72 Performance Assessment and Rubrics Pros-Cons


The Pros and Cons of Using Rubrics




Megan Varnell





Learning Targets:

→ The reader should be able to define the term “rubric” in relation to education

→The reader should be able to identify the different types of rubrics

→ The reader should be able to identify several pros and cons associated with using rubrics









Wouldn’t it be great if a student could look inside their teacher’s head and see exactly what is expected of them in order to get an A+ on a particular assignment or project? Students actually can come quite close to doing this, all thanks to rubrics! Many parents and students have probably heard the term “rubric” before without really knowing what it meant. In this article, not only will this term be defined, but also the pros and cons associated with rubrics will be laid out.





What is a Rubric?


If out of curiosity someone were to look up “rubic” in a source such as wikipedia, they would find that rubric comes from the Latin word rubrica, which means red ochre or red chalk, and also that it has something to do with Medieval illuminated manuscripts. But if one was wondering what is a rubric in today’s sense of the word and in relation to education, then that probably is not going to be helping out much. According to Heidi Goodrich, an expert on the subject, a rubric is “a scoring tool that lists the criteria for a piece of work or ‘what counts.’ ” (What is a Rubric?, 2008) Essentially, a rubric is a checklist that the student can use to make sure they are accomplishing what is expected of them, as well as help teachers grade much more efficiently. Rubrics are typically used as a scoring tool for constructed response items, as well as performance-based tasks. (Scoring Rubrics, 2006) Rubrics can be categorized as holistic or analytic and generic or task-specific, and some even combine aspects from more than one. Holistic rubrics judge the student work as a whole and are less specific. Teachers find these much quicker and easier, but they give less feedback. Analytic rubrics look much closer at specific parts of the students work and are more precise. (Kidd, J. 2008) These rubrics are very helpful to students because they give very specific feedback, but are more time consuming for teachers to produce. Generic rubrics are rubrics that can be applied to a variety of assignments, as long as they fall under the same objective or objectives. (Scoring Rubrics, 2006). They can be very helpful in observing student progress over time and with formative assessment. Task- specific rubrics are designated to certain tasks and have more specific criteria that is to be met by the student. This type of rubric is best with specific knowledge or skill targets that are not going to be assessed regularly. (Kidd, J. 2008)





The Pros of Using Rubrics



Advantages of Rubric•Helps the grading process become more efficient

•Helps faculty grade/score more accurately, fairly and reliably

•Requires faculty to set and define more precisely the criteria used in the grading process

•Supports uniform and standardized grading processes among different faculty members

•Clarifies quality expectations to students about their assignments

•Students are able to self-assess their own work prior to submitting it

•Students can understand better the rationale and the reason for grades

•Helps communicating grade between faculty and students

•Helps improve student performance, because they know what to focus on

(Advantages and Disadvantages of Rubrics, 2005).

Using rubrics have many advantages. Many experts believe that student work is much better when a rubric is made available to them. Students know what is expected of them before hand, so it is easier for them to meet the objectives. Rubrics are also beneficial for teachers. They can make grading much quicker and also much more fair. Teachers can also use a rubric they create on several assignment. A teacher can also refer a student back to the rubric if they are not satisfied with a particular grade so the student can under why that grade was given to them.









The Cons of Using Rubrics



Possible Disadvantages of Rubrics•Development of rubrics can be complex and time-consuming

•Using the correct language to express performance expectation can be difficult

•Defining the correct set of criteria to define performance can be complex

•Rubrics might need to be continuously revised before it can actually be usable in an easy fashion

(Advantages and Disadvantages of Rubrics, 2005).

Rubrics also come with some disadvantages. Rubrics can be very time consuming to create and time is not something that most teachers have an excess of. It also can be difficult for teachers to come up with the appropriate language for the rubric so that the expectations are very clear. Sometimes, rubrics require much revision in order to use them easily.










In conclusion, rubrics come in many forms and can help both teachers and students greatly. For teachers, rubrics can speed up the grading process as well as give them the opportunity to show students what they are expecting of them. For students, rubrics can help clarify what they must achieve in order to get a good grade. Creating rubrics can sometimes be difficult and time consuming, but overall, teachers and students both benefit greatly from them.











1) The word rubric comes from the Latin word rubrica, which means what?

a. checklist

b. manuscript

c. red ochre

d. teacher-made
2) Which is NOT a type of rubric?

a. analytic

b. generic

c. holistic

d. illuminated
3) Why might Mr. Davis chose to use a analytic rubric for his students’ oral presentations?
a. Because he wants to judge the presentation as a whole.

b. Because he wants to use a rubric that he can create quickly.

c. To give the students specific feedback.

d. To grade the presentations quickly.


4) Why might Mrs. Nicks use generic rubrics for her science labs?
a. Because she wants to compare the student’s progress over time.

b. Because she wants students grade to be based on all components parts.

c. Because she likes to make completely new rubrics for each assignment.

d. Because she wants students to receive specific feedback.








Advantages and Disadvantages of Rubrics. (2005). Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://demo.4vqzl21.remote.schoolcenter.com/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=5128&PHPSESSID=b2fa70324ba350fc

Kidd, J. (2008). L7 performance assessment. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from https://www.blackboard.odu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab=courses&url=/bin/common/course.pl?course_id=_144868_1

Rubric. (2009). Retrieved March 20, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubric

Scoring Rubrics. (2006). Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://mfaa.msde.state.md.us/source/MDFAdeveloping_2a_3b.asp

The Advantages of Rubrics. (2009). Retrieved March 20, 2009, from http://www.teachervision.fen.com/teaching-methods-and-management/rubrics/4522.html

What is a Rubric? (2008). In Rubistar/4 Teachers. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php?screen=WhatIs&module=Rubistar





1) c

2) d

3) c

4) a




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