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Rubrics:  An essential tool for teaching online effectively

Rubrics: An essential tool for teaching online effectively

by Sharon Jumper, JD
September 04, 2015

Rubrics are an essential tool for teaching online effectively. Rubrics explain the criteria for how assessments will be evaluated and they help to ensure uniformity in grading. Best practices for teaching online effectively include the use of rubrics because they prevent misunderstandings with students about how their work is evaluated, streamline the grading process and make it more uniform, and make it easier for administrators to collect data on achievement of learning outcomes across multiple sections of the same course.

There are three elements to any rubric: a list of criteria that will be evaluated, a delineation of quality standards (eg., Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, Needs Improvement), and calculation of points for each criterion’s corresponding level of quality. Making rubrics available to students along with the syllabus or assignment instructions can help students meet expectations and serve to promote both formative and summative assessment strategies. Many Learning Management Systems (LMS) have tools for integrating clickable rubrics into the dropbox and/or gradebook for evaluation of student work. Faculty are able to teach online effectively, providing detailed and prompt feedback to students, through the use of these rubric tools.

There are many excellent websites that can help you to develop criteria and quality standards for a wide variety of assignments. Three of my favorite rubric development websites are:

Tutorials for integrating rubrics into various LMS are also available online and are easy to follow. Here are some examples:

Rubrics provide a win-win for students, faculty, and administrators. Students can be made aware of expectations prior to beginning work and they will better understand feedback and grade calculation after their work is evaluated and returned if it is accompanied by a rubric. Faculty can grade more quickly and uniformly by using clickable rubrics. Grade appeals are less frequent when rubrics are used – this makes operations run more smoothly for everyone. Administrators can also use rubric assessment data to measure student performance and faculty engagement.

What are some resources that you’ve found for creating rubrics? Let’s share and discuss them below.