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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rubrics As Full-Process Compositional Power Tools

Start, rather than end, with the rubric?
A rubric can be used in the invention phase of writing, not just in assessments.  It is just a matter of perspective, and whether or not you’re willing to create a rubric that piques the imagination and triggers a series of ideas of how to structure and build the essay or other piece of discourse.

The ideal rubric can be both a “triggering rubric” and a “checklist rubric” and can be used in the invention, outlining, drafting, and revision phases of writing. Here are the uses of a good rubric:

1.    Brainstorming / invention:  Reading the rubric can trigger thoughts and ideas, and help with narrowing / focusing the main idea and clarifying the desired outcome or goal of the writing
2.    Outlining: Developing an appropriate sequence, as well as connections back to the main idea and the writing purpose or goal
3.    Drafting:  Thinking of the best possible examples and supporting evidence, deciding where to place statistics, examples, case studies, and references to published reports
4.    Revising:  Triggering thoughts and ideas about where there might be gaps and a need for expansion, and also where it might be necessary to cut, prune, or re-organize

Customized Rubrics: Reinforce mission, passion, vision, and the “rhetorical situation”
Working with a rubric does not have to be a dry, boring experience. Yes, it can certainly be used to check boxes and to carefully assess whether or not a paper has met expectations at each level of competency.

For example, you can use your rubric to incorporate additional criteria besides the typical “purpose statement” and “organization.” You can add rows for additional criteria:

1.    Reflects ethical values, respect for diversity, and a sense of fair play
2.    Demonstrates competency in the technical area in the topic
3.    Exhibits rigorous research design and method
4.    Discusses competing perspectives or views in a thorough-going manner
5.    Uses several types of supporting evidence, which can include statistics, case studies, examples, and research study results

Don’t forget the Meta-Cognitive potential of the rubric

1.    Internalize the writing process
2.    Apply experiential learning
3.    Incorporate prior learning
4.    Situate the learning – place in a context

The following rubric is one that can be used for expository writing; specifically, for college-level courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. It can be used as a point of departure.

By adding additional criteria, which tie directly to a specific writing occasion, it’s possible to use the rubric at every step of the writing process, as detailed above.

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