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A few weeks ago, one of my posts, The Frustrating Thing About Grading Comments, focused on commenting on students assignments from the students perspective and briefly on the teachers perspective. It’s in that post where we, as future educators and arguably students, learn how we wish to better collaborate and learn in the classroom. In other words, we set proper/obtainable expectations for each other and work together on reaching these expectations and setting new ones.

The face you get when your comments and guidelines make no sense. (Gif from Giphy.com)

As future educators, these expectations are called two things: learning objectives and assessments. The difference between the two? Learning objectives are semester long goals that are achieved by goals set in the assessment. Assessments are typically used to guide students through their assignments in order for students to learn and further develop.

On the University of Nebraska – Lincoln website, they suggest that we, as educators, do not overwhelm our students with feedback. This connects back to my post that focuses on grading because giving too much feedback “can leave students feeling daunted and uncertain where in terms of revision.” Therefore, when we are making these connections in student papers, it’s important to make sure that we point out what’s most important to improve in students work. This is possible thanks to one important assessment tool — the rubric.

The Rubric

According to Jennifer Gonzalez’s blog, there are three different types of rubrics: Holistic, analytical, and single point (which will be explained in a little more detail in our next section). These three types of rubrics set expectations for both teacher and students to focus on with specific assignments in mind. For example, if the student is doing an oral and visual presentation, the rubric focuses on those elements of the presentation (with some additional criteria implemented by the professor). These rubrics are essentially pre-discussed agreements between the teacher and each students. Ina  more simple way of explaining it, the rubric is already established and shared with students before the assignment. Therefore, allowing students to think about the assignment weeks, sometimes months, before completing it. So, what’s the difference between the three rubric styles?

Analytic Vs. Holistic vs. Single-point

One reading from this week focused on whether to create an analytic and holistic rubric style. This article detailed that the Analytical approach “list[ed] the criteria for an assignment and describe these criteria in varying levels of quality.” Therefore allowing students to be graded/assessed at their own particular level of performance when it comes to the assignment or presentation. However, with the structure of the rubric, because the feedback is not completely targeted, students will just look at the sheet for their grade and then disregard the feedback already provided.

Image from quickrubric.com: Side by Side view of analytical Vs. Holistic rubric grading style

On the other hand, you have the Holistic approach which allows student’s assignments to be graded as a whole and not sections (quickrubric.com). The problem that Gonzalez points out is that the feedback is not detailed or targeted for each student. Therefore, improvement is only made in smaller increments than a rubric style that allowed for more involved and specific feedback. Students are then placed in a predicament to either guess what they did incorrectly or ask the professor (who may be busy with other assigned tasks).

Improving a Grade (Image from giphy.com)

As for the single point rubric, this style of rubric “breaks down the components of an assignment into different criteria,” which is similar to the analytic rubric; however, the analytic rubric “only describes the criteria for proficiency; it does not attempt to list all the ways a student could fall short, nor does it specify how a student could exceed expectations” (Jennifer Gonzalez). Therefore, making the single-point rubric more flexible when feedback and suggestions for improvement is concerned.

Therefore, leading my counter parts and I to examine a few important questions before entering the classroom:

  1. what style fits best for what we plan to do in our classrooms?
  2. What style will work best for our students to help provide a productive learning space?
  3. How do we explore these spaces, on our own, before jumping into the classroom and theoretically struggling to help improve the writing of potentially 25 college students (some being college students for the first time)?

Potential Solution to Help Build a Rubric?

Brady Krien, author of “Tips for Teaching and Assessing Writing,” purposes a few solutions for first time educators. Krien encourages teachers to “prioritize feedback.” Focus on what’s most important as opposed to the minor errors (grammar, typos, misspellings). Prioritizing feedback saves time when it comes to grading assignments. Second, Krien suggests that teachers, use resources for those minor errors that are located in assignments. So, if we see comma splices, send the student information and links on how to correct those errors and improve their grammar skills. Third, and this one is my favorite, Krien encourages the use of examples to help students understand and connect better with assignment requirements. This one is my favorite because too many times have I been given vague assignment guidelines and requirements that made me scratch my head for several hours because I was unsure of how to complete the assignment. It’s almost the way students feel having creative freedom after years of being told what to write, how to write, and what the structure is supposed to be.

Lisa Simpson. (Gif from Giphy.com)

These three solutions are not the only solutions provided by Krein, however, I feel they’re pretty important to start with because it’s something I’ve encountered in my shadowing class. With keeping in mind what we won’t focus on or what we plan to focus on, we can create valuable rubrics that help us and our students meet the requirements better to focus on improving their writing.

As future professors, I hope we have the ability to explore and get comfortable these styles and ideas in order to better assess students work when it’s our time to enter into the classroom.


Resources

  1. “Assessing Student Writing.” Assessing Student Writing | Writing Center | Nebraska, www.unl.edu/writing/assessing-student-writing.
  2. Clever Prototypes, LLC. Tips for Writing a Strong Rubric – Rubric Examples Included! www.quickrubric.com/about/tips-to-writing-a-strong-rubric.
  3. Gonzalez, Jennifer. “Know Your Terms: Holistic, Analytic, and Single-Point Rubrics.” Cult of Pedagogy, 1 May 2014, www.cultofpedagogy.com/holistic-analytic-single-point-rubrics/.
  4. Krien, Brady. “Tips for Teaching and Assessing Writing: Inside Higher Ed.” GradHacker, 21 Jan. 2018, www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/tips-teaching-and-assessing-writing.
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