Rubric Use Research Paper

Background Information
A rubric is a tool that streamlines the examination or evaluation process by unequivocally outlining the standards and/ or criteria to be employed in the evaluation of performance [1]. It is also a scoring guide comprising a precise and pre-determined performance criterion for evaluating performance [1]. In search of standardized evaluation parameters to facilitate objective assessment of performance the developed world has turned to rubric-led evaluation, a strategy that provides all candidates with a level playing field.

Statement of the Problem
Unlike in developed countries, the use of grading rubrics is a fairly new to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations, particularly as part of the educational system. The emergence of rubric use in the rest of the world warrants consideration of transition to use of rubrics from the stakeholders in the Saudi Arabian education sector, since majority of the elementary schools still use the conventional evaluation system.

Justification of the Study
Very little data is available on the impact of rubric use in Saudi Arabian schools is currently available. This paper seeks to review relevant literature on the use of rubrics, delving into its various applications and perceived benefits, to determine what the likely impact of their use will be in times to come. Impact of rubric use will be assessed along the lines of preferred type, student performance and motivation for both students and teachers, for the benefit of both groups (students and teachers).

The general objective of this study is to determine the likely impact of rubric use in Saudi Arabian Elementary School.

Specific Objectives include:
1. To determine the preferred type of rubrics among elementary school students in Saudi Arabia
2. To determine the effect of rubrics on performance among elementary school students in Saudi Arabia
3. To determine the effect of rubrics on motivation of students and teachers in Saudi Arabian elementary schools.

Research Questions
1. What is the preferred type of rubrics among elementary school students in Saudi Arabia?
2. What is the effect of rubrics on performance among elementary school students in Saudi Arabia?
3. What is the effect of rubrics on motivation of students and teachers in Saudi Arabian elementary schools?

The use of rubrics is expected to have a standardizing effect on the evaluation of student performance, with improvement in performance and motivation levels particularly among students, as seen in other settings where rubric use has been introduced.

Literature Review
Assessing the likely impact of rubrics entails looking into the applications they have in the educational sector, and evaluating how well-suited the rubrics are to their applied uses. Although it is entirely possible to borrow pre-existing rubrics for use (in the absence of any copyright infringements) in settings where none existed, these pre-existing rubrics may prove unsuitable outside their intended area of use. Being a new introduction in the education sector in Saudi Arabia, the use of rubrics would likely require the creation of rubrics applicable to this unique setting. As earlier mentioned, sets of pre-existing standards are put in place to facilitate objective assessment, and these standards would likely vary from one setting to another (developed world versus developing world, elementary school versus higher education, and so on). There are 4 basic steps that go into the creation of a rubric. First, the goals or purpose of the activity need to be identified in terms of measurable outcomes [1]. This step ensures that the scoring guide created is absolutely in line with the program’s objectives and the requirements set out for the task. These measurable outcomes must be expressed in terms of product characteristics or observable behavioral traits, and literary descriptions should be in clear, specific language devoid of ambiguity [1]. The second step is the identification of qualities that must be displayed or demonstrated in the work of the candidate being examined [1]. This step entails the identification of parameters for both the end-product and the process through which the product is arrived at. The third step is identifying the type of rubric to be utilized [3]. This step is carried out through tailoring the rubric type to the process and product decided upon in the second step. The fourth step is coming up with and defining the performance levels for the process and/ or product (such as poor, average, or excellent) using descriptions of the work and observable traits rather than judgmental views on the product/ process [1]. This step demands that points or marks are allocated to each performance level, to create a numerical (quantitative) and qualitative difference between the levels.

There are several types of rubrics in relation to their design and purpose. These types include: holistic, developmental, analytic, general, task-specific or meta-rubric [1]. A holistic rubric is made up of generalized descriptions of what performance levels are in the opinion of the developer [1]. These levels include ‘average’, ‘above average’ and ‘below average’. Holistic rubrics are appropriate for use when attempting to get a quick snapshot of the end-product, and when one dimension is enough to fully define the quality of work being assessed [2]. An analytic rubric facilitates the measurement of a particular entity against several varied criteria [1]. This type of rubric provides detailed feedback in the identification of strengths and weaknesses, assessment of complex skills or task performance, and can be used to facilitate self-assessment by candidates with regard to their understanding of the task and/ or their performance [2]. A developmental rubric facilitates the measurement of a particular entity in a continuum of stages [1]. General rubrics are made up of evaluation criteria that may be generalized for different tasks [2]. These rubrics may be used to evaluate candidates’ reasoning, end-product and skills, especially when the candidates are doing dissimilar tasks [2]. Task-specific rubrics are tailor-made for the assessment of a particular activity [2]. They provide specific information on knowledge level for each task and are useful when consistency in awarding of points is especially vital [2]. A meta-rubric is a rubric used to assess other rubrics [1]. It is made up of four elements: technical soundness, content, practicality and clarity [1]. The choice of type of rubric used or developed heavily relies on the intended purpose.

