The Evolution of a Grading Rubric

When I first started teaching, I used a rubric similar to the ones that my own teachers had used. That can be found here. But as time went on, I became increasingly dissatisfied with it. I felt like I didn’t really know what I meant by “imagination” or “clarity of communication”. And if I didn’t know what I meant, how could students possibly know?!

After attending a few teaching workshops, I radically revised the rubric I was using. The revised version can be found here. I used this kind of rubric for a number of years, but again became dissatisfied, so tried a new layout and changed some of the criteria wording. The most recent version can be found here. In reviewing all three documents, one can see that each rubric became more specific about what I am looking for in a quarter-long project, and thus clearer about what is expected.

I post my rubrics on Blackboard at the start of each quarter and tell my students: “If you want to know how to get an A in this class, just read the grading rubric for each project to see what is expected.” Being more specific about my expectations has led to fewer after-hours discussions about grades, a definite plus!

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This entry was posted in Evaluating Student Work, Grading, grading individuals, Rubrics and tagged , , by Jane Alden Stevens. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jane Alden Stevens

Jane Alden Stevens is a photographer and educator who is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati. An active artist, Stevens has exhibited and published her work extensively both in the US and abroad. She is the author of “Tears of Stone: World War I Remembered” (2004). In the course of her teaching career, Stevens taught courses in film, photography, and professional practices for fine artists. Her interest in teaching practices was deepened when she started teaching the "Graduate Teaching Workshop", a required graduate level course for fine artists and art historians that prepares them to teach the courses they will later be assigned. She was also involved in the Preparing Future Faculty program at the University of Cincinnati, which prepares masters and doctoral students across all programs for teaching at the university level. She has conducted pedagogy workshops for a variety of universities, as well as participated in academic practicum panels at educational conferences. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Stevens was honored with the all-university Cohen Award for Excellence in University Teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2002 and Professor of the Year honors in her college in 2011.

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