Friday, February 12, 2016

Using Rubrics Adds Depth to Analytical Learning

In recent years, higher education has moved in a utilitarian direction, refocusing on the purported purpose of post-secondary education- preparing its students to live and work after graduation.

Many faculty have begun to show a preference of active learning, a strategy that fosters critical and analytical thinking about material and its application. Recently, support has risen for utilizing rubrics as a way to support effective teaching. Rubrics, scholars suggest, have many uses in university classrooms to stimulate active learning by increasing the quality and quantity of student performance.

Rubrics bring clarity and order to assignments that are more subjective and require more abstract thought than multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank style questions. However, the benefits of using rubrics can go much further than that. Rubrics help to ensure quality by providing criteria for what different levels of manipulation and understanding of material are worth in terms of grading. Best of all, because students have a means to assess their work as they are completing it, they engage in the critical thinking required for self-evaluation.

Rubrics can be used in creative ways to boost energy in the classroom and enable students to view material from novel standpoints. For instance, a rubric might be used as a means for students to think like their professor if they are asked to write a rubric for their own assignment or use a rubric to grade their own work or those of their peers. When students create rubrics or grade using a rubric, they are applying course knowledge in a more complex and applied way than a typical assignment may require. Classroom practices that include rubrics hold great potential in stimulating deeper levels of thought and engagement with material by forcing students to think analytically and critically.

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