Monday, October 17, 2011

To Rubric or Not to Rubric: That is the Question... Right??

Image by Gracieli Lisboa
My Digital Media Production and Storytelling class has been discussing rubrics for assessing digital stories. This got me thinking about the utility of rubrics as an educational practice. On the one hand, it takes the guesswork out of a project because all the students know exactly what is expected of them and the elements that they need to take into consideration in their projects. I do believe that teachers should communicate clear expectations to their students. Rubrics can also help provide direction, especially to those students that have trouble knowing where to start. But on the other hand, I remember being that student that clung unswervingly to rubrics making sure  I created exactly what my teacher "wanted." That killed my creativity and took the joy out of learning because my projects didn't mean anything to me. I've also worked with other students who cling to rubrics  and I think projects and assignments are no longer a journey of discovery and learning but a single focus on a finished product. This is what I am wrestling with: Do rubrics teach students to "play school" or can they aid  them in creating quality work? If there is a middle ground, what does it look like?

Thoughts, ideas and suggestions are welcome!


  1. I am one of those students who likes clear definitions. Just tell me want you want, and I will be happy. It makes for a good relationship if there are clear understandings. Creativity can be found in how someone puts their own little flavor something. However, it is interesting to see what kind of unpredictable things happen when you release someone, kind of like a dog at a dog park. It can definitely help the teacher grow.

  2. For intensive purposes, I think rubrics should be taken out of the creative process. Restrictions and standards are used as guidelines to focus the student's wide choice of topics. When we did our DST, the group was cooperative enough to elaborate and experiment. Somehow, the outcome did not appear the same. The other groups came up with different perspectives of the restrictions.

  3. I am
    very much on the side of trying to give fewer instructions. I find that students look at a rubric and look it as a roadmap to an 'A' and even when they turn in poor quality work, they will argue that they hit all of the rubric points. Short of adding an enormous number of categories for simple things like spelling and grammar, I have great difficulty getting more than the least they can give, when I use rubrics.

    I do feel that they are very useful for first-time projects where students need to concentrate on the task at hand, so that a rubric of content helps alleviate those concerns, and allows then to concentrate on the new material. For example, when I give a video project and I want them to thin more about jazzing it up, it helps if they no exactly what they ned for content.