Grading Rubrics

Due to all the recent grading I’ve had to do for posting midterm grades I’ve come to dislike grading rubrics. They seem to serve a good purpose, but also have severe limitations. Some advantages are fairly obvious, for instance they:

  1. Provide clear expectations of what is expected of the students.
  2. Standardize grading practices across different teachers/teaching assistants that maybe evaluating different sections of the same course
  3. Make it easy to communicate student performance.
  4. Decrease ambiguity in grading practices.

I feel like these advantages are mostly from an educators perspective. Rubrics allow for standardized grading procedures, which are simple to follow both for the student and the teacher, but give minimal feedback in the amount of time available. Rubrics cheat the student of the detailed feedback that they deserve. Here are some limitations of using grading rubrics:

  1. Rubrics are typically designed to measure things that are easy to quantify and thereby maybe inherently biased.
  2. Makes students turn in work by following rules. I have often found several inferior assignments that touched everything on the rubric and received a decent grade and several other good assignments that were thought provoking and showed me the ability of the student to think outside the box, but received a poorer grade because the work did not adhere to the rubric or presented guidelines.
  3. It often leaves less room for the teacher to be an authentic evaluator of the student’s work.
  4. While it decreases the time needed to assess the student’s work, it doesn’t allow much room for authentic communication – such as providing extensive feedback consisting of questions and follow up comments.
  5. Overall rubrics/points do not seem to represent student learning/progress or competence of the student in the subject matter.

Do you use rubrics for your grading? What has been your experience with them? What other alternates are out there?

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