Building Better Rubrics for Student Feedback

The Illinois Civics Hub (ICH) at the Dupage Regional Office of Education resumed its webinar series aligned to the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) Roadmap Pedagogy Companion this week with a focus on building better rubrics for student feedback. This is the fourth in a series of webinars that began with a focus on inquiry design and then progressed to the theme of assessment with a session on creating performance assessments. 

Rubrics are important tools that provide, “a set of clear explanations or criteria used to help teachers and students focus on what is valued in a subject, topic, or activity.” (Russell, & Airasian, 2012) According to Beth Ratway, senior technical assistance consultant in state services at the American Institutes for Research, well-designed rubrics can:

  • Provide every student with timely, explicit feedback on their demonstration of learning. They learn what they are doing well and what they need to improve..
  • Facilitate peer to peer student feedback.
  • Allow both educators and students to track improvements in  subsequent performances/demonstrations
  • Enable educators to examine student data to identify which aspects of a learning outcome students are achieving and which they are not achieving at the level you expect. This allows educators to decide where to put more focus when this outcome is addressed again.

This vision of rubrics aligns with the EAD Pedagogy Companion, which explains:

EAD teachers are committed to excellence in civic learning for students across diverse backgrounds and honor this commitment by assessing teaching and learning through the use of formative assessments to improve learning for everyone in an EAD classroom. Students can also participate in the improvement of their own and others’ learning by reflecting on how they progress and what interests them, and by providing feedback to their teacher and peers. Both teachers and students should not only reflect on what individual students have learned but also on how their classroom and school is doing in providing equitable learning opportunities and outcomes. Communicating regularly with students and their families about assessment and improvement is also a way to affirm the commitments of EAD teachers to provide all students with excellent civic learning, opportunities to grow, and preparation for participation in American constitutional democracy. (p. 14)

Rubrics are important tools to provide regular and timely feedback for equitable learning opportunities. All high-quality rubrics have common attributes such as being well-defined criteria, which are context-specific, finite and exhaustive, ordered, and aligned to standards. However, as Jennifer Gonzalez shares in this Cult of Pedagogy blog post, there are different options for rubric design. The webinar explored the various rubric options and their appropriate contexts.

If you missed this week’s or any of the previous webinars, visit the ICH Webinar Archives to design your own #PoolsidePD.

Next week, the ICH Hub will explore Making Thinking Visible for formative assessment. Educators who register can join live to interact with participants or watch a recording. All of our #CivicsIntheMiddle webinars are free, and Illinois educators can elect to earn PD credits for attending the webinar and completing a brief, post-webinar application activity.

A description for each webinar and information to register for professional development credits through the DuPage Regional Office of Education is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development Calendar.