Grading Rubrics Improve Both Remote and F2F Instruction

By Dr. Diane Chapman, Executive Director, OFD

I have often heard professors lament, “I would teach for free, but they have to pay me for grading.” This highlights what many of us know: Even under desirable conditions, grading is difficult. What’s worse, grading is often the most time consuming aspect of teaching with the worst payoff. In my experience, grading often results in the most stress both from the process itself and from responding to the seemingly inevitable emails from students concerning grades.

The purpose of this post is not to give step by step directions on how to develop a rubric as those already exist (see examples from University of Florida, Gallaudet University, and Duquesne University). The purpose of this post is to make the case for the use of rubrics in your teaching and to highlight the use of single point rubrics.

The Case for Using Rubrics

In remote and online learning, the stress of the grading process can be amplified. Students feel more removed from their instructors and classmates and may have more anxiety over how grades are assigned. Clear and robust grading rubrics help to combat grade anxiety for students while reducing grading time and increasing grading consistency for instructors. Rubrics also promote equity and consistency (Ragupathi & Lee, 2020). Research has shown that the impact of feedback to students decreases as time between the assignment and feedback increases (Rucker & Thomson, 2003). I have personally seen fewer challenges and questions about my grading when using a clearly defined rubric.

Single Point Rubrics

To cut down on the time spent on rubric design and to help prevent students from focusing only on grades, some instructors have gone to a single point rubric. A single-point rubric includes only guidance on what successful work looks like, and does not include grades. These rubrics focus on improvement and do not place student work in predetermined boxes.

Because single point rubrics focus only on successful work, they are less wordy and more likely to be read and understood than other types of rubrics. They can also be used in different ways and as both traditional assessment tools and for formative assessment.

Well designed grading rubrics benefit both the students and instructors in both face-to-face and online courses. If you want to get going quickly, enlist your colleagues to help by asking to see grading rubrics they have already developed. There is no need to make your rubric from scratch if others exist and can be modified for your needs. If you want help in developing any type of grading rubric, modifying a rubric, or evaluating a rubric, you can sign up for one-on-one consultations available through the Office of Faculty Development.