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WRITING RUBRICS

Writing Descriptive Indicators

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Create Your Own Rubric Assignment

 

This activity will introduce you to descriptive indicators.  You will have an opportunity to practice writing descriptive indicators that demonstrate specific, measurable learning behaviours across performance levels.

Learning Objective

  • Given specific criteria, the participant will write original descriptive indicators across performance levels for rubric construction.

Resources

  • Word processor that can save as HTML
  • Reference Chart:  Verbs to Use for Writing Learning Objectives (Columbia College web site – Faculty Resources)

Directions

  1. Review the Key Concepts and examples.
  2. Do each learning activity and click on the Suggestions button for feedback with sample responses.
  3. Using related link information, you will be accessing an online rubric maker called Rubistar.  Use this site as an opportunity to practice writing descriptive indicators. You could post to the Discussion Board for comments and suggestions by colleagues.
  4. Consider the Discussion and Reflection questions below and be prepared to participate in a class discussion.

Key Concepts

  • Descriptive indicators are critical components of the rubric.  They are observable, measurable descriptors indicating extent to which a criterion is met..

Example:

Understands the key ideas of persuasive writing.

Can you observe understanding? You can’t observe it directly, but you can observe a performance.

Uses persuasive writing techniques. 

There is a distinct difference between “understands” and “uses.”  When a student “uses” a technique, it is measurable and observable.

 

 

Learning Activity #1:  Practice Identifying Observable and Measurable Descriptive Indicators:

 

Identify which of the following indicators are observable and measurable.  Check your answers using the Key at the end of the exercise.

 

a.       Identifies the formulas required for research analysis.                       Yes   No   

b.      Motivates others in completing task.                                                Yes   No

c.       Communicates understanding of correct essay format.                     Yes   No

d.      Connects all ideas logically to support the argument.                        Yes   No

e.       Provides examples of critical thinking.                                             Yes   No

 

SUGGESTIONS

 

 

  • Descriptors help the facilitator to differentiate between the different performance levels in student work.
  • Descriptors inform the student what is expected of them at each performance level.  They give a picture of what students need to do to improve their performance.
  • When writing descriptive indicators, focus on the positives (the presence of desired characteristics), rather than on negatives (error, omissions).
  • Watch for vague language.  This is open to differing interpretations.
  • Keep the opening terms (verbs) parallel as much as possible.  For example: Identifies, Selects, Summarizes, etc.  Note how the opening verbs are similar to those used to write learning objectives (Chart).
  • To help you write an indicator, you could begin with a stem statement, such as the following, to focus on the outcomes being assessed. Fill in the blank using an identified indicator.  Once this is done, you could delete the stem and use the remainder as your indicator.

Starting With a Stem:

 

This response demonstrates...

This response provides evidence of...

This response makes some use of...

This response shows...

This response identifies...

 

Examples of Descriptive Indicators:

 

o       This response demonstrates understanding of hypothesis testing.

Delete the stem and use the following:  Demonstrates understanding of hypothesis testing.

o       This response correctly constructs and interprets confidence intervals.

Use:  Correctly constructs and interprets confidence intervals.

 

  • Performance Levels:  As you learn how to write indicators, you will need to consider the various performance levels. Notice how in the following rubric, highlighted words demonstrate how a particular indicator changes throughout the performance levels.

Example of Oral Presentation Rubric with indicators at all performance levels:

 

A

10.0 – 8.5

B

8.4 – 7.0

C

6.9 – 5.5

D

5.4 – 4.0

F

3.9 - 0

Content

Provides evidence of extensive supporting research.

Gives a complete explanation of all key points

Uses relevant examples/ references.

Provides evidence of well selected supporting research.

Gives a complete explanation of most key points.

Uses some relevant examples/ references.

Provides some supporting research.  More research is required.

Gives an incomplete explanation of key points.

Uses a few examples/ references.

Not enough research has been done to support the content.

Gives a limited explanation of a few key points.

Uses few examples/ references.

Indicates little to no research.

Gives a limited explanation of a few points.

Uses little to no examples/ references.

 

 

  • For each criteria identified, if is often useful to begin by describing exemplary performance and poor performance.  Then, you would complete the intervening levels of performance. 

 

For example, the following chart illustrates the two polar ends of the performance continuum.

 

 

Example: Short Answer Writing Response Rubric

 

Criteria

A

10.0 – 8.5

B

8.4 – 7.0

C

6.9 – 5.5

D

5.4 – 4.0

F

3.9 - 0

Style

Expression of Ideas

Uses highly effective, clearly focused, varied sentences, addressing audience and purpose.

 

 

 

Uses simplistic sentence structures that are awkward and do not address audience and purpose.

 

 

 

Learning Activity #2:  Practice Writing Indicators at the A and F Performance Levels

 

Term Paper Rubric

In this exercise, practice writing indicators for an A and F performance level.  Once you are finished, check the Suggestions box for feedback on how these could have been written.

 

 

Criteria

A

10.0 – 8.5

B

8.4 – 7.0

C

6.9 – 5.5

D

5.4 – 4.0

F

3.9 - 0

Use of supporting information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUGGESTIONS

 

 

 


 

  • Now examine the indicators for the intervening levels.  Note how words like mostly, some, and limited are used to provide information on the degrees of change between performance levels.

 

Example:  Short Answer Writing Response Rubric

 

Criteria

A

10.0 – 8.5

B

8.4 – 7.0

C

6.9 – 5.5

D

5.4 – 4.0

F

3.9 - 0

Style

Expression of Ideas

Uses highly effective, clearly focused, varied sentences, addressing audience and purpose.

Mostly uses effective, well structured, focused, varied sentences, addressing audience and purpose.

Demonstrates some varied sentence structures, addressing audience and purpose.  At times, sentences are awkward.

Demonstrates limited attempts at created varied sentences to address audience and purpose.  Sentences are mostly awkward.

Uses simplistic sentence structures that are awkward and do not address audience and purpose.

 

 

 

Learning Activity #3: Practice Term Paper Rubric:

 

Write the intervening levels for the Term Paper Rubric.  If you need some hints, check the Suggestions box.

 

 

Criteria

A

10.0 – 8.5

B

8.4 – 7.0

C

6.9 – 5.5

D

5.4 – 4.0

F

3.9 - 0

Use of supporting information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suggestions

 

Reflection Questions

  • How do the descriptive indicators compare with writing objectives? 
  • Stiggins (2001) points out that there are five kinds of objectives in any curriculum: knowledge, reasoning, skills, the ability to create products and values.  He asserts that the only way to assess a student’s ability to perform a skill or the ability to create a product is to actually observe the performance of the skill or the creation of the product.”  Do you agree with this perspective?
  • What is the difference between good work and weaker work?

Helpful Hints

  • Use terminology that is easily understood by students.
  • Consider creating descriptors that are general to a number of situations, so that you can reuse the rubric.
  • Be careful when using quantitative descriptors.  This can lead to judgment by counting rather than evaluation based upon the essential criteria.

Related Links

 

 

KEY WORDS:  DESCRIPTIVE INDICATORS...PERFORMANCE LEVELS...STEM STATEMENT