7 tips when working with rubrics

17-11-2023 | Hans van Vlaanderen
TIP 1 Use it as an assessment or feedback tool

“A rubric can be used to make clear exactly what you are assessing student performance on. Students see in a rubric exactly what is expected of them and what goals they can achieve. It is also a useful tool with which you can give feedback to students, or students can give feedback to each other.”

TIP 2 Rattle a skill apart

“If you want to put a skill into a rubric, you first think about what criteria or behavioral indicators a skill is made up of. For example, one of the criteria of ‘working together’ is ‘listening.’ Then you describe the behavior associated with being able to listen well in constructive stages. This creates a matrix where vertically there are the behavioral indicators and horizontally there are the developmental stages.”

TIP 3 Use existing rubrics

“Many rubrics have already been developed. Think about 21st-century skills or LOB skills. Make use of them! But even if you think a skill does not have a rubric yet, you can often use existing rubrics. A skill such as ‘entrepreneurship’ consists of criteria such as ‘taking the initiative’, ‘setting goals’ and ‘reflecting on what you have undertaken’. These are criteria that can also be found in the rubrics for ‘critical thinking’ and ‘self-regulation’, for example. Look carefully at other skills to avoid reinventing the wheel. Or google ‘rubrics’ and ‘formative assessment’. You’ll be amazed at how many English-language rubrics you’ll find! If the steps in a rubric are too big for your students, you can also pick out a criterion, break it down into sub-criteria and divide it into stages. That way you have developed a new rubric based on an existing one!”

TIP 4 Formulate behavior positively

“When you describe the behavior at a stage in a rubric, do so positively and describe what a student can already do at this stage. That way every student gets a good feeling when he makes a step. So not, ‘I can’t listen well yet,’ but, for example, ‘I listen when I’m interested in a topic.'”

TIP 5 Use a rubric formative

“I sometimes see schools using rubrics primarily in determining a final assessment of student performance, but that’s a shame. After all, it’s a great formative tool for students to show their growth. For example, work with your student to see what the next step is for the “keeping appointments” criterion in the collaborative skill. If a student often needs to be reminded of appointments, you can start a conversation with him or her about how he can keep appointments and thus grow in this skill.”

TIP 6 Make choices for tracking skills

“Working with rubrics takes time. Therefore, make choices and focus on one or two skills in a period or on a particular assignment. Make sure students can actually practice those skills. Time can also be saved by combining skills; communication and cooperation, for example, lend themselves well to this. And above all: see which skill in a period or situation suits your students.”

TIP 7 Involve your students in working with rubrics

“Devise with your students the criteria associated with a skill, or involve your students in describing the behaviors associated with a stage. This way it comes more alive for students and students better understand the steps they need to take to grow in skills. Describe behaviors as concretely as possible and avoid cries like “a little more” and “even more. An existing rubric can be a tool to develop one yourself with students.”