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A rubric is a coherent set of criteria for students' work that includes descriptions of levels of performance quality on the criteria. Unfortunately, this definition of rubric is rarely demonstrated in practice.The Internet, for example, offers many rubrics that do not, in fact, describe performance.I think I know why that might be and will explain that in Chapter 2, but for now let's start with the positive.
For other performances, you observe the product that is the result of the student's work, like a finished bookshelf or a written report.Instead of judging the performance, the rubric describes the performance.The resulting judgment of quality based on a rubric therefore also contains within it a description of performance that can be used for feedback and teaching.Notice that the performances themselves are not learning outcomes. Except in unusual cases, any one performance is just a sample of all the possible performances that would indicate an intended learning outcome.Chapters 2 and 3 cover this point in greater detail.Thus rubrics are as good or bad as the criteria selected and the descriptions of the levels of performance under each.Effective rubrics have appropriate criteria and well-written descriptions of performance.Like any other evaluation tool, rubrics are useful for certain purposes and not for others.The main purpose of rubrics is to assess performances.This is different from a judgment of quality from a score or a grade arrived at without a rubric.Judgments without descriptions stop the action in a classroom.