Embracing the 4th “R” in the Classroom – Rubrics Rule for a Reason

Rubrics It seems the rubrics have been all the rage over the past few years, and here at SMU it is no different. While many instructors have found success for their students and themselves using rubrics in their courses, others are not quite so sure about their usefulness. I believe that using rubrics has improved my own classroom teaching, and most importantly, the learning of our students. This seems to be an increasing trend at some of the best universities.

For example, the following bullet points are from Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Excellence – the entire post on these can be found here:

Why use rubrics?

Rubrics help instructors:

– Assess assignments consistently from student-to-student.
– Save time in grading, both short-term and long-term.
– Give timely, effective feedback and promote student learning in a sustainable way.
– Clarify expectations and components of an assignment for both students and course TAs.
– Refine teaching skills by evaluating rubric results.

Rubrics help students:

– Understand expectations and components of an assignment.
– Become more aware of their learning process and progress.
– Improve work through timely and detailed feedback.
– How can you develop a rubric?

Getting Started

– Start small by creating one rubric for one assignment in a semester.
– Ask colleagues if they have developed rubrics for similar assignments.
– Although it takes time to build a rubric, time will be saved in the long run as grading and providing feedback on student work will become more streamlined.

Another great way for new faculty members to get started is to attend our own upcoming SMU CTE workshop “Save Time & Get Better Student Work: Developing & Using Rubrics” being offered by Barbara Morganfield, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Teaching & Learning, and me on Monday November 11 from 3:30-5:00 PM in Umphrey Lee room 241.  This workshop is part of CTE’s New Faculty Teaching Excellence program, aimed at faculty members in their first three years of full-time teaching.  Click here for more information and to register.

We hope to see all you NFTE new faculty members there!

About Robert Krout

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3 Responses to Embracing the 4th “R” in the Classroom – Rubrics Rule for a Reason

  1. Robert Krout says:

    Great comments regarding rubrics and the various ways in which we consider and use them. I am looking forward to Monday’s rubrics workshop to explore these issues in more depth.

  2. Tom Mayo says:

    I hope to attend the rubric workshop on 11/11. After I’ve read about rubrics, I am still unsure what they look like (and whether that is actually a multiple-choice question) and how they might apply to law school assignments. I agree with Meghan that a rubric for exam-grading is useful (I’d say indispensable), if she means a grading chart or grid in which I’ve identified the major points I am looking for and their relative importance (in terms of points) . I start grading with one of these, and then I use the first 10 or so randomly selected exams to help me edit the rubric, often adding items and points that hadn’t occurred to me when I was writing the question.

  3. Meghan Ryan says:

    I’ve found rubrics to be very useful–especially when grading student essay exams. They help me to be more objective in my grading. When providing students with rubrics for assignments, though, I struggle with how detailed these rubrics should be. I think this is an instance in which too much detail can sometimes be harmful rather than helpful.

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