Carteret Community College Title III Grant

June 27, 2011

The Common Rubric (for Gen Ed outcomes assessment)

Filed under: Outcomes Assessment,Rubrics — Donald Staub @ 7:55 am

In 2010-2011, we shifted our Gen Ed Assessment program from one that gathered data in a few, select courses to a broader, program-level approach.  In the past,  Gen Ed (a.k.a. ILLO – institutional level learning outcomes) data had been gathered via relevant courses that had the greatest number of students passing through them.  For instance, we collected assessment data for our Computer Literacy only is CIS 110.  Likewise, Written Communication in ENG 111, and so on.

Of course, this approach had flaws.  Quite often, these courses were taken by students who were early (not late) in their community college experience (which is counter-intuitive to the essence of ILLO assessment; i.e. measuring what students have learned in their time at the College).  In addition, it was not always a representative sample (e.g. not all programs required their students to take ACA 115 – testing ground for Personal Growth and Responsibility).

So, in 2010-2011, we shifted our approach to the program-level in order to address both of these shortcomings.  We began by determining that 10-11 would be a pilot year for this process, and asked programs to focus on assessing only Written Communication. One of the essential pieces of this process (or so we believe) was to develop a common rubric that would be used to score all written samples collected for this assessment.  Once the rubric was agreed upon, we spent the Fall semester (2010) conducting training sessions for readers in how to use it.  In the Spring (May, 2011), we had a scoring day and readers used the rubric to score papers in sets that they had been assigned.  Click here to view a more detailed look at the process.

Our Gen Ed Outcomes Assessment Committee decided that we would begin with the VALUE (valid assessment of learning in undergraduate education) rubrics that had been developed under AACU’s LEAP project.  The Gen Ed committee felt that the Written Communication rubric needed tweaking for our own purposes, so it resulted in this rendition that we have used locally:

click on image to download our rubric

Discussion: Did it work?  Did we improve on the VALUE written communication rubric?  Was it a flawless process?

Theoretically, the rubric should work for just about any written piece.  And, for the most part, it did.  Where it got a little tricky was in how we divvied up the readings.  We tried to ensure that readers were scoring similar sets of papers.  This team read Radiography and Respiratory Therapy papers, where that team read Boat Manufacturing and Cosmetology papers.  However, this did not always work out swimmingly.  So, in some instances, readers were scoring papers from programs that required more academic/rigorous writing skills (e.g. Paralegal) alongside papers from a program such as Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET).  A paper from Paralegal may warrant a 4 (out of 4) for Content, and so might a paper from BLET.  However, in the reader’s mind, these are still two distinct displays of writing ability.  Our proposed solution is, next time we use a common rubric, to have readers only score papers from one program.


March 3, 2010

Creating Effective Rubrics

Filed under: Rubrics — Donald Staub @ 10:49 am

What is a rubric and why create one?

A rubric is an authentic assessment tool used to measure student’s work.”   To put it another way, a rubric is an instrument that allows both the instructor and student to close the gap of confusion between an assignment and the score assigned to that student’s work (work could be a written assignment or a performance, such as trouble-shooting a diesel engine or an activity such as a clinical experience).  Generally, rubrics are displayed in table form, with criteria on one axis, and points/quality on the other.  Here’s a simple, tasteful example:

Source: Waubonese Community College (click on rubric to access full doc)

The rationale for creating a rubric is that (a) it saves time (there is an investment of time up front, but it pays off in the long run), (b) it clarifies expectations; and, (c) it communicates expectations – i.e. how an instructor will assign a score (“Informed judgement lies between objectivity and subjectivity”).

To develop a rubric, I’m going to refer to the four simple steps outlined by Dannelle Stevens in her rubric-writing workshop at the recent Texas A&M Assessment Conference (click here for my notes on the whole conference…scroll down to Dannelle’s workshop).
  1. Reflecting: Start by brainstorming the descriptors of the concept/activity…what are your objectives for the assignment?
  2. Listing: Next, list all the characteristics/dimensions/criteria; brainstorm the list…culling comes in the next step.
  3. Grouping & Labeling: In this step, put descriptors/criteria in their relevant categories (e.g. see above – Texture, Color, Taste, etc..).  One suggestion that came from the audience: Start with a pile of papers group into good, mediocre, bad…work backwards and build rubric according to the qualities you (don’t) find in each group
  4. Application: The final step – on a grid, fill in highest then lowest, then middle
** Also, make sure that you have the assignment articulated on the rubric.  This increases clarity and lack of confusion.
Just a few of the many great resources for rubrics out there…often you’ll find that they are organized by subject area (e.g. class participation, critical thinking, health sciences, etc..) —

click on image to download ppt

February 21, 2010

Developing a Personal Growth & Responsibility rubric

Filed under: Presentations,Rubrics — Donald Staub @ 6:11 pm

At the Texas A&M Assessment Conference, in the Sunday afternoon workshop on developing rubrics (facilitated by Dannelle Stevens), our group worked on a rubric for Personal Growth & Responsibility.  We didn’t get to the actual rubric…we made it through the first three steps of the process (grouping & labeling), but ran out of time.  This is rough, but it gives us a starting point before we delve into identifying assessments.

Personal Growth & Responsibility


  • Show up
  • Show up on time
  • Show up ready

Knowledge of policies & procedures-

Essential skills –

  • Financial literacy
  • Policies and procedures
  • Soft skills
  • Team work

Responsible behavior-

  • Owning your own behavior
  • Understanding the consequences
  • Being able to prioritize
  • Time management
  • Knowing your limits
  • Self-analysis – knowing how to know your limitations

Personal Growth

  • professional development for students (one day that is dedicated to a particular topic; bring in speakers … esp those who have graduated from the school and broken the mold – students could write a paper or make a presentation)
  • faculty nominations of students who have risen above
  • recognition for things other than simply academics (honor rolls, student gov’t, club participation)
  • other?

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