Behind the Magic Rubric Curtain: Allowing the Students to Peek at the Grading Process

By Jennifer Daly

This semester, one of my comp 1 classes requested a rubric. I utilize the guidelines set forth by FYW, but the only other rubrics I have created and used were for multimodal assignments. When these students requested a rubric, they gave answers such as “I am an adult student who hasn’t been in school in a while and a rubric will help me guide my writing” or “my high school teacher used one so I am used to them.” They made valid points, and I believe that when a student requests a tool that will help them, if it is in my power, I should give it to them.

I did what any educator does—I read articles about rubric construction, read rubrics from community colleges through Ivy League schools, and came to, what I thought, was a happy median. Proud of this creation that I spent hours stitching together, I presented it to the class for agreement. All was settled then—I was using a rubric and they cleared the final draft for use.

Then, I graded the first batch of essays. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I wasn’t just disappointed with the quality of writing; I was disappointed in the grades I was giving. It was there, spelled out with math, but these grades were horrendous. And, I felt terrible writing them in. I could hear the sighs of freshman souls escaping and hopelessness seeping in…yes, it was that bad. But, like any other educator, I brainstormed to find a solution. That solution is outlined below; please feel free to use any/all of it.  Is it the “right” answer? I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer when it comes to these sort of dilemmas, but this helped my students.   Continue reading