You want to give good feedback to students for project work but not spend your life marking
“Use Moodle rubrics”
[If you don’t have Moodle, then rubrics are great for giving feedback, you’ll just need to do them with paper or Word, which doesn’t save as much time – it is still worth looking at the sort of rubric given as an example below though, as the teaching method can be used whatever system you use]
What are rubrics?
Rubrics allow you to specify areas for marking and then for each area you can specify the exact criteria that have to be met to get a certain score. These are displayed in a grid format. You can show the rubric to students at the start of a project so that they know what you are looking for in a project or item of work.
Why use rubrics?
- They focus students (and you when marking) to the features that you are looking for and they should be demonstrating
- Students can refer to them as they work, so they can self/peer mark their work in order to progress further (formative feedback)
- They give a fair and accurate method of marking work at the end of a project (summative)
- By definition, if a student hasn’t got a top mark, they will know from the rubric what they needed to do in order to progress
- They are great evidence for inspectors/workbook scrutiny etc – but they do this whilst saving you time and helping the students!
How do you use rubrics?
I’ve used rubrics with both Moodle and on paper. Moodle is much faster at marking work due to the rubric feature, but the same can be done by printing the rubric and ticking the boxes for each student. If you don’t want to know how to set up rubrics, then go to the end of this post to see some advice on using them.
Setting up rubrics
1. Add an activity
2. Add an assignment
3. Add the title (which appears in your course) and a description – this is best if it includes information about the project and what they have to do
4. Select your submission options, so for a Python or Scratch file it would be a file submission. If they work in a group then it is a good idea to also select online text and they can then enter all their group members in the text box
5. Change the grading method to “Rubric”
6. Now click “Save and display”
7. You can define template assessments. So if all programming will have the same assessment this is a great time saver. For now, click “Define new grading form from scratch”
8. Enter a name for the grading rubric.
9. Now enter each of the criteria areas on the left most column with the number of points you will award on the right. You can have different points for each area and you can rearrange the order if you make a mistake. It takes minutes to set these up and is easier than doing the equivalent with a word processor
10. Save the rubric and you are done
When you go to add a grade for a user you will click grade…
Then your rubric appears. You now just select each of the criteria which they met. Moodle will then calculate their percentage for you (and if you set it up, then a grade too). You can also add written feedback – but you don’t really need to as if they didn’t get a point they can see what they needed to do in order to progress.
The student view will appear like this within the assignment…
And like this within their gradebook…
Advice on using rubrics
It is easy for students to look at a percentage and not what they did/didn’t achieve. One way around this is to give them the feedback, then get them to explain how they could make improvements to their project or program. They need to be specific, but can use the rubric to help them. So if the criteria they didn’t get was “use meaningful variable names”, then they would write that to improve their program they should change the variable “a” to “dogAge”, for example.
- Create the rubric before you give the students the project so that they and you have something to work to
- Share the rubric often with your students
- Make the rubric manageable to mark and useful criteria to identify areas of weakness
- Get students to peer assess with the rubric so that they can use the assessment to progress further
- If marking group work, get one student to submit, along with the names of their group members. Complete one rubric, then copy to other users. On paper this is easy; in Moodle open more than one tab to make the copying easier
Rubrics are a great way to save time and give clear and concise marking criteria and feedback to students. By getting students to print and feedback on the rubric results, you can also show evaluation skills, progression and a phenominal evidence trail for anyone looking at your teaching – but the best feature is that your students will learn more.