Same yardstick, different results: efficacy of rubrics in science education assessment

Keywords: assessment of learning, rubrics, science education, assessment for learning


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.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Erasmos Charamba, University of the Witwatersrand

School of Education


Zeidler, D. L. (2014). Socioscientific issues as a curriculum emphasis: Theory, research, and practice. Handbook of Research on Science Education, Vol. II, 711–740. doi:

Wylie, E. C., Lyon, C. J. (2015). The fidelity of formative assessment implementation: Issues of breadth and quality. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 22 (1), 140–160. doi:

Andrade, H.; Andrade H., Cizek, G. (Eds.) (2010). Students as the definitive source of formative assessment: Academic Self-assessment and the self-regulation of learning. Handbook of formative assessment. New York: Routledge, 90–105.

Campbell, T., McKenna, T. J. (2016). Important Developments in STEM Education in the United States: Next Generation Science Standards and Classroom Representations of Localized Scientific Activity. K-12 STEM Education, 2 (4), 91–97.

Al-Rabai, A. (2014). Rubrics revisited. International Journal of Education and Research, 2 (5), 5–16.

Jonsson, A., Lundahl, C., Holmgren, A. (2015). Evaluating a large-scale implementation of assessment for learning in Sweden. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy, and Practice, 22 (1), 104–121. doi:

Brookhart, S. M. (2013). How to create and use rubrics for formative assessment and grading. Alexandria: ASCD.

Butler, D. L., Schnellert, L.; Cleary, T. (Ed.) (2015). Success for students with learning disabilities: What does self-regulation have to do with it? Self-regulated learning interventions with at-risk youth: Enhancing adaptability, performance, and well-being being. Washington: APA Press, 89–111. doi:

Olsson, K., Balgopal, M., Levinger, N. (2015). How Did We Get Here? Teaching Chemistry with a Historical Perspective. Journal of Chemical Education, 92 (11), 1773–1776. doi:

Antoniou, P., James, M. (2014). Exploring formative assessment in primary school classrooms: Developing a framework of actions and strategies. Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Accountability, 26 (2), 153–176. doi:

Physical Sciences Grade 10 to 12 CAPS Document (2011). Department of Basic Education Pretoria: CAPS Document. DBE.

Charamba, E. (2020). Translanguaging in a multilingual class: a study of the relation between students’ languages and epistemological access in science. International Journal of Science Education, 42 (11), 1779–1798. doi:

Brown, G. T., Harris, L. R.; McMillan, J. H. (Ed.) (2013). Student self-assessment. SAGE handbook of research on classroom assessment. Thousand Oaks: SAGE, 367–393. doi:

Panadero, E., Romero, M. (2014). To rubric or not to rubric? The effects of self-assessment on self-regulation, performance, and self-efficacy. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 21 (2), 133–148. doi:

Koul, R., Verma, G., Nargund-Joshi, V. (2019). Science Education in India – Philosophical, Historical, and Contemporary Conversations. Springer. doi:

Panadero, E, Alonso-Tapia, J., Huertas, J (2014). Rubrics vs. self-assessment scripts: effects on first-year university students’ self-regulation and performance. Journal for the Study of Education and Development, 37 (1), 149–183. doi:

Andrade, H. L., Du, Y., Mycek, K. (2010). Rubric‐referenced self‐assessment and middle school students’ writing. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 17 (2), 199–214. doi:

Brookhart, S. M., Chen, F (2014). The quality and effectiveness of descriptive rubrics. Educational Review, 67 (3), 343–368. doi:

Hardy, I., Melville, W. (2019). Professional learning as policy enactment: The primacy of professionalism. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27 (90). doi:

Department of Basic Education (2014). Physical Sciences School- Based Assessment Exemplars CAPS Grade 12 Learner Guide. Pretoria: DBE.

Statistics SA (2011). Main Place: Soweto Census 2011.

Grinker, D., Gorelik, B. (Eds.) (2014). Inside Soweto: Memoir of an Official 1960s–1980s. Johannesburg: Eastern Enterprises.

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. London: Sage.

Glᾰser, J., Laudel, G. (2010). Life with or Without Coding: Two Methods for Early Stage Data Analysis in Qualitative Research Aiming at Casual Explanations. Qualitative social research, 14 (2).

Charamba, E. (2020). Pushing linguistic boundaries: translanguaging in a bilingual Science and Technology classroom. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 1–15. doi:

Charamba, E., Zano, K. (2019). Effects of translanguaging as an intervention strategy in a South African Chemistry classroom, Bilingual Research Journal, 42 (3), 291–307. doi:

Hafner, J. C., Hafner, C., Patti, M. (2003). Quantitative Analysis of the Rubric as an Assessment Tool: An Empirical Study of Student Peer-Group Rating. International Journal of Science Education, 25 (12), 1509–1528. doi:

Andrade, H., Du, Y., Wang, X. (2008). Putting rubrics to the test: The effect of a model, criteria generation, and rubric-referenced self-assessment on elementary school students’ writing. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practices, 27 (2), 3–13. doi:

Marzano, R. J. (2009). The Art and Science of Teaching/Six steps to better vocabulary instruction. Teaching for the 21st Century, 67 (1), 83–84.

👁 25
⬇ 21
How to Cite
Charamba, E., & Dlamini-Nxumalo, N. (2022). Same yardstick, different results: efficacy of rubrics in science education assessment. EUREKA: Social and Humanities, (4), 82-90.
Social Sciences