Rubrics vs. Feedback: What’s the Difference

  • What is the role of rubrics in your classroom?
  • How are rubrics different than feedback?

I had an interesting discussion yesterday that has me thinking about these questions, and I am curious what all of you think. This person said that he is not sure he believes in rubrics any more because students get them back and do not know what it is they need to do to improve. So if they don’t have clear indicators (for instance, transitions are unclear), students walk away unclear how to grow from the experience.

The point I made is that rubrics are to create an ability to put a grade in the gradebook, while the feedback we give students creates a place for growth. The feedback I give my students may or may not be on the rubric when I hand back a piece of writing. Feedback creates a space for relearning, redoing, and quite possibly rewriting, while a rubric is a grade. I’m curious what your thoughts are about this?

I have a friend who I talked to today who teaches at a different school who told me how she has a gradeless classroom. She sets up her gradebook with 50% completion/in-process grades and 50% growth. She has a portfolio conference with students at the end of the semester to decide on their growth grade together. She gives students a ton of feedback both in conferences as well as on their writing.

She said that it gets tricky with those students who wait until the last minute to do assignments…but isn’t this true any way? Don’t those students struggle to turn things in no matter what we do to help them?

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