Mary Ellen Wilkosz

Rubric Mini Grant Program

The purpose of this Small Stipend Project was to develop and utilize a grading rubric in a course to improve student learning outcomes and grading efficiency. The objective was to apply this rubric to a course that we were teaching during the Spring 2015 semester. Prior to applying for this mini grant I was a user and believer in grading rubrics but I applied in order to broaden my knowledge in this area of my teaching.

After sitting down with Noelia and the other project members in February for an overview of the project and comparison of good and not so good rubrics, we discuss the rubric process. Later we had the opportunity to meet one on one with Noelia to develop very specific criteria for each objective making it very clear what the expectation for the students would be for successful completion of the assignment. The assignment currently had a rubric with the same criteria listed but the specific level of proficiency for selecting points was more of a likert scale and was very subjective. In reworking the rubric I made sure that each criteria had very specific proficiency expectations including qualities and characteristics used to demonstrate proficiency making a much more objective tool for the instructors to use for grading and students to use for creation of the assignment.

I took the new rubric to a team meeting to present to the faculty who all thought it was a great new tool and were excited for the students to have access to this very specific criteria used to measure proficiency as well as a much more objective means to evaluate the students. There major concern was that because it was recommended to limit the options for point allotment to include options for earning zero, 5 points, 10 points or 15 points, this might cause grades to be lower until the students also had the benefit of the more specific criteria.

Because the rubrics were developed after the semester was already in progress and I currently include the grading rubrics as part of the syllabus I was not able to actually use the new rubric with my students this semester but asked the faculty who would be grading the assignment to use the rubric so that we could see how it compared to the old rubric for grading. I asked each of five faculty members to grade one Episodic Assignment using the old rubric and re-grade the same assignment using the new rubric and compare. The results were not really a surprise. As predicted in the team meeting increasing the specificity of the proficiency criteria made grading much more straightforward for the faculty but the assigned points for each criteria created a greater penalty for the student who didn’t include thing in their papers so grades were lower. The faculty felt moving forward if the students were also privy to the more specific criteria for proficiency while writing their papers, likely the papers would meet the expectations for the assignment. The faculty reported that grading was much quicker and more efficient because there was no subjectivity regarding should I give them 5 point or 10 points because the criteria was clear.

The faculty took the rubric survey and the data showed that 80% (4) of the faculty frequently used rubrics and 20% (1) had infrequently used rubrics in class. 100% felt that the rubric was helpful in clarifying the key expectations of the assignment as well as helped to guide the organization of the work. All participants also felt that the rubric was a good tool for student to determine the strengths and weakness of their work prior to submission and would be helpful in any necessary revisions.

All faculty also agreed that this rubric would be an excellent tool for explaining to the student exactly where they may have lost points and decrease grading time because they would not need to provide individual feedback to students.

We as a team plan to implement this rubric throughout the program specifying leveled criteria for proficiency during each progressive semester. The real test will be in the Fall when the students have the new rubric with the more specific criteria for proficiency and the faculty will have the opportunity to use the rubric for grading and feedback. I wholeheartedly support rubrics and I appreciate the opportunity to broaden my knowledge in their use.