Theory and practice of learning and teaching


Traditionally, rubrics were used simply as grading tools to provide marking frameworks that were transparent to students. More recently, rubrics have been promoted as educational tools to inform students of good practice with the assumption that they engage with these rubrics to guide their learning. However, some tensions arise from this approach, including the assumption that students actually engage with assessment rubrics and, most notably, whether students understand the purpose of rubrics and the language used within. In response, this paper promotes the practice of teachers involving their students in the co-construction of rubrics by presenting a Model of Collaborative Rubric Construction. This Model was informed by an extensive literature review, advice from international assessment experts, and both qualitative and quantitative data from students and teachers who worked in partnership to co-construct and use assessment rubrics across three higher education institutions. The Model, structured as three-tiers, offers background information about rubrics and their co-construction, strategies to guide collaboration in the rubric co-construction process, and shared scholarship associated with the project (i.e., research methods, recommendations for practice, and relevant references and publications) in which the Model was developed.

Practitioner Notes

1.Teachers in higher education often use rubrics as tools for assessment with an underlying assumption that students understand their purpose and how these will be used by their teacher. 2. There is often a disjunct between the assumptions of teachers and actual student understanding of rubrics. 3. When teachers and students work together in the co-construction of rubrics, opportunities are provided to dialogue and develop shared understanding of their purpose and use. 4. The presented Model of Collaborative Rubric Construction outlines a complete process for co-construction of rubrics which teachers may adopt fully, or in part, to improve shared understanding of rubrics with their students.