Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do Numbers Have a Place on a Rubric?

This past week, I've been critically examining rubrics from a variety of schools. This task encouraged me to review the latest research on feedback. The newly released second edition of Classroom Instruction that Works shows that the effect size for providing feedback has increased quite a bit (from .61 in the first edition to .76 in the new edition).

Consider the following quote from the text:
"The studies to feedback underscore the importance of providing feedback that is instructive, timely, referenced to the actual task, and focuses on what is correct and what to do next."

If the goal of a rubric is to provide feedback, should a rubric result in a numerical grade? I don't think so.

Providing students with an number moves the feedback from qualitative to quantitative. It takes the focus away from the specific information the learner needs to improve and moves it towards a single, messy evaluation. While I realize that many of us operate in systems that require formal grades and evaluations, it is important for teachers to realize confusing feedback and evaluation significantly impacts student learning.>br>
One teacher I know provides rubric descriptors and narrative feedback to students. Students only get their numerical scores if they come to her and ask her. After a while, the students just stopped asking. Hmmmm.....

What do you think? Should rubrics have numerical scores attached to them?

CC Photo Credit: Zedworks


  1. I believe that it is important to first evaluate the purpose of the rubric and the task. If the purpose is to only offer guidance and feedback then grading is not important. However, if the rubric is meant to offer feedback on a final product and the students grade YES. The biggest issue is that most rubrics are not scored correctly. The % are off.

    1. Hmmm... I do agree that the purpose and task of the rubric are both important. I just think that significantly greater learning occurs when we "check in," not evaluate. I realize that grades are a reality in most systems though.



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