Co-Authors

Jinrong Li, Georgia Southern University

Track

Research Proposal / Learning Theories and Pedagogy

Proposal Abstract

Even when faculty clarify evaluation criteria through the use of rubrics, students often interpret and apply the criteria differently from faculty (Li and Lindsey, 2015). This can be particularly true for writing assignments. This presentation explores a new methodology for improving student understanding of quality writing across disciplines and genres. It describes initial findings of a mixed-method research study designed to test the efficacy of key word rubrics – rubrics that consist solely of essential descriptive terms rather than detailed criteria. The presenters will share preliminary data on the effectiveness of this methodology and its potential for application across disciplines.

Proposal Description

Faculty across disciplines increasingly use rubrics to share assessment criteria with students. Yet research shows that these attempts at transparency fail when students interpret and apply criteria differently from faculty (Li and Lindsey 2015). Wilson (2007) asserted that far from helping students improve as writers, rubrics were a liability because their feedback was overly generic. Studies such as Covill's (2012) show that longer, more detailed rubrics do not necessarily result in greater student success. Work by McRae (1996) contends that the language inherent in all rubrics, whether general or highly specific, means that rubrics repeatedly fall short in helping students understand and apply standards for quality writing. In some cases, this is because the criteria are rigidly assignment-specific. In others, transferability is compromised because terms are inaccurately understood by students. Instructors typically strive for referential language in rubrics (language close to the dictionary meaning) because the more referential the language, the less possibility there is for misinterpretation. Yet studies show, in rubrics, what is intended as referential language is frequently used as representational (language with multiple meanings and interpretations) (McRae, 1996). How can we explain writing assessment criteria and standards more effectively so that students understand how to identify quality writing across assignments and disciplines? This presentation shares the preliminary findings of an ongoing study testing the use of key word rubrics – an approach developed by the presenter that emphasizes both referential and representational meanings to build competence in the language of assessment. Following an overview of the project, attendees will briefly practice some of the same techniques used in the study to identify quality writing followed by discussion of how this strategy may be adapted for use in other courses.

Session Format

Presentation Session

Location

Room 1

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

 
Mar 31st, 11:00 AM Mar 31st, 11:45 AM

I Like It, But Is It Good? Identifying Quality Writing

Room 1

Even when faculty clarify evaluation criteria through the use of rubrics, students often interpret and apply the criteria differently from faculty (Li and Lindsey, 2015). This can be particularly true for writing assignments. This presentation explores a new methodology for improving student understanding of quality writing across disciplines and genres. It describes initial findings of a mixed-method research study designed to test the efficacy of key word rubrics – rubrics that consist solely of essential descriptive terms rather than detailed criteria. The presenters will share preliminary data on the effectiveness of this methodology and its potential for application across disciplines.