Monday, 22 May 2017

Rubrics as part of online MOOC peer reviews #mooc #elearning

An addition to the EdTech options that I am currently organising. A rubric is a grading tool used within a course (blended or online courses) which is used to enable students as well as learners to understand what is expected of them in terms of solving an assignment or reviewing assignments from their peers.

Where - within the learning process - can a rubric be used?

Typically, as a teacher you will first introduce a case or project (generic example) that is exemplary for a specific process or project (for instance designing an online course overview). Each concept of interest is highlighted in detail. After explaining that particular example of a case, an alternative is given to deepen understanding. Then the learners are requested to build a similar case, yet adapted befitting their own context, infrastructure or conditions. By asking them to build a contextualised case, you bring the content and the assignment closer to their own previous knowledge. To offer guidance you provide a rubric, including the concepts you described in the detailed example. 

Brief orientation of the rubric: the rubric provided bellow can be used as an example rubric which can be adapted to align the conditions to the course topic. In this case the rubric is used to peer review online course overview. So the assignment include providing a course overview, including content and accompanying assignments consisting of several modules, with one module completely worked out in detail. The overview will provide an idea of the overall structure of the course, the detailed module gives an idea of signposting, descriptions, attained learning objectives. 

What is the benefit of using a rubric
A rubric has multiple purposes and can be used in different settings:
  •  It can be provided to learners prior to having to submit an assignment. That way they understand what the professor will be looking for, what the important criteria of the assignment are, and the rubric will offer a structured overview of how to strengthen a project, proposal or assignment prior to submitting it.
  • A rubric can also be used as a grading or reviewing tool between peers (e.g. learners). A rubric offers a more objective way to review each others work. In addition reviewing each others work will result in a more in-depth understanding of what the project/proposal can be and how your own project can be enhanced by looking at how your peers solve it, or design it.
  • By using a rubric the learners also get an idea of critically looking at other projects, and at the same time knowing the challenges that come along when writing a project based on specific criteria. Which is useful for future project work or collaborations with partners.

Using a rubric triggers deeper reflection in the learner on a specific tasks, as well as trigger additional actions concerning the task by integrating the criteria in a project or task. This leads to higher order thinking.

Example rubric
This example rubric is based on reviewing an online course project, but it can be adapted to any field using criteria that are relevant to that field and the requested project or proposal at hand.

The rubric below is made up out of four grading elements, you can increase or decrease them according to your own preference. In this case I choose to use an even amount of grading elements, as this pushes the learner to make a non-neutral choice, the feedback is either bad or good, not neutral. So you put the learner out of a comfort zone by not providing a neutral option, which would be an option when given three or five grades.

In general, once you have a criteria, you will be able to describe a good quality delivery of that criteria as that is typically what a teacher/professor would hope to get from a learner. From there you work your way back towards what you would consider to be a poor quality delivery of that particular criteria.


Grading criteria
Poor quality
Insufficient  quality
Sufficient quality
Good quality
Overall course structure
There is no coherent course structure.
An attempt is made to provide a course structure, but the course lacks descriptions, has no sign-posting to guide the learner through the course.
The course elements are structured, but not all course units are accompanied by descriptions and/or signposting. Leaving the learner to test those course units for themselves.
The course is well-structured providing clear descriptions and sign-posting throughout the course, enabling self-directed learning.
Online content in alignment with learning objectives
No learning objectives are given.
Learning objectives are given, but they seem to be disconnected from the content that is provided in the course, or they are not covered by the content of the course.
Learning objectives are given, but it is not always clear where the relevant content connected to these learning objectives can be found.
The learning objectives in the course are all clearly reached by the end of the course. The alignment of the learning objectives with the course content can be traced by looking  at the titles of the different course segments.
Course content engagement
The content is boring, lengthy and non-inspiring.
The course content consists of an amalgam of course elements that do not touch any challenges, nor do they inspire to integrate ideas coming from the content into my own context.
Parts of the content are engaging and inspiring. Some course units lack mentioning challenges and solutions, but they do provide informative background material.
The course is captivating, in an engaging way. It provides consize and meaningful content related to the subject matter, highlighting challenges and solutions related to each course unit.
Complexity of the learning path.
The course elements are provided chaotically, without enabling the learner to grow as they go through the different learning units.
An attempt is made to enable the learner to grow throughout the course, but too little stepping stones are provided in between the course units. The learner isn’t provided with enough background to assimilate new knowledge so they can move to the next course unit and understand what is covered there.
The course consists of logical steps, moving the learner towards more understanding by providing new information that supports basic knowledge creation. But some units lack additional, advanced learning material.  
The course evolves from simple concepts to complex combinations of concepts. Within each course unit there is also a consistent increase of content complexity.
Relevance and contextualisation of course assessments
Assignments are lacking.
Too little assessment is available to enable the learner to self-evaluate their own learning.
The assessments provide ample opportunity to see whether the content is understood. However, there are no contextualizable assessments or assignments provided. For example: no challenge or need based assignments.
Course assignments can be contextualised given the learner’s background or field expertise. Course assessments are varied and range from simple to complex. The course offers self-assessment options after each larger content segment covering a learning objective.
Content support through media use
Only one type of media is offered as content throughout the course.
The course integrates two different types of media (video and text), but the visuals add nothing to the story that is told. It could just as well be offered in writing. The video is of very low quality, you can hardly see what is recorded.

The course uses a mix of media, in accordance with the affordances of that particular media (e.g. discussion paper to increase debate, video of an actual engineering plant described in the course module).
Critical viewpoints provided and stimulated.
The content only shows the topic from one particular angle and is not critical.
The content is infrequently critically analysed by the content provider.
The content is enriched with critical arguments, both the challenges and the solutions.
Challenges and solutions related to the content are addressed from multiple angles. The learners are engaged to find additional viewpoints, or add critical content.