The Pros and Cons of Using Rubrics
Choosing whether to use a rubric can be a difficult decision. Grading with a well-developed rubric could save you time, but if you decide on the wrong style of rubric you could end up with a headache. And not all rubrics are created equal; using a mediocre one--even if it is targeted at your project--might make the grading process more trouble than it's worth. Are you having a hard time deciding if a rubric is right for you? Read through this list of rubric pros and cons to help make your decision easier.
1.) Rubrics help categorize student work
With a rubric, you'll be grading student work against a benchmark for success. A good rubric describes different levels of success in meeting this benchmark and awards points accordingly. For example, if one of the elements of your rubric is timeliness, the student might get the maximum three points for an on-time paper, two points for a project that is less than three days late, one point for a project that is three to five days late and no points for anything more than one week late. Since point values are predetermined, you shouldn't have a problem putting work into appropriate categories and adding total points for a grade.
2.) Rubrics can be blind
A huge advantage of rubrics is their ability to record grades objectively. With a rubric, you don't have to know the student's name and personal information to grade. Theoretically, you could grade all projects with just the typed text component and a rubric. Rubrics, therefore, keep grades objective. Everyone is scored the same because set scoring components are laid out from the start.
3.) Rubrics save you time
Once you develop a good rubric, using it is a cinch. All you have to do is go through the project looking for the components included on your rubric. Grade these elements according to the point and quality scale set down on your rubric. This process should save you lots of time because you won't have to read every sentence for correctness; you'll only focus on those areas which are most important.
1.) They don't always take outside circumstances into account
If you have a student who tries hard but has learning problems, a rubric may not be the best tool for you. Rubrics only take into account the finished product. Unless you make a point to include credit for effort and time, then most rubrics won't count these elements. For most students, this doesn't matter. But if you have students with learning disabilities, you may want to consider scrapping the rubric tool or redeveloping it so it takes into account things like progress, effort and other outside circumstances.
2.) Can be too analytical for artistic projects
Most teachers find that a rubric can be tailored for any kind of student project, but artistic work is the hardest to grade with a rubric. There are so many intangible factors in an art project--creativity, inspiration, personal history--that grading with a rubric can seem impossible. You would almost certainly be forced to make assumptions about student work, and this could lead to disputes about grades. Don't force a rubric onto an art project; if you can develop one that works, great, but don't turn art into an analytical field--you won't get the best results.
Hopefully, these pros and cons will help you decide if a rubric is right for your next project. There are an infinite number of variations in rubrics, so if you decide to you one you'll have a number of options from which to choose.
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