Strengths and Limitations of Rubrics

The first unit in my Life Science class this year was titled “Ecology and the Environment”. For a final assessment, the students needed to make a diorama of a biome of their choice. I created a rubric to show my expectations for the diorama and how it would be graded.

When making the rubric used for the diorama, I looked at the assignment sheet and made sure I included all of the learning targets for the unit. I had seven major categories of assessment for the rubric on the left. They were: attractiveness, accuracy, abiotic factors, biotic factors, cycle of matter, interesting facts, and references. To the right of each of these categories, I gave points according to how well the student completed the task for each category. A perfect score for the rubric was 100 points. The rubric and a grading sheet for one of my classes is shown below.

Strengths of this rubric are that it gives a clear direction and expectation of what the students need to do and how it will be graded. It helps me to be more objective when I am grading. I look to the rubric to guide me in assessing each diorama. Lastly, I can be sure that all of my learning targets were met because I designed the rubric to include all of them.

Limitations of this rubric include that it may have inhibited creativity of some of my students. It could be that this rubric was too specific and so students were inclined to follow the rubric instead of exploring ideas and being more creative. Another limitation is that it may not assess all of what the students have learned. In one case, I think the parents helped a student quite a lot with her diorama and they might of learned about that biome but I am not sure how much my student did.

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Despite limitations of rubrics, I found this one particularly helpful when assessing a diorama project for my Ecology unit. It contained the learning targets for the unit and it also helped me to be objective when grading each diorama.

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