This post is a collaboration between Dimity Wehr, Ann Wilson, Andrew Francois and Amara Atif.

Dimity and Ann (IML TACT team), Andrew (LX team) and Amara (FEIT) recently ran a workshop on rubrics for academic and professional staff in FEIT.

As the coordinating teacher for 41191 Business Intelligence in Autumn 2021, Amara has been focusing on creating rubrics for authentic assessment tasks. She is currently working with students to create a rubric for a blog post assessment titled Write a data storytelling blog post to explore Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices as examples of cultural information systems.

Amara discovered several things about rubric development and she wanted to share her experiences and pass on some rubric gems to her colleagues:

Rubrics are challenging to write. With my learning and experimentation with rubrics in the last few months, I guess I have reached a point that I can say that there is no recipe for designing an effective rubric. It is an iterative and recursive process and Canvas’s rubric tool makes using rubrics simple, easy, and fun.

Amara on rubrics

Well designed rubrics can be beneficial in developing assessment and feedback literacy in students, and provide opportunities for formative assessment. This type of feedback can be scaffolded to support student success in higher stakes summative assessments. Rubrics can also enable assessment and marking guidelines for teaching teams by providing a source of moderation.

Guidelines for creating rubrics

In the workshop, participants working in groups were challenged to create a rubric that assessed making a cup of tea. It highlighted to the participants how difficult it is to establish criteria and make value judgements using a blank slate, even for a simple task. 

From her own challenges with rubrics and some discussion that came out of the event, the following rubric writing guidelines have been created:

  • Review learning objectives of the assessment task with some thought. This will help determine the various skills and abilities that the assessment should evidence. These may later become the criteria expressed in the left hand column of the rubric grid. 
  • Make a decision about what type of rubric to use: Analytical or Holistic?
  • Start with your criteria and look at other rubrics. Is there one existing that is similar to what you require?
  • Break down the assessment task and scaffold to define the performance level bands. This is the most important step in writing an effective rubric and also a step that makes a rubric different to a marking guide. Start by thinking about what a credit grade would look like. 
  • Continue applying the rubric to all the tasks and evaluate its effectiveness and suitability by ensuring that the descriptive language from column to column is similar (not vague) and is student-friendly (appropriate and accessible to their learning level).
  • Get it reviewed by your teaching team members/a colleague. It’s always good to have a second pair of eyes on the rubric. Even better to create one together!
  • Involve your students and make changes using received feedback. Rubrics are time-consuming to construct and in FEIT, as in other faculties, it is often difficult to set aside time during the class to construct the rubric together with students. However, the rubric should be available to students when the assessment task is released to encourage engagement and feedback.
  • Use examples and have the students mark an example assessment against the rubric. Students can also give feedback on each others’ work using the rubric and undertake self-assessment, to predict their achievement before they submit the final version.

I encourage my students to provide feedback by communicating that the rubric will help them to reflect, understand, and unpack the assessment tasks/subtasks. It will also help them to view the marking process as fair as their grade for the assessment task will not depend on who has marked their assessment.


Rubric example

Want to see an example of effective rubric design? Take a look at Amara’s rubric for the blog post assessment [.docx, 29KB].

Resources for using rubrics

Once you have designed a rubric (the important part), you are ready to build it in one of the supported assessment tools at UTS.

If you’re using Canvas, take a look at Rubrics in Canvas on LX Resources to find out how to add your rubric. You can also find more information there about other tools you can use to implement rubrics. Contact the LX.lab if you need help to implement or adapt your rubric for use in any of these tools.

Rubrics will be part of the TACT Teams hot topic discussion around feedback and assessment later in 2021.

Feature image by Eamon Littler.

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