Below is my generic grading rubric. I usually use it for written assignments like reflections or unit test open-response items, but it's easily modifiable for posters, presentations, and other products. The wording of each general description has been carefully crafted to make them as objective as possible. Of course they still require judgment (more about that below), but every student submission can fit into each category. I don't introduce the whole thing at once to students, and I save the letter/number grades for last.
Sometimes I assess different segments of a task separately. For a 2-part question that asks for information and analysis, you can score each part separately: "Fine" job with the information, but "Incomplete" analysis. For mastery, the student only needs to re-attempt the analysis portion.
An earlier version had only four columns; I added the "Unclear" level for those in-between pieces that are "fine" in some ways, but not quite good enough to show solid understanding. Without it I wasted some time agonizing between the "B" and "D" levels for student work. After using this rubric for a full year, I see no need to add an additional level.
You can click the table below to open a GoogleDoc link.
[answers farther down the page]
More briefly on the other examples:
- #2 is "Not Ready" and yes this was an actual submission. We could debate a little bit about whether the details about cows, flies, and small doorways show "Incomplete" understanding, but the utter lack of reference to part 2 is the clincher. At least he got to be with his friends!
- #3 is "Advanced" although of course it is not perfectly written. This helps students to understand the emphasis on content over style. The thoughtful connections put this paragraph over the top like the comparison between a general store and Target, and the contrast of workers and farmers.
- #4 is "Fine" even though it is longer and more clearly organized into separate paragraphs. Clearly this student absorbed a lot, remembered tiny details, and got grossed out by the flies in the kitchen. We just don't see the deeper reflection that appears in #3.
Hmmmmmm...What else can or should I describe about this system? This is a pretty long post so I should wrap it up here.