Home' Teacher : July 2010 Contents 38 TEACHER JUNE/JULY 2010
rubrics designed to support graded
assessments be validated as per the Aus-
tralian Quality Training Framework
She rridan Maxwell is a Senior Educ ator,
Curriculum and Project Design , in the
Science, Engineering and Health Office
at RMIT University, Melbourne. This is
an edited version of her research report,
'Using r ubrics to support graded a ssess-
ment in a compete ncy-based environ -
ment.' The research is the result of a
National Ce ntre for Vocational Educ ation
Research Community of Practice scholar -
ship that aim s to build researcher c apacity
in the VET sector.
To read the full version, visit
Gillis, S. & Griffin, P. (2005). Principles
underpinning graded a ssessment in VET:
A critique of prevailing perceptions. Inter-
national Jour nal of Training Research.
Mayer, E. (1992). Employment-related
Key Competencies: A proposal for consul-
tation . Melbourne: Australian Educ ation
Council and Ministers of Vocational
Education, Employment and Training.
Mitchell, J., Chappell, C . , Bateman, A. &
Roy, S. (2005). Complexities and oppor-
tunities: A discussion paper on critical
issues in teaching, learning and a ssess-
ment in vocation al education and train -
ing. Consortium Research Program.
What do teachers say?
SHERRIDAN MAXWELL USED AN ACTION-RESEARCH MODEL SO THAT THOSE INVOLVED IN THE
RESEARCH PROCESS COULD DEVELOP NEW PRACTICE-RELATED KNOWLEDGE AND MOVE INTO
NEW DIRECTIONS OF WORKING, THROUGH THE ACTION-RESEARCH CYCLES OF OBSERVING,
REFLECTING, ACTING, EVALUATING AND MODIFYING. SHE WORKED WITH TEACHERS IN THE
DIPLOMA OF VET PRACTICE PROGRAM. HERE'S HOW TWO DESCRIBED THE EXPERIENCE OF
DESIGNING AND USING RUBRICS AS PART OF THEIR SUITE OF ASSESSMENT TOOLS.
As a teacher, I've been able to teach rather
than 'wing it.' I now have a concrete tool to
assess from. It has been good to show how
it's possible to make a tool that is reproduc-
ible, that is valid and not subjective, a tool
that ensures uniformity across assessors. It's
fairer and more objective.
The rubric informs assessment expecta-
tions; it enables the students to meet the bar
and excel if they want to. Some teachers
don't like to show the bar -- that is, teach-
ing the way we were taught -- and may not
understand assessment; they are just 'mark-
ing.' The rubric is a better way to assess;
rather than just mark. (The student) is look-
ing at the performance descriptor (rather)
than the score.
Building a rubric was not all that difficult
to do; the biggest obstacle is those (teach-
ers) who don't use them and go back to old
models (of assessment), not understanding
the rationale behind rubrics.
The concept of using a rubric provided me
with a resource and provided the students
with a clearer guide to their learning experi-
ence, rather than the subject being created
in the moment and going off track and leav-
ing the training package intent. Before using
a rubric, I had an assignment and students
going off track; I tried to make improve-
ments and was ignored. The first rubric I
developed allowed for feedback and reflec-
tion of where the students were. It shifted
the goal posts and gave the students a clear
indication of where they were going. For the
students, there was a shift to being com-
The initiation into rubrics has been
restitution, an after-the-fact/just-in-time
device that has allowed me to get back on
track, and the students ended up producing
a plan (the assessment task) that satisfied
the requirements of the training package.
The rubric very quickly and clearly showed
the students where they were, currently, in
the development of their project, and where
they needed to get to. The rubric shifted
the students' thinking, so it was a powerful
tool, a brilliant support for teachers and the
students, in black and white; we all know
what is required.
I had used a wiki for com munication
and guidance throughout the project and
found that it was largely ignored; however,
the rubric in this instance was a stronger
tool. I was able to describe the reflective and
cooperative elements to be developed in the
project. The rubric was able to show the
requirements that each student needed as
evidence of their input and engagement.
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