In my search for finding alternatives to using coursebooks, I have experimented with project-based learning and have developed a PBL scheme in the school where I work.

We have been using PBL for 6 years already and one of the most difficult aspects to work on has been assessment. After a few trial-and-error takes on project assessment, I decided to stick with rubrics.

A rubric is a document that clearly states the expectations for an assignment, task or project by listing the criteria and levels of achievement or performance.

There are many types and styles of rubrics: from holistic to analytic, from general to specific. Most rubrics I have come across give equal weight to all the criteria included in the rubric, with 4 or 5 performance levels for each. These performance levels can be written as full descriptors for each or with generic descriptors for all, such as limited, developing, proficient, advanced, exemplary, or with numbers 1-5.

However, I think it is more effective to assign different levels of importance to the criteria so that, for example, language use is more important than deadline. To make this evident, from a total of 100 points, language use is scored out of 20 or 30 whereas deadline is scored out of 5 or 10. Thus, the perfect 100 points are divided into chunks of points for each criteria, where the most important ones carry more weight than the others. The rubric should be a transparent blueprint of the task or project to help students see and understand what aspects are essential and which are secondary.

Creating your own rubric requires you to make a list of aspects you want to evaluate and then list them in order of importance and assign its individual score.

I usually create two analytic rubrics for each project: a process one and a product one. This allows me to focus on formative assessment while the students are working on the project, and then on summative assessment of the final product.

Some criteria that I might include in process rubrics are:

  • Speaks English in class
  • Speaks fluently
  • Uses new vocabulary and structures
  • Uses dictionary effectively
  • Researches efficiently
  • Reorganises information in his own words
  • Solves problems creatively
  • Brings materials
  • Uses “….” tool effectively
  • Works in class
  • Participates actively
  • Collaborates with group

Some criteria that I might include in product rubrics are:

  • Written language use (vocabulary/grammar/register)
  • Oral language use (fluency/pronunciation)
  • Written/visual coherence
  • Presentation/Design/Format
  • Essay organisation
  • Creativity
  • Deadline

Here are a couple of examples to show how rubrics change depending on the project.

“HP Personal” evaluation
Name:
Date:

Aspects to be evaluated
Final Mark
Speaks English in class
/20
Uses new vocabulary
/15
Uses new structures
/15
Speaks fluently
/10
Brings materials
/10
Reorganizes information using own words
/10
Solves problems creatively
/10
Uses tools efficiently
/10
Total
/100
 
Written Language Use
/20
Oral Language Use
/20
Length (6 or +)
/10
Audio
/10
HP campaign similarity
/20
Creativity
/10
Deadline
/10
TOTAL
/100

Final mark and comment:

Evaluation “Art Stories”
Name:
Date:

Aspects to be evaluated
Final Mark
Speaks English in class
/30
Speaks fluently
/10
Integrates structures
/10
Uses new vocabulary
/10
Participates actively and collaborates with group
/20
Uses dictionary efficiently
/10
Uses chosen tool effectively
/10
Total
/100
 
General oral language use
/30
General written language use
/30
Visual coherence
/15
Narrative concepts
/15
Deadline
/10
TOTAL
/100

Final mark and comment:

My perceived benefits of using rubrics are these:

  • They can teach students what is important to consider in each project, in terms of skills and content.
  • They can guide students while working on the project itself.
  • They can be used a checklist for students’ self-assessment of their work prior to handing in their final products.
  • They can help teachers when assessing projects by providing transparent aspects to consider.

Effective rubrics have to be well-designed, just as good tests. So writing good rubrics improves with practice!

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