Constructing Effective Rubrics
for L2 Classrooms
Workshop at the BC TEAL Spring
Victoria, February 19, 2011
Michael Burri, M.A. TESOL
BC Institute of Technology
“The goal of assessment has to be, above all, to
support the improvement of learning and
teaching” (Frederiksen & Collins, 1989, p. 32).
- Established in September 2008
- Intensive EAP program
- 7 levels: DTC and BBY campus
- 4 skills
- 7 week terms
- 25 hrs of instruction/week
- 50% pass
- Approx. 300 students + 25 instructors
- Ongoing curriculum project
- Assessment OF learning: achievement-based
Formative (e.g. Black, 2009)
- Assessment FOR learning: facilitates students’
- Frequent assessment of student progress informs
- Assessment to meet student needs
- Use of varied assessment approaches
- Learning action must follow feedback (Black et al., cited in
“Assessment for learning is any assessment for
which the first priority in its design and practice
is to serve the purpose of promoting pupils’
learning” (Black et al., 2002, cited in Black, 2004)
“At its most basic, a rubric is a scoring tool that
lays out the specific expectations for an
assignment. Rubrics divide an assignment into
its component parts and provide a detailed
description of what constitutes acceptable or
unacceptable levels of performance for each of
those parts” (Stevens & Levi, 2005, p.3).
“Rubrics are used to provide feedback on and to
grade an array of student products, including
concepts maps, literature reviews, reflective
writings, bibliographies, oral presentations, critical
thinking, citation analyses, portfolios, projects and
oral and written communication skills” (Reddy & Andrade,
Issues in Rubric Design
- Course objectives + curriculum
- Consistency in scoring (reliability)
- Measuring what rubric is intended to measure
- Analytic or holistic?
- Establishing assessment criteria
- Simple/clear language
- Time-consuming to design?
- Instructional guides, not just grading tools
Holistic vs. Analytic Rubrics
- score of overall process, product, quality
- quick scoring process
- summative in nature
- limited feedback
- Focused response
- Several scores and summed total score
- Scoring process potentially slower than
- Effective, detailed, formative feedback
- Encourage critical thinking (Stevens & Levi, 2005)
- Time-consuming to construct, but save time
Levels of quality/scale
Poor (12 pts)
Good (18 pts)
Exceeds Expectations (25 pts)
Student is not fully informed
about the topic. Presentation
does not offer well-rounded
discussion of the topic. Slides
may be unorganized or
difficult to follow.
knowledge of the subject, but
doesn’t elaborate much.
Presentation is logical and
presents both sides of the issue.
Student demonstrates full knowledge of
the subject. Presentation is logical,
interesting, and presents both sides of
the issue in detail & without bias.
Uses fewer than 3 sources
and/or Works Cited page has
several formatting errors.
Used 3 credible sources. Works
Cited page has some errors in
formatting or spelling.
3 credible sources. Works Cited Page
follows correct MLA formatting. Correct
information and sources are doublespaced, alphabetically listed, & correctly
Slides contain sparse,
incorrect, or unrelated
information. Little attention
to polishing final product.
Slides are organized and contain
sufficient information. Some
blending of appropriate graphics
Creative; eye-catching; seamlessly
blends graphics and text. Slides in
logical, easy-to-follow sequence.
Speaker seems uninterested
in the topic. Speaker simply
reads slides with little
attempt to capture/keep
Speaker seems interested in the
topic. Speaker may read some
information off slides.
Presentation is interesting to
Speaker is animated, captivating,
informative. Speaker does not read
slides; rather supplements information
on slides with other facts/examples.
Rubric taken from http://www.rcampus.com/index.cfm
…simply handing out a rubric cannot be
expected to have an impact on student work:
students must be taught to actively use a
rubric……in order to reap its benefits” (Reddy &
Andrade, 2010, p.445).
……….“Rubrics are not cast in cement. They are
flexible, adaptable grading tools that become
better and better the more times we use them.
Their strength, reliability and validity increase as
we use rubrics, discover limitations, and make
revisions” (Stevens & Levi, 2005, p.93).
Black, P. (2009). Formative assessment issues across the curriculum: the theory and the
practice. TESOL Quarterly, 43(3), 519-524.
Black, P. (2004). The nature and value of formative assessment for learning. Retrieved
January 28, 2011 from www.kcl.ac.uk/content/1/c4/73/57/formative.pdf.
Frederiksen, J. R., & Collins, A. (1989). A systems approach to educational testing.
Educational Researcher, 18(9), 27-32.
Mertler, C. A. (2001). Designing scoring rubrics for your classroom. Practical Assessment,
Research & Evaluation, 7(25). Retrieved August 10, 2010 from
Rcampus. (2011). Retrieved January 31, 2011 from http://www.rcampus.com/index.cfm.
Reddy, M. Y., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education.
Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 435-448.
Stevens, D. & Levi, A. (2005). Introduction to rubrics. Sterling, VI: Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Underhill, N. (2002). Testing spoken language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.