Experimenting with Rubrics

In an effort to streamline grading, I am experimenting with some different configurations of rubrics, and using Excel to make my life easier.  I should mention that while my blog posts are usually meant for a general audience, this one is a bit specific to New Tech schools, because it speaks directly to providing grades for Learning Outcomes.   If you aren’t at a NT school, this still might have utility, if you think about different categories for grades, or you provide grades for “21st Century” Skills.

We have been using 3-column rubrics for most of our project assessment, but I’ve noticed that certain activities or projects don’t lend themselves to that kind of rubric as well as others.  Sometimes, more of a checklist seems to suit the work that I am calling for.  I found this to be the case as I prepared to assess Seniors’ presentations mid-way through their senior projects.   I wanted to be rather simple in my expectations, and came up with a pretty simple list, so that I could rate student performance according to how well they achieved the description.  I had in mind a sort of matrix like below (with the actual descriptors I used), where I could check off the boxes on the right.   You might note that I only have 4 ratings, with no rating in the middle – I prefer this, because it makes me commit to rating a performance as either positive or negative.

Descriptor Yes More Yes than No More No than Yes No
Slides are carefully crafted  x
Opening is attention-getting and interesting  x
Presentation clearly identifies learning  x
Presentation clearly identifies progress  x
Volume is adequate and tone is professional  x
Describes project clearly  x
Progress is adequate for a semester of work (including research paper)  x

So then my question was this: how can I create this in Excel, so that all I have to do is click on stuff, and it automatically scores?  I didn’t want to point-click-type, point-click-type, ad infinitum.  Out of this fundamental laziness emerged, after several iterations, something very interesting.  The best way to understand is to watch the little (5 min) video that explains what I set up.  

Link to Video explanation

I have already used this, and shared it with my teaching partner for our Capstone class.  Her words: “As soon as I was done observing the presentation, I could immediately populate echo with grades.  This could revolutionize the way we grade.”   During presentations, we have students also use the same tool, and assess other students.  From the first student assessor: “That rubric is awesome.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a student refer to a rubric as awesome.

Go here to download the Excel File. If you think of, or make any improvements, please share!  I would love to hear what you think about it in the comments below.


One thought on “Experimenting with Rubrics

  1. This is a game-changer, Kevin. I’m going to try using this and then I’ve got some ideas for building on it. If the outcome is interesting, I’ll blog it and share the post with you here. Thanks for sharing!


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