Karen's Rubric

Karen's Rubric

by Karen Liska -
Number of replies: 6

This is a rubric for a reflective essay assignment. Students are expected to have read certain chapters of their textbook that outline developmental theories. The students are then to reflect on their own thoughts or experiences and combine those with the theories from their book. The goal is to have students apply the theories to their practice and reflect on what they have learned.

I adapted this rubric from two other rubrics that were previously written. One of the challenges I had was writing language that would evaluate the subjective nature of an assignment. Learning is so personal and individual, so I would want to ensure that on one hand the student was meeting the learning objective, but also that they were able to apply the concept.

 I would like to make this a one-point rubric. I think that would allow me to provide that more specific feedback and where the student might improve their writing or where I could pose questions to continue to encourage the student to critically think.

We provide our students with a letter grade at the end of a course and students attain points along the way. This particular assignment is out of 15 marks or 15% of the final grade. I add the mark breakdown as an added box to help students focus their time. For example, a box worth 1 mark is minor, whereas a box worth 7 marks is where the focus should be. These are usually for demonstrating the concepts or learning outcomes. The students know that if a box is worth, for example 5 marks, that I am looking for 5 good points to demonstrate the concept/learning objective.

 I question I do have that is probably beyond the scope of the course is the overall idea of evaluation. I struggle a bit with the idea of assigning a letter or number grade to a student. If the student has met the learning outcomes or is able to apply or demonstrate them in their practice, then that should be a pass. If a student is not able to, then a fail. There was a comment on the discussion board about students who sometimes think that because they did the minimal requirements they feel they should receive an A. I thought this was an interesting point and am now pondering it further, especially after watching the video shared about effective feedback. I am thinking perhaps the one-point rubric is the way to go in these situations? I thank you and welcome everyone else’s thoughts!  



Mastering Expectations

Developing Towards Expectations

Emerging to Meet Expectations


Introduction paragraph

Clearly and succinctly defines the topic and direction with insight.

Attempts to define the topic and provide insight, but requires more clarity.

Fails to define the topic and direction of the essay.



Body paragraphs

Exceptionally articulates/describes how topic can influence childhood development. Clearly and specifically connects to relevant developmental concepts, theory, and research. Relevant personal experiences and informal observations are included demonstrating solid understanding of topic and impact.

Reflection illustrates the pro/con argument with clarity and in-depth analysis.

References some developmental stages/theories, but connection to influence is unclear.

Begins to provide a reflection of own experiences; struggles with depth, connection and clarity.

Limited illustration of the pro/con argument and analysis needs more breadth and depth.


Does not reference developmental stages or theories.

Fails to describe personal experiences.

Reflection fails to illustrate the pro/con argument and lacks analysis.







Closing paragraph

Demonstrates high degree of ability to reflect on the current state of the issue and/or the future directions and/or what student has learned from the research.

Concisely summarizes the topic and supporting points.

Partially reflects on the current state of the issue and/or the future directions and/or what student has learned from the research.

Provides a brief summary of topic and a few main points. 

Fails to reflect on the current state of the issue and/or the future directions and/or what student has learned from the research.

Does not provide a summary of topic or main points of essay.





APA Citation

(1 mark for in-text citations, 1 mark for reference page)

Demonstrates ample in-text APA citations and formatting is correct.

References page is correct and included.

Demonstrates limited use of APA in-text citations. Some errors present in formatting of either/both in-text and reference entries.

Does not use APA in-text citations.

Reference page is incorrect/missing.




Writing Conventions

Less than 5 spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.

Readability flows over minor errors.

More than 5 spelling, grammar, punctuation, or paragraph errors.

Some errors distract readability.








In reply to Karen Liska

Re: Karen's Rubric

by Jacquie Harrison -

Thanks for being the first to submit, Karen! You've gotten us off to to a great start with your rubric.

Your rubric makes the expectations clear to students in so many areas. I can see how it would provide valuable feedback for both the teacher and the learner on the students performance. And, it can guide students on how to improve. 

I know what you mean about having to grade students! I can see how your rubric gives lot of formative feedback.

For giving a grade, I'm wondering what the interpretation of the score is. What is a passing grade? Would it be possible for a student to pass the assessment if they score in the developing section in many of the criteria? 

