NEP-2020 has now been in operation for last 3 years, aiming to completely transform the education system in our country. Apart from appropriate curriculum, engaging pedagogy, student support, policy lays emphasis on developing and using innovative assessment methodologies.
The policy document empowers all stakeholders including institutions, faculty as well as learners to innovate on themes of curriculum and pedagogy but at the same time encourages faculty to transform assessment and evaluation process.
Under the policy assessment methods should be scientific, designed to continuously improve learning and verify the application of knowledge. Accordingly, emphasis should be on continuous formative assessment to ensure process value addition and the achievement of pre-set goals of each programme/course.
It is pertinent to refer to in this context to the guidelines issued by the UGC (December 2022), ‘Guidelines for Innovative Pedagogical Approaches & Evaluation Reforms’ also underscore the significance of criterion-based grading based on learning outcomes to measure the attainment of each criterion, making the assessment more meaningful.
Thus, Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) have to adapt criterion-based assessment that ensures holistic development and ensures achievement of the desired learning outcomes. Importance is to be given to continuous and comprehensive assessment.
There are a variety of assessment tools to be explored and put in practice. Rubric is one of the modern criterion-based assessment methodologies that can be adopted to verify competencies, concept development and critical thinking.
The policy document also supports it, “… design and implement assessment frameworks encompassing design of competencies, portfolio, rubrics, standardized assessments, and assessment analytics”.
A rubric is an assessment tool used to access the performance of learners on certain specific set criteria and standards. It is a framework that sets norms for different levels of performance and describes what performance should be at each level.
This assessment accesses the learners on set objectives and the quality of their responses within the set standards. Rubric is very effective in assessing learners in systemic, consistent and reasonable manner.
With the ever changing examination and evaluation systems getting more transparent and to generate evidence based grading in evaluation, there is definitely the need to incorporate rubrics in assessment.
A typical rubric is a grid like structure which commonly includes; dimension, level of performance, scores and descriptors which are finally used to grade the assessment.
Dimension refers to the aspect that is to be measured and it clearly gives the meaning of the parameter on which the learner is being assessed. Each category gives the number of points to be scored. A variety of criteria-mix is used depending of the type of work that is being assessed.
Based on application some instances are; organization, language, analysis, conclusion, number of sources, bibliography/webliography being used for a term paper assigned to a learner. Levels of performance describe the different performance levels, these determine the outcomes which have been achieved and will serve as benchmark for consistent, objective assessment and constructive feedback to the student.
This actually provides response to the student what is expected to be achieved. Levels of performance must have descriptors as these help in achieving objectivity. These descriptors explain easily the scores which have been achieved.
Levels of performance are given either in terms of scores or as words like excellent, good and poor or adjectives like exemplary, accomplished, developing, beginning or for a simple rubric it is Yes/No or Complete/Incomplete. Scores give the values used to rate each criterion combined with the level of performance.
It is, therefore, very much clear that there are two key benefits of developing and using rubrics these are; feed-forward and feedback. When we first share rubric for a given assignment with the learners they get a clear picture what is expected from them and later evaluation as per this rubric makes it more objective.
The advantages of using rubric for assessment is that learners plan their assessment according to the descriptors and they have a clear idea what is projected and what is the basis of grade awarded to them.
The evaluator grades according to criteria without any bias and each criterion is graded separately providing targeted feedback to student on each parameter to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, there are challenges like designing of a perfect rubric for each type of given assignment, sometimes it can limit the creativity and responses can be predictive. However, in the present times of artificial intelligence (AI), there are different tools available which help in designing rubrics, even Google classroom offers option of assessment based on rubrics.
Rubric is an efficient tool for objective, consistent and transparent assessment. It makes students accountable for their performances and the feedback given will facilitate discussion that will help to improve performance. It gives rationalized grades to every student and serves good for documentation and accreditation purposes.
To conclude, this is the high time to deliberate upon innovative assessment tools like rubrics so that the faculty is well prepared before the onset of forth coming academic session.
The HEIs accordingly should organize workshops to familiarize the faculty and learners about this innovative assessment mechanism.
Dr. Shah Ubaid-ullah is Assistant Professor (Biotechnology) at Govt Degree College, Pulwama.