Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Makes a Bad Rubric?

Tierney and Simon (2004, ¶ 5) suggest that many rubrics are flawed due to a lack of consistency across the performance criteria descriptors. Performance criteria reflect the "dimensions of the performance or product that is being taught and assessed." These authors recommend that the performance criteria should remain consistent from level to level. Simply, the attributes listed in each criterion should be the same across all levels of quality. Another common mistake that causes a lack of consistency across the criteria is the use of excessively negative language to describe categories on the lower end of the quality continuum and excessively positive descriptors for the opposite end of the continuum.

  1. Avoid imprecise language.
  2. Avoid negative language.
  3. Establish valid categories.
  4. Match criteria to task requirements and goals/objectives.
  5. Use observable behaviors or product characteristics.
  6. Use clear language that students can understand.
  7. Difference between levels should be clear.

Tierney, R. & Simon, M. (2004). What's still wrong with rubrics: Focusing on the consistency of performance criteria across scale levels. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 9(2). Retrieved from 

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