I love the idea of creating a single point rubric. The are great for giving qualitative and descriptive formative feedback to students. They are also really good for student self assessment. 

In reply to Jacquie Harrison

Re: Karen's Rubric

by Karen Liska -

Thank you so much for your feedback. I appreciate it! 

Yes, I was thinking and do struggle with your question about if students could still achieve a passing grade even if they scored in the developing or lower section of the rubric.
For our courses we do require a 60% as a passing grade. Larger assignments worth 30% do not often run in to this issue of potentially passing a student based on points. 

I am challenged to find an authentic and consistent way to judge student's subjective work. The goal is for them to meet and demonstrate the learning objectives of the course, yet not every course is a pass or fail. We put out grades based on letters or numbers. 

I thought perhaps moving to more of a one point rubric might help with that, however I find myself challenged then to assign a number or letter grade without very specific marking points. Any insights are welcome!!  

In reply to Jacquie Harrison

Re: Karen's Rubric

by Doug Strable -

Hello Karen, 

I agree the single point rubric is an excellent way of showing the expected performance.  A simple pass or not with green light feedback would fit nicely with the evaluation of an assignment with the goal of applying their learning to their practice. 

The items mentioned in the "Area" section you have now could be combined into a single "Communication" or "Structure "section to allow expansion of the evaluation modules to include sections such as "Knowledge of the Subject"  "Application of Theories," "Overall Balance" and APA Formatting.  

My final thesis paper was assessed as a single point rubric, and the feedback of a few sentences clearly outlined the reasons why the paper met the requirements of the course -- I valued very much the instruction about the positive feedback and the mentorship on areas I could focus on in future projects. 

As for assigning grades - you might want to have two assessment criteria - one for structure and one for application.


In reply to Doug Strable

Re: Karen's Rubric

by Karen Liska -

Thank you Doug! This is really good food for thought. Interesting idea about two criteria for structure and application. I will have to reflect on that more and see if there could be a place for that within a one point rubric. The more I hear and see about them, the more interested I am in giving that green light feedback. I do something similar already where students receive what I posted above with their assigned grade and also receive comments either within their original assignment or as a paragraph at the end of the rubric. Moving to one point makes so much more sense. I am already thinking even within the one point and having those two criteria that the application could be weighted more than the structure for certain assignments, which would allow for a more authentic assessment and not run the risk of having a student pass without actually meeting the learning objectives. All very interesting discussion! Thank you!  

In reply to Karen Liska

Re: Karen's Rubric

by Leonne Beebe -


Your rubric clearly outlines the expectations and describers for the three sections of the essay, with the body being the most important.

One question: How would you give a score with your three levels of competency?  How would you give a score out of two?  Would the emerging level receive a 0, the developing level receive a one, and the mastering level a two?  How would you give a score out seven with the three levels of competency? At what number does the student move from emerging to developing to mastering?

I look forward to your revised rubric.

Out of confusion comes clarity.


In reply to Leonne Beebe

Re: Karen's Rubric

by Karen Liska -

Thank you Leonne for the great question! This has me reflecting and thinking some more. 

Yes, when something is out of 2 marks, the mastery level would be worth both marks, the middle worth 1 and the developing column worth a zero. For the section out of 7 marks, the students are aware they have three body paragraphs to write, each paragraph is worth 2 marks and 1 additional for overall clarity and connections. 

Putting specific points per section is something I have struggled with. On one hand this helps students identify where to spend most of their time, yet on the other hand does create some confusion between the levels. I have a hard time when the levels are open ended because I do not have a concrete or consistent way to judge the different increments. For example, a level B paper between 70 and 79%, how does that score out? What does a 75% look like in comparison to the 79%? How do you differentiate within the criteria box. What makes one student paper a 72 and another a 78 when there is not specific points. How do we justify to the student where we got the mark from? How do we stay accountable, objective, and transparent? 

I have always thought that to be objective and consistent that specific points were needed. With the points I can easily say to the student in this paragraph you gave me your experience, connection to theory, and analysis, there is your points. Or on similar assignments, a reflection out of 5, I am looking for 5 good ideas or moments of learning to be made. If a student only has 3, then it is very clear that is what they receive out of the 5. 

I really appreciate this discussion and welcome more comments/ideas. i am trying to figure this all out in my head to make it make sense!