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Using Analytic Rubrics

Using Analytic Rubrics

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will learn about creating and using analytic rubrics to assess your students' performances and products.

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In this tutorial, we'll take a closer look at analytic rubrics. We'll begin with an overview of analytic rubrics, and then we'll discuss their benefits and potential disadvantages. You'll learn to create your own analytic rubric, and I'll share some tips for using analytic rubrics in your classroom. Let's get started.

First, what is an analytic rubric? An analytic rubric is usually formatted as a grid, and it provides the criteria in the left column, and the varying levels of performance along the top row. These performance levels are often described using numbers or descriptions. The cells within the grid are sometimes just left blank, but often, they may contain specific descriptions of the criteria at each of those performance levels.

So an analytic rubric is a scoring guide that you can use to evaluate varying specific traits, or specific elements, in a student's work. In other words, the assessor uses an analytic rubric for the purpose of assessing and identifying the individual components of a student's product or performance. So each of these criteria is scored, individually. We can compare that to the use of a holistic rubric, which is a more general rubric, and provides an overview of the overall level of achievement.

The analytic rubric, in contrast, is much more specific, and it examines each of the specific areas in a much more detailed fashion. An analytic rubric then, is going to outline all of those specific criteria that need to be met. And for this reason, they're a great fit in competency-based education because they allow the assessor to measure all of these specific elements, as students progress towards their demonstration of mastery of a concept, or a skill, or a competency. We can track all of these varying aspects as students work towards mastery.

So here's an example of an analytic rubric that actually is not formatted in the more traditional grid form. This is a more general style of an analytic rubric where the specific criteria are laid out, but the levels of performance are not outlined at each numerical value.

This rubric is in the form of a grid. The specific criteria are listed down the left column, and the numerical scale that outlines the varying proficiency levels, appears across the top row. So each cell in this particular analytic rubric does, indeed, indicate a description of the specific level of competency that needs to be demonstrated. So for example, in the element of spoken conversation pronunciation, a student would earn a grade in this category of Fair if their performance contained several pronunciation errors that impacted understanding.

So we can see that an analytic rubric definitely is more complex than a holistic rubric. What would be some of the benefits of implementing analytic rubrics? Well first of all, analytic rubrics simply provide more specific feedback. This helps us to pinpoint both the strengths and the weaknesses that are displayed in each student's product or performance. This isn't just a picture of overall performance assigned a single numerical score, but all of those various criteria, or individual elements, are outlined.

Also, in an analytic rubric, different criteria can actually be assigned differing weights. This can help to demonstrate the relative importance of each of those aspects or traits. So looking back at the previous rubric that was in the grid style, maybe I want the spoken conversation to be a weighted more heavily than the written script and the menu that students are producing as part of this French cafe project. So here, instead of assigning just one point to each of these elements, I might assign a weight of two points.

Just as there are some benefits of using analytic rubrics, there are also some potential disadvantages. Namely, analytic rubrics take more time to create, and also take more time to use, than holistic rubrics do. Furthermore, an analytic rubric might be more difficult for students to understand and interpret.

Another potential issue is that the results may be inconsistent. Unless you create a clearly defined description of each of those specific points in your analytic rubric, different assessors using the rubric may come up with different results. In fact, even if clear descriptors are present, different assessors may result in assigning different scores for the same product or performance.

If you do decide that an analytic rubric is the best choice for your students or your assessment, what are the steps that you might take in creating an analytic rubric? First, you want to list the criteria of good work. What are the traits or dimensions that would be exemplified in a good sample of student work? Then you need to outline the levels of performance for each of the criteria, and then assign descriptions or numbers to each of these levels.

Next, you need to assign weighted points to each of these elements. You might weight every single element with the same number of points, but you also might assign varying points based on varying levels of importance or significance. Then you'll want to locate exemplars for each of the different categories. Not only can these exemplars be used by assessors to help them match student performances or products to the varying levels of performance, but students can also benefit from seeing these exemplars as they begin to work on their own product or performance.

So when using an analytic rubric, here are some helpful tips. First of all, an analytic rubric is the best fit when you want to provide your students with detailed and specific feedback about both their strengths and their weaknesses. This specific feedback can help students to improve their future performance.

For example, in a competency-based environment, we know that one of the design principles of CBE is that students should be provided with multiple attempts to demonstrate proficiency. So if we are implementing that philosophy and allowing students another attempt at demonstrating proficiency, then using an analytic rubric when we evaluate their performance on their first try, is going to provide them with that specific information that is going to help them do better the second time around.

Here's another, more specific example. While sometimes in my French classroom I may choose to assign scores to students' conversations using a holistic rubric. There might be other times when I want to actually use an analytic rubric that is going to pinpoint, for my students, their strengths and weaknesses, as I listen and watch for all of the varying skills that they should be demonstrating.

And here's another example. This time, actually, from physical education. I know that some teachers in my district have used a really neat app on the iPad to record video of students as they perform skills such as swinging a golf club, or swinging a baseball bat. In this case, an analytic rubric could be used to help identify the specific elements that the physical education teacher is looking for in the golf swing, or in the swing of the baseball bat. The student, then, could use the results of this analytic rubric to really focus on the skills that they need to be practicing, more than others.

In this tutorial, we looked at an overview of analytic rubrics, and then we discussed their benefits and their potential disadvantages. You learned how to create an analytic rubric step by step, and I shared some tips for implementing this type of rubric into your classroom.

So now it's your turn to stop and reflect. Can you identify an upcoming educational activity or assessment that might benefit from the use of an analytic rubric?

For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The Additional Resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Using Analytic Rubrics"

(00:00 - 00:20) Introduction

(00:21 - 03:00) Overview of Analytic Rubrics

(03:01 - 04:08) Benefits

(04:09 - 04:55) Disadvantages

(04:56 - 06:00) Creating Analytic Rubrics

(06:01 - 07:55) Tips

(07:56 - 08:12) Review

(08:13 - 08:44) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Authentic Assessment Toolbox 

This toolbox provides directions and examples on how to create an analytic rubric. The steps are clear and easy to follow.

Analytic vs. Holistic Rubrics 

This site from Teacher Vision provides a clear overview of analytic and holistic rubrics. Additionally, the site explains how the two types of rubrics differ and the purpose of each.