English 101 & 102
Simon Sangpukdee uses a rubric "to facilitate the highest order of thinking among [his] writing students" in English 101 and 102. In his Collaborative Rubric Assessment exercise, he distributes his grading rubric to the class and divides his students into groups of four or five. Showing the students the four evaluation criteria of "Purpose, Content, Organization, and Mechanics," Sangpukdee then asks students to divide the total one-hundred points for the assignment between the four evaluation criteria. Students come up with their group’s "point spread" before each group is asked to share their weighting of the rubric criteria and explain the reasons for their distribution. The class as a whole then votes on which of these student-generated "point spreads" Sangpukdee will use in evaluating their major paper assignments.
By placing the responsibility of how the grading rubric will be assessed on their shoulders, the students realize that they are ultimately responsible for their own learning in the class. Being responsible for their own learning ideally leads to them feeling empowered and hopeful when attempting to master their writing skill set.
Sangpukdee offers four reasons for asking students to share the responsibility of finalizing the grading rubric. First of all, he sees this activity as important to his efforts to create a collaborative learning environment in which students "see the value of learning from each other in addition to learning from the instructor." Secondly, students who are asked to assume some responsibility for determining the grading rubric should realize that they must take responsibility for their own learning. Third, the rubric activity helps students gain a "meta-awareness" of the choices they must constantly make as writers rather than dutifully following a prescribed model. Finally, the rubric activity gives grading a transparency and reminds students that "their assessment is based on a fair and systematic method."
Sangpukdee’s rubric activity draws on James Gee’s theory of discourse communities. Sangpukdee explains that such discourse communities are "groups of people that essentially form bonds through shared activities and actualize these activities through the practice of using very specific terminology." In his English 101 course, Sangpukdee uses the rubric activity "as a catalyst to instill upon the group a sense of identity not unlike a discourse community." Consequently, the rubric activity should strengthen student writing skills as well as achieve the goals of the learning-centered approach, especially helping students to take responsibility for their own learning.