Science Units for Grades 9-12

By Deborah Aufdenspring; Ian C. Binns et al. | Go to book overview

chapter 5
Constructing a Rubric
WALTER McKENZIEAs constructivist instructional practices have become part of the mainstream in education, assessment rubrics have gained in popularity. Teachers no longer teach the curriculum or teach the text; they teach the child. Their role is not to disseminate information but to support learners in building understandings. The rubric is an excellent tool for assessing student progress in this type of educational environment. It frees teachers from the limitations of traditional pencil and paper assessments and places the focus on student performance.It sounds wonderful, but how does a teacher go about creating a rubric that will successfully measure student learning? There is a deliberate set of steps in designing an original rubric:
State the lesson objective.
Design an assessment task that allows the student to demonstrate his or her success in mastering the objective.
Develop a set of observable, measurable criteria that can be used to evaluate the assessment task.
Identify levels or degrees of success for the criteria.
Craft statements that describe each level of success for each criterion.

Let's take a closer look at each step of the process.


State
the Lesson
Objective

As in any effective lesson, the instructional objective must be stated up front. It is the foundation on which the entire lesson is built, including the assessment. The objective should be stated in concrete terms, clearly identifying the task the learner will be asked to accomplish. Teachers are trained in the writing of objectives, and this becomes second nature as they gain experience in the classroom.

However, the challenge of the objective may not be in how it is stated, but in how it is crafted. If teachers simply state that given pencil and paper the student will complete an objective test on Greek and Roman forms of government with at least 70% accuracy, they will get exactly what they have asked for: rote recall of facts and figures to successfully fill in blanks. It's quick and it's easily measured, but does it really give an accurate idea of what students have learned? On the other hand, consider the ways students would demonstrate their understanding of early Western forms of government if the objective asked them to create a Venn diagram showing the similarities

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