02 January 2010


I've been collecting a variety of rubrics recently, along with various bits and pieces of research and advice on their construction. It's not that I haven't written them before. I just haven't had to write them for standards that are like the one below.
Generate ideas and create original works for personal and group expression using a variety of digital tools.
  • Create products using a combination of text, images, sound, music and video.
  • Generate creative solutions and present ideas.
I've been feeling a little "descriptipated," that is to say, having trouble cranking out what I think would represent the levels of a rubric for the standard shown above (and others like it). As I mentioned in my last post, this sort of standard reminds me of something you might see in the arts---there is a creative process involved. I had some arts rubrics mentioned to me. Here is an example of one:

This type of rubric makes me a little sad. Why? First of all, it's about quantity---not quality. Even if every child is not a Monet or Picasso, I would like to think that their understanding of the basic principles should be assessed as opposed to how many of the principles show up in the product. If one student product has only 4 attributes, but those are demonstrated at an expert level, then this is not as important as a student product which shows 7 poorly executed attributes---because, hey, 7 is better than 4, right? I think there's something wrong with this approach.

Although I have not included this information with the graphic above, a score of "3" is at standard for this product (as described in its directions). I would like to see detailed descriptors for every level---but if you're only going to do one, make it at the standard, not at Level 4. I'm also a little concerned at the number of standards each part of the rubric ostensibly addresses. How do you give effective feedback to kids when there is a melting pot of standards present in a holistic rubric?

I have to say that quite a few of the rubrics I'm running across suffer from one or more similar issues. This is especially bothersome when I see things like this:

Why? Because there is no requirement that the student actually consider the validity of the source. If s/he comes up with any three sources and lists the basic information...it's "Excellent." We are missing opportunities for asking for critical thinking from our students in favor of something more rote. Apparently, reading three things is good enough (regardless of veracity), as long as you include the title, author, type of source, and date in a list. I have other beefs with this rubric, including the "Minimal" to "Excellent" labels and the whole "passing/not passing" thing at the top, but that is another rant for another time.

These sorts of examples are clogging up my thinking. I've been needing a healthy dose of brain fiber...a mental cleanse and new starting point in writing descriptors. What I'm starting with now is thinking about What is involved in creating a multimedia product? There's likely some research...some understanding about which tool is best for developing the product you're after (e.g. ppt, voicethread, wiki, etc.)...the ability to make original content (as opposed to just pull it from others into a single product)...a sense of how to use the various elements (graphics, text, audio) to enhance the overall message. Now I can start thinking about how a beginner might approach such a task (e.g. probably borrows all content) vs. an expert (records own audio/video) and using these to write some descriptors. It's not about quantities---did the ppt have 10 slides with three bullet points each? Are there 3 graphics and two outbound links from the webpage?---but the actual characteristics of a performance. This is admittedly a much more difficult thing to do. I think it will be more meaningful in the end in terms of what kinds of feedback students get and the instructional steps teachers can take next.

Onward we will go with this task this month. I will share what I am allowed to float along the way. I'm hoping not to feel the mental bloat of descriptipation much longer.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

Quantify art? Describe qualitative art markers?

Is the teacher to become an art critic? (We all know how we feel about critics.)

Just askin', SG. No real substantive contribution here.

Frankly, I'm with the supreme court justice that said he knew it when he saw it. That talent helps me pick out good ties, too. ;)

Guess I'll never make the grade as a standards-based art teacher.

The Science Goddess said...

I don't have the personal knowledge and expertise to teach art, fer shur. However, I do think art teachers must be critics (of sorts). If there aren't qualities to evaluate (regardless of what is represented by the product), how does one provide feedback to students?

This is definitely a leap for those of us who have a background in something more concrete like science or social studies. Even skills in those arenas (e.g. using a graphic or constructing a hypothesis) have "look fors" even if the data change.

Here's hoping I can identify those sorts of elements with ed tech projects. :)

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Just curious...what do the art teachers say about rubrics? (You can answer after you have a chance to talk to them!)

Save the MAC said...

I thought Marzano's scale has promise as it broadly frames out how a rubric might be built.

Here's a video depicting such a scale/rubric frame. http://www.bb.minnetonka.k12.mn.us/bbcswebdav/institution/District_Curriculum/Assessment/Pinnacle%2520Gradebook/Video%2520of%2520Marzano%2520Report%2520Card/Marzano%2520Rubric%2520and%2520Report%2520Card.htm

On the topic of "subjective" vs "objective", I'm with Marzano and O'Connor -- there is no way to avoid it, it's all subjective.