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Using Analytic Rubrics

Using Analytic Rubrics

Author: Kathleen Johnson

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

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Source: Digital Access Key Image; Morgue File;

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Today, we're going to look at using analytic rubrics. And for today's lesson, I've chosen a quote by Aristotle, which states, "What we learn to do, we learn by doing." By the end of the lesson today, you are going to be able to explain the features of an analytic rubric. You'll be able to review some of the advantages and disadvantages of using analytic rubrics, and you'll be able to understand the process of creating an analytic rubric.

So, first, let's go ahead and take a look at what analytic rubrics are. In an analytic rubric, you are going to find a grid, where the criteria that you are grading your student on is listed usually on the left, and then the levels of performance are listed across the top. Then, within the cells that are created on this grid, you will find the descriptions to really help ensure that the student is well-informed.

It's important to note that with in this analytic rubric, teachers will then evaluate very specific traits within the student work. And then you're able to score, individually, each element of the criteria. And each individual score helps to relate to the entire score as a whole.

Now, they're often used as a way to guide the student work as well. So they can be used to help students kind of review overall achievement, as well as dig deeply in and examine certain areas very closely so that they can get that specific criteria that they need to meet within each area. It's also important to note that analytic rubrics flow right into competency-based education components, because the assessor using the rubric is measuring a student's specific progress towards a specific competency.

What I'd like to do right now is go ahead and take you through some examples of what analytic rubrics can look like so that you get a feel for what those look like in practice. So here is the first analytic rubric that I'm going to show you, and it's very small right now. You're not going to be able to read it. That's because I want to show you what it looks like on the whole.

You'll notice in this one-- and we're looking at the six traits of writing and a analytic rubric that focuses in on each of those six traits. You'll notice that there's quite a lot going on across the top, going all the way from exemplary down to beginning. And then you'll notice, along the left side, we'll see each of those six traits.

Now what I'm going to do is zoom in, and we're going to focus in just on one, so that I can show you the way in which one would be assessed based on that area. So if I focus in here and I am looking at just the first area of ideas and content, what I'm seeing here is how well the student is able to express the main theme and then indicate the supporting details.

So when I see it at exemplary, what I'm noticing here is that their writing is exceptionally clear and focused. It is engaging, and it has that strong supporting detail. When we go down to five, we see that it's clear and focused, so we've dropped the exceptionally there. And it does have appropriate detail, but maybe not strong supporting detail.

When we go down to four, or proficient, we see that there is a main idea with some support, but it might be a little more general. Going down to three, we're noticing even more as dropping off. It tends to be a little more cloudy. Down to two, we might have the idea, but it's not really clear. And one, there really tends to lack that central idea.

This is a wonderful way of really helping to show the student what it is that they're exceeding at and what areas maybe need a little more improvement. Now I want to show you another example, also taking an analytical rubric for writing, but you'll notice this one is a little opposite. So we see the scores along this side, and we see the ideas along the top. Again, as I'm going back in, we see a lot of those elements.

But if I focus in maybe a little bit more over here, we're going to kind of see this is, in many ways, a little bit more detailed. When I get into each individual area, we're including a little bit more within topic development and organization and details. But we have fewer areas in which to rank that student.

Now that we've gotten to see just a couple of the different examples of analytic rubrics, let's talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages. One major advantage to analytic rubrics is that they tend to provide very useful and specific feedback. So if we are trying to help a student recognize their strengths and weaknesses, rather than just their overall performance, the analytic rubric is going to be the way to go.

Also, they tend to allow different criteria to be weighed differently. So, for example, if I were going back to one of those writing rubrics, I could have maybe weighted the grammar and usage much higher than I rated the ideas, or vice versa, depending on what I was emphasizing in my classroom for that particular unit.

Some of the disadvantages to using analytic rubrics are that it takes more time to create and to use, because you're having to make a lot more choices as you go through it. Also, analytic rubrics can be more difficult for students to interpret, so they might not always take the time to go through and understand and work with each individual element, because there's a whole lot to take in on a rubric like that. They're just bigger. They have way more information.

And it can be less consistent in the grading, because you're having to make many more choices. And we maybe would not always arrive at the same score for a similar given product or performance.

Now let's go ahead and take a look at some of the steps that are involved in creating an analytic rubric. When you start creating an analytic rubric, the first thing you're going to want to do is to identify the scoring criteria for your assessments. So what are some of the major criteria, the traits or the elements of the work, that you are going to judge each student's product on?

Next, you're going to want to define the levels of achievement for each criterion. So these two steps are very similar to a holistic rubric, only you're making a lot more choices, because you need to define what level one versus level four looks like for each individual criterion. Then you're going to determine the number of points or the weight that you're going to give within each criterion. And finally, you're going to select some of those exemplars for each scoring category. So maybe you could show one student's work that is a wonderful example of a four, or an exemplary, when it comes to the mechanics of it, but maybe a one when it comes to character development, if that were what you were assessing your students on.

Now, when we talk about what we're going to be using analytic rubrics for, we find that analytic rubrics tend to be most useful when the goal is to provide that very specific or detailed feedback so that students are really able to see where their relative strengths and weaknesses are when it came to a particular project. Also, you want to use those analytic rubrics when that feedback that you give is intended to improve a student's future performance.

So I believe that analytic rubrics are much more beneficial when we're talking about some of those formative assessments or the assessments that students will have the opportunity to retake, or where they will be doing another similar assessment, where they're going to want to use the feedback on how they did on this one to help enhance their work on the next one. So some examples of where I would use analytic rubrics, perhaps, over a holistic rubric would be, say, in my Comp class, so in my writing class, where I'm going to have students write three different papers. They might be three different types of papers, but I'm always going to want them to incorporate those elements of grammar.

So I might grade it differently or weight it differently on each paper, but I'm going to use that analytic rubric so students can take what I've shown them on the first paper and, ideally, apply it to their second and third. An analytic rubric would be really helpful when you're asking all students to create the same end product, but you really want to identify that they are focusing in on four or five major elements of that product. So if you're having students create a poster presentation and you want them to be graded on not only the content on the poster but the way the poster looks, you want all of that to be laid out, then you're going to want to do that.

Finally, analytic rubrics are really important when we're talking about wanting to weight the different elements of a particular project. So if you're, again, asking students to do a short video, but you want to make sure that the emphasis is put on the content of that video rather than their editing skills, perhaps you would weight the content more than that editing.

Now that we've reached the end of this lesson, you have been able to explain the features of analytic rubrics. You've been able to review some of the advantages and disadvantages of analytic rubrics, and you've been able to understand the process that you would go through to create an analytic rubric. Now that we've reached the very end of this lesson, I want you to take just a moment to reflect. Having looked at analytic rubrics in comparison to holistic rubrics, which one do you think would be the most beneficial type of rubric to use in your classroom?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you're going to find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Notes on "Using Analytic Rubrics"

(00:00-00:09) Intro

(00:10-00:24) Objectives

(00:25-01:55) Analytic Rubric Overview

(01:56-04:15) Sample Rubrics

(04:16-05:46) Analytic Rubric Advantages & Disadvantages

(05:47-08:57) Analytic Rubric Creation Process

(08:58-09:43) Review & Reflection

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.