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Rubrics and their importance to remote assessments in the Philippines

Jack Brazel
Jack Brazel
Regional Director, South East Asia






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Aligning teaching practices to student learning objectives is crucial in aiding students to understand their progress and what is expected of them in order to move forward. Well-designed rubrics to guide assessment are key in facilitating performance expectations between students and educators, and warrant greater attention to ensure that grading criteria sufficiently reflect course content and support learners in aspiring to the greatest heights of learning.

With future-proofing the Philippine education system high on the national agenda, constructive alignment of teaching and learning in course design and strengthening the student-teacher dynamic must be linchpins in the effort to maintain academic quality. Even more so in online and remote assessment settings, where additional clarity and support is needed to scaffold learning.

However, according to research, the shift to online learning saw heavier emphasis placed on grades rather than on learning outcomes and continuous instruction. Research by Cabual and Cabual also cites that one of the main challenges among several, was students’ difficulties in grasping what was expected of them.

It appears that a more responsive and flexible approach to online education that fosters engagement in the virtual classroom would better serve Filipino students and educators to overcome the challenges of remote learning. Doing this requires educators to rethink grading practices in relation to rubrics, so that the criteria by which students will be assessed on are crystal clear. This not only helps students understand on what basis they will be evaluated – reducing feelings of uncertainty and stress – but also enables teachers to evaluate student progress more accurately and consistently.

With online learning requiring more innovative methods to encourage deeper understanding between educator and student, student-minded rubrics establish standards that anchor both educators and students by elucidating areas for improvement and cutting to the core of student progress.

Tailoring rubrics to be more detailed and relevant to each unit or course provides students with a more precise target to aim for. Furthermore, empowering educators to undertake design of a meaningful rubric ensures they set students up for success and spend less time grading the same problems over and over again. These combined benefits mean less surprising and undesirable results where student performance is in harmony with assessment goals and learning objectives more broadly.

Designing Effective Rubrics

A well-designed rubric system offers educators flexibility across both formative and summative assessments to communicate with students on how they will be assessed, as well as ensure more consistent grading. It paves the way for fair and inclusive assessment by making it easier for students to understand the metrics used to grade their work.

As a transparent and reliable foundation for grading, rubrics should deploy clear and concise language when stating the relevant criteria assigned to a particular grade. For optimum clarity, each rubric description should explain the outcome to be actioned by students, clearly connecting it back to the skill(s) that will be measured. Clear distinction between different grade levels as reflected in the rubric descriptions is also vital so that students understand what qualifies as superior attainment, in contrast to average or satisfactory achievement.

Rubrics are most often thought of in the context of summative assessment, but when deployed for the purposes of formative assessment, can also support students in self-assessment and self-directed learning. These are particularly important skills for educators to help hone, as new expectations emerge in regard to students’ capacity for independent learning in remote settings, and later on, in the workforce.

Rubric design should be purposeful, not atomically recycled. And there are ways to make this process more efficient and intuitive for educators. Turnitin’s Feedback Studio solution supports the application of different rubrics from standard numerical types to qualitative and custom rubrics, and offers rubric scorecards and grading forms to help evaluate student work based on defined criteria and scales.

Instructors have the flexibility of uploading their own rubrics or building one from scratch, and saving rubric sets for subsequent tweaking throughout the lifespan of each semester or academic year.

Fostering collaboration

As a strategy to maximise impact of rubrics, educators and students may also jointly design rubrics to increase student accountability for their learning journey. Such co-creation of learning objectives can be seen as the pinnacle to student-educator understanding and motivating students to fully prepare and commit themselves to an assessment.

Another tactic is to embed a peer-based feedback loop following an assessment – getting students to evaluate each other's work – to boost meaningful student participation. In this vein, Turnitin Feedback Studio’s peer-assessment feature, PeerMark, encourages student self-reflection and ownership of their learning through a holistic and collaborative approach to grading and feedback. Better yet, the tool traverses in-person and online environments to boost levels of interaction and engagement that can suffer in virtual classrooms.

A commitment to designing more relevant, detailed rubrics goes a long way to building trust between educators and students and promoting authentic, meaningful learning. In the delivery of remote assessment, educators in the Philippines are encouraged to reflect on the alignment of teaching and learning via rubrics. Clear and actionable metrics improve students’ ability to understand what qualifies as mastery of knowledge and learning content, subsequently providing them the opportunity to demonstrate it. Technology-assisted tools streamline this workflow and improve productivity, helping to bridge gaps in remote settings, for the best possible learning outcomes.