for investing this initial time. The findings from the survey suggest that rubrics are a way to reduce workload for professors in terms of providing a clear explanation of the assignment and the grading system at the same time. This helps to reduce the need for individual discussions about expectations and grading. Additionally, using the rubric as a guide for grading makes the grading process much more streamlined, which also saves time. I found this to be especially true for using Moodle to do my grading.

Overall, I found participation in the rubric project to be fruitful and informative. In fact, the rubric worked so well for my project in my Criminology class that I am also implementing rubrics in my other two classes this semester.