How to Create an Outline for a Rubric
There are a lot of factors that go into grading a student's project, and it can feel impossible to capture all of them in a rubric. If you feel lost when putting together a rubric, consider using an outline to provide a structured plan for your document. Outlines allow you to organize your thoughts before you begin writing your rubric, so you can be sure you include everything necessary for determining a student's grade. With only a little extra work, you'll have a more powerful assessment tool.
Outlining a rubric is just like creating an outline for an essay; you make a few main bullet points and fill these in with sub points and supporting details. If you're creating a rubric for a writing project, choosing bullet points should be fairly straightforward--introduction, body and conclusion are three main rubric points that should almost always be included.
For less structured projects, the main points on rubrics should mirror you main objectives. Write a sentence of two describing what you hope students will get out of your project. Then, look over your description and choose two or three key words or phrases that summarize your learning goals. Words and phrases like creativity, historical accuracy, speaking ability, research, innovation, grammar, technique and translation are common assessment terms that would make good main points on your rubric.
Once you've decided what the main bullet points of your rubric will be, filling in subsections should be relatively easy. Think about what each student would need to do to meet the goal of your main point. For example, if you are creating a rubric for a history project and one of your main bullet points is "historical accuracy," you might want subsections like "research," "interpretation of facts" and "consistency." Keep in mind all of the subsections should relate to the main bullet point that they fall under; if you have an idea for a subsection but can't fit it under a main point, either make it another bullet point or leave it out.
After you've identified main points and sub points on your rubric outline, the next task is to write short descriptions about the details of each sub point. Let's use the history project example again. Say you're working with the subsection "research" under the "historical accuracy" main bullet point. For your descriptions, try to write a sentence about what you mean by research as it pertains to historical accuracy. For example: "Student found and cited at least three reputable sources" would be one good summary sentence of a requirement for research. Each subsection should be given at least one descriptive sentence to clarify exactly what you're looking for.
Now that you have a completed outline for a rubric, you can translate this outline into rubric form. Each main point can be a section on your rubric. Assign a scoring value to each section, keeping in mind that it's easiest to work out of 100 points. Use your subsections to clarify what you're looking for in each part; you could break down point values for each section among your different subsections. Finally, use your short descriptions as a way of making sure your students understand the assignment. You can either keep each description linked to a subtopic or write one full paragraph at the top of each main point. Either way, these descriptions will help get the project guidelines across to your students.
After a while, rubrics will come to you naturally and you won't need an outline. But to start, taking the time to make a detailed outline can help ensure you make an accurate, thorough grading tool. Try using an outline with your next rubric and see if it helps your thought process. It can't hurt to try and it could give you a better rubric than ever before.
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