One Column Rubric

Teacher: Remember the rubric. If you annotate three sources you will get an A.
Student: I am good with a B. (Pulls out her phone)

An actual conversation I overheard.

Are rubrics backfiring?  A scoring tool that gives specific criteria for a particular grade should help students self assess before completing a project.  But instead, less motivated students use rubrics as a multiple choice option for how much effort they feel like putting in and what grade they need to receive to scrape by.  They can choose not to strive for the A, because well, they don't need an A, they just need to pass the class.   

Perhaps we need to rethink the rubric and just give students the highest expectations.  

I recently attended a discussion by Jeffery Heil who discussed the one column rubric and awarding badges according to effort and mastery.  Working in public education where the rubric is revered, I do not see badges becoming a grading technique, perhaps they could be used as a means to encourage students.  

I also do not think the rubric is going away, perhaps teachers should try just giving students the expectation for an assignment.  Just the "Exemplary/A/6.0" column of the rubric. One column rubric.  I know this is going a little "old school" but the current rubrics are not working to motivate students. 

After work is handed in, as a class, the students could determine what the rest of the rubric should look like.  Students would monitor their own effort, ability and learning and as a group come up with a rubric to reflect learning that did not meet the expected goal.  

Or, if students did not meet the exemplary standard column, they could be given a copy of the rubric with 3 blank columns for B, C, D work (F work would be obvious).  The teacher could ask the student to propose with rationalizations what those other standards should be, individualizing the grading that reflects student learning.

If the rubric is meant to assess student's learning, students should only be given the expectation so they have a bar they are trying to achieve.  

Let's rethink the rubric so we are creating a future that strives to jump over the bar, not grab the low hanging fruit.


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