How can we use rubrics to help students self-assess their performance?
As students engage in the learning process, performance assessments are one type of assessment that can be used formatively to guide students’ learning. According to Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, & Arter (2012), “A performance assessment has two parts: the task to be completed by the respondent and the criteria for judging quality of the response” (p. 204). Rubrics can serve as a tool to determine the quality of students’ responses. This allows both the teacher and student to assess students’ progress and areas for growth. In order to use rubrics effectively, students need to be aware of the criteria and use the rubric as a guide for completing quality work.
When creating rubrics, teachers need to be clear about what quality work looks like and provide samples of work at different levels on the rubric. Students should become familiar with the language on the rubric so teachers can provide descriptive feedback connected to various levels. When providing descriptive feedback and determining an instructional focus based on students’ needs, it’s valuable if the teacher focuses on one criterion at a time. Similar to planning a lesson that focuses on one learning target, students also need to focus on one criterion when revising their work. Chappuis et al. (2012) states, “Students who are not yet proficient at creating a complex performance or product have a difficult time improving simultaneously on all elements of quality” (p. 247).
This has implications for my teaching practice in the area of writing. My initial teaching of the writing process is broken into manageable steps. We begin with a brainstorm or pre-write. I then gradually move to instruction on using the pre-write to create a rough draft. We take it step-by-step through the introduction, body, and conclusion. Students are given a rubric 3rd grade Rubric that describes criteria they will be assessed on including: organization, content, style/fluency, conventions/spelling. The symbols used to score students’ writing match the symbols used on the students’ report cards. So instead of receiving points for each criterion, students are scored using grading symbols (E-exception, P- Proficient, SN- Support Needed, AC- Area of Concern). Within each criterion, there are multiple lessons that need to be taught to improve students’ writing. For example, students may need instruction on writing transitions, using descriptive details, and sticking to a topic. If all of these lessons were taught in the initial drafting phase, it would be overwhelming to the student. Instead, we focus on creating an outline and learn how to draft our ideas into an introduction, body and conclusion. Then in the revising and editing phase, we focus on developing our writing so it includes descriptive details, sentences that start in different ways, an interesting beginning, correct punctuation, ect. This is where multiple examples could help students understand what each criterion on the rubric looks like.
My goal is to involve students in this part of the learning process through self-assessment, encouraging them to use the rubric along the way. When students look at the entire rubric to assess their work, I have noticed that they quickly score themselves as exceptional. I have also used a checklist to guide students’ revision and editing and I see students quickly check each box. This defeats the purpose of the rubric because it is not being used as a self-assessment tool to improve students’ work. Teaching students to self-assess is challenging, however I think it would be helpful if students revise their work focusing on one criterion at a time. Chappuis et al. (2012) states, “An activity that allows students to revise their initial work with a focus on a manageable number of aspects of quality, problems, or learning targets is a logical next step after teaching focused lessons” (p. 248). For example, my students could read their work with a focus on finding and adding descriptive details. This way their reflection is tied to a specific area and is meaningful. The image below is an example of a goal setting sheet my students could keep in their writing journals. Students could pick the writing goal they were working on and show evidence that they revised their work to meet their goal. When I meet with the student for a writing conference, I could then focus on this specific target when providing feedback. Students would be held accountable for showing evidence that they worked towards their goals. This tool could also be used when students assess each other’s work.
Chappuis, J., Stiggins, R., Chappuis, S., & Arter, J. (2012). Classroom
Assessment for Student Learning: Doing It Right-Using it Well
(2nd ed.). Pearson Education, Inc..