The impact that rubrics have had in other settings may guide what could be expected of them in their application in 4th, 5th and 6th grade in Saudi Arabia’s educational system if they are correctly applied. Proponents of rubric use have cited certain benefits attributable to the use of rubrics. Rubrics have been shown to be useful in quantifying the scholarly progress made by candidates being assessed, as well as in the modification of mentoring practice in response to these assessments [1]. Students have cited generally positive perceptions to rubric use, and these perceptions have been corroborated by teachers’ reports on the same [3]. Studies have shown that when students are informed of the use of rubrics and what the rubrics entail prior to assessment of competence in following instructions or performance of skills, they become more motivated to attain the pre-determined standards [4]. Availing the rubric to students helps them to know the performance level expected of them. Involving the students in creation of the rubrics has been shown to make the assignment more meaningful to them [2]. The use of rubrics has shown a wide array of benefits, in both summative (provision of a grade) and formative feedback (details that would improve future performance by showing the candidate where they went wrong and what was expected of them [2]. Rubrics have not only been used for students, but have successfully been used to assess performance of teachers of mathematics in terms of skills and content knowledge [1]. Rubrics may therefore be used to provide a holistic assessment of the educational sector, from students to their teachers, to evaluate at what point things may be going awry.

Study site: Four elementary schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Study design: cross-sectional, mixed method study (qualitative and quantitative)
Study variables:
Dependent: student performance and motivation levels, teacher motivation levels
Independent: use of rubrics
Study population: 4th, 5th and 6th grade students at 4 elementary schools in Riyadh
Data Collection Tool: semi-structured questionnaire

One trimester of school-based evaluation will be carried out in the conventional format. The subsequent trimester will be carried out employing use of rubrics in evaluation of performance. In half of the assessments, students will be involved in rubric construction. One half of the rubrics will be holistic in type, while the other half will be analytic. Thereafter, the performance of all students in the aforementioned grades for both trimesters will be averaged and compared. Simple semi-structured questionnaires will then be administered to both students and teachers, to elicit their feedback on the use of rubrics in assessment. The questionnaire will require bio-data (initials, grade, gender and school), graded questions (on the effects of use of rubrics) and close-ended questions on the type of rubric preferred. The graded questions will have a variety of 5 options (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree). These questions will obtain responses for how motivated students and teachers are by the use of rubrics, and how beneficial the process of involving students in rubric construction is.

The timeline for this study will be two trimesters of elementary schooling. It will be carried out in two phases, the control phase (first trimester) and the intervention phase (second trimester).

Results and Analysis
The academic outcomes for all students will be averaged at the end of each trimester. Quantitative analysis of the averages will be done using charts and tables for each distinct grade by gender, to determine the impact of use of rubrics on student performance. Preferred type of rubric will be assessed from questionnaire responses in a similar manner. Odds ratio and P values will be used to determine statistical significance of difference in performance, if any. Qualitative measures of motivation among students and teachers will be done thematically.

As opposed to checklists, properly constructed rubrics provide a progressive rating scale that is made up of pre-determined, scaled criteria for the assessment of performance or level of proficiency in skill. Rubrics provide guidelines that may be used to evaluate a work end-product on performance-based tasks. Various types of rubric are available to facilitate assessment of different educational and work-related scenarios, each tailor-made to evaluate performance according to the setting suitable to its use.

Various benefits have been documented from the use of rubrics in different settings. Well-constructed rubrics are easy to explain and use. These benefits include motivation of students to aspire towards the standards they have been made aware of, and the provision of both summative and formative feedback which are expected to improve performance in the long-run. For teachers, the rubrics provide a means through which their expectations regarding the performance of a task may be communicated. Rubrics facilitate the provision of objective, meaningful, reliable and valid feedback of student and teacher performance which the teachers and educational stakeholders can use to improve the sector in its entirety. Similar benefits are expected in the Saudi Arabian Educational sector.

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Works Cited
1. Hamdan, A. K. (Ed.). (2015). Teaching and learning in Saudi Arabia: Perspectives from higher education. Springer.
2. Zimmaro, D. M. (2004). Developing grading rubrics. Measurement and Evaluation Center: University of Texas, Austin. Ölçme ve Değerlendirme, 325.
3. Jonsson, A., & Svingby, G. (2007). The use of scoring rubrics: Reliability, validity and educational consequences. Educational research review, 2(2), 130-144.
4. Uddin, M. (2014). Impact of the Use of Rubrics on the Performance of Students (Doctoral dissertation, BRAC University).