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Setting Clear Expectations

In two September 2018 tips titled Using BB Rubrics to Provide Feedback to Students and Setting Clear Expectations with Rubrics, a variety of benefits were provided regarding the use of rubrics. This week, we’ll focus more closely on the various ways a rubric can be presented.

Varying Levels of Proficiency

The most common way a rubric is constructed is with several columns that show varying levels of proficiency. The student is given the opportunity to see where their level of understanding, commitment, and quality of the final product, places them within the grading scheme. A few examples of types of proficiency combinations are:

  • Novice, Competent, Mastery
  • Beginning, Developing, Accomplished, Exemplary
  • Below Standard, Approaching Standard, Meeting Standard

Use of words that give the student an “I can improve” state of mind versus an “I’m destined to fail” feeling, are key. Hence the terms “Novice,” “Beginner,” or if this is an Ornithology course, “Fledgling,” to build a desire within the student to grow in their education.

Single Level of Proficiency

Known as a Single-Point Mastery Rubric, this design identifies one level of proficiency and provides space for the instructor to identify what the student did well and what they can improve on. A few examples of the column titles in a single-point rubric are:

  • The Student Learning Outcomes (SLO), Strong Aspects of Students Work, How Student Can Strengthen Their Work
  • Areas for Growth, Expectation(s), Strengths
  • Glow (What they did well), SLO, Growth (What they can improve)

Whether you are providing a ladder towards the goal or simply setting the bar, as long as there are tools and guidance in place for the students’ overall success, either rubric design will help them strive towards your expectations.

Providing Context

It is important to avoid assuming that students understand our intentions behind providing them a rubric and how to interpret and use it. Framing language, definitions of words used, and an introductory statement are all great additions to a well-rounded rubric design. For examples on how to provide documentation that sets the stage for students to get the most out of your rubric visit the Association of American Colleges & Universities Value Rubrics examples.

There are many simple ways to tweak the efficacy of your assignment rubrics. For support implementing any of the tips provided, join us in our On-Demand virtual space Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more rubric examples, please visit the Association of American Colleges & Universities Value Rubrics examples.

This series of videos and teaching tips is presented by Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). We invite you to join the conversation. Share your tips and ask questions through this blog. If you would like these posts to be sent directly to your email each week, subscribe to the listserv by emailing aoi.li@wsu.edu.

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact aoi.li@wsu.edu or request training on demand. You can also visit the Spark Faculty Innovation Studio in room 102 any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, during the academic year.