The Rubric Approach


The Rubric is the instrument which outlines the criteria for the evaluation of a piece of writing. The Rubric focuses on both student self-evaluation and instructor evaluation of an essay through the use of a two-part form.

The first half of the Rubric Sheet is devoted to a student's description of his or her own work before the instructor evaluates it. This section encourages the student to define a particular essay in terms of his or her writing process and at the same time requires that the student specify and list the strengths and weaknesses of the essay.

The second half of the Rubric Sheet consists of six basic categories or points of view from which to evaluate writing: audience, organization/theme structure, development, sentence structure, word choice, and grammar/usage/ mechanics. Beneath each Rubric category heading is a breakdown of the category's individual elements. After the instructor has holistically evaluated a student's essay, the Rubric enables the instructor to list specific strengths and weaknesses of the student's work.

In addition to its use in evaluation, the Rubric can be used as a diagnostic, instructional, or revision tool. It provides a common language between instructor and student and, therefore, can be used to assist the student in revising and editing.

The Evaluation Method

The instructor judges the work category by category, moving from the first category to the last. The instructor measures his or her reaction to the work against the statement directly following each category head. For example, in category II, the statement is: "This essay has a clear structure appropriate to its thesis and subject." If this statement is true or generally true for the work being evaluated, then the work is passing in that category. The instructor marks the category as passing or not passing, then notes the specific items of the category which are problematic or particularly well-executed. Each item is keyed to The Allyn & Bacon Handbook.