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Ideas for assessing students who went on trip

Becoming involved in the educational process and assessment, participating in the learning process, and explaining what has been learned are ACTIVE learning skills. This is where a good rubric can be helpful. Students will benefit by being informed of what criteria will be used to grade their participation in such a trip. Since this past summer's trip was the first time such an expedition was held, there was no standardized mechanism in place to evaluate and assess each student's performance--they were simply told that they should create some type of educational resource based on their experiences during the trip. The faculty members involved felt that valuable information regarding how to meaningfully grade students' efforts would emerge and could be used the next time this type of course is offered.

The students who participated this year felt that since they were expected to create a learning tool after returning from the trip and outside of any regularly scheduled class time, they might benefit from evaluating themselves and each other according to the same rubric. By considering this final project, each student's self-evaluation and the evaluation from team members, the instructor should be able to get a fair assessment of the work, effort and level of participation achieved. For that reason, information about rubrics is included in this class.


Rubric expert Heidi Goodrich defines a rubric as a tool used in scoring student. It lists the criteria for a work or assignment. For example, a rubric for this class on Costa Rican culture might tell students that their work will be judged on purpose, organization, pariticipation, details, accuracy, creativity, and mechanics. A good rubric will also give levels for each criteria, from below acceptable standards to excellence. This is usually done on a point scale. For example, under mechanics, the rubric in this class might have defined the lowest level of performance as: 8 or more misspellings, 5 or more grammar errors, and 2 or more broken links. While the highest level might have been defined as: all words spelled correctly, no grammatical errors and all links working. It might also include references to the work written in third person with the proper use of both commas and semi-colons.

Rubrics give students enough detail to know exactly what amount of work will grant a certain grade. Well written rubrics leave very little room for misunderstandings. This allows both the student and the teacher to define what is expected of students and to define "quality." For a student who is frustrated because he cannot achieve an "A" score, the rubric can define those requirements exactly. Thus, the child, parent and teacher are all aware of exactly what it will take for the child to be "successful." A well made rubric will define "poor", "average", and "above average" work. Many rubrics show the standards for grades "A", "B" and "C" and do not define lower than a "C" grade, insinuating that nothing less than this level is acceptable.

Below are some rubrics found on the web and a short informal evaluation of each.

A Rubric for Evaluating WebQuests
This rubric sets the stage for evaluating websites. Scores are clearly defined and helps a developer or web surfer to define the developer's level of expertise only as displayed by that site. It is a good rubric for teaching those new to web development about evaluating websites so that they can avoid errors. It is an excellent example for self evaluation and for teachers.

Classroom Participation Rubric

This rubric is clear and defined. It uses words like never and often to clearly separate amounts of work or elements.

Integrating Technology Unit Rubric
This is an example of an very incomplete rubric showing that anything below excellent is just unsatisfactory. There are no levels of learning or excelling shown. This is a badly made rubric which allows too much interpretation on the part of the grader. On the other hand, it provides a very clear starting point for someone new to writing a rubric .

Director Project in Introduction to Technology Unit
This rubric outlines what technology and preparation should be included for a well made project. Each element (buttons, text, images, sound) and step is given a grade. It is a well defined rubric, but leaves spaces empty.

There are also several examples of rubrics and how they were employed in Authentic Assessment in Action, by Linda Darling-Hammond, Jacqueline Ancess and Beverly Falk.

| Introduction | Setting Standards | In-Class Discussions and Assignments | After-Class Assignments | References |