Same yardstick, different results: efficacy of rubrics in science education assessment
Assessments have become integral to today's teaching and learning. Within the world of assessments, there are two paramount ideologies at work: assessments for learning and assessments of learning. The latter are typically administered at the end of a unit or grading period and evaluate a student’s understanding by comparing their achievement against a class, nationwide benchmark, or standard. The former assesses a student’s understanding of a skill or lesson during the learning and teaching process. Assessment for learning enables teachers to collect data that will help them adjust their teaching strategies, and students to adjust their learning strategies. In order to achieve this goal, teachers can make use of several assessment tools, such as concept maps, oral presentations, peer review, portfolios, examinations, written reports, and rubrics. The use of rubrics not only makes the teacher’s standards and result grading explicit but can give students a clear sense of what the expectations are for a high level of performance on a given science assignment. In this study, quantitative data were collected from tasks, assessed by 10 teachers who were purposefully sampled; while qualitative data were collected from interview responses of the same teachers to explore the extent of uniformity in the use of rubrics. The researchers compared and analyzed the different scores, allocated by the respective participants, and analyzed the qualitative data using qualitative data analysis. The study suggests that if interpreted and used well, rubrics support learning by enabling an efficient, consistent, objective, and quick way of assessing students’ work thereby facilitating learning.
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