Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A critical examination of rubric use for evaluating individual writing assignments in the undergraduate classroom
by Kelley, Katherine, M.A., Western Illinois University, 2010, 122; 1480134
Abstract (Summary)

Methods of assessing student writing along with scholars’ views of validity and reliability have shifted over the last sixty years, from multiple-choice grammar tests to essay exams to writing assignments graded with a rubric and recently to programmatic and individual portfolio assessment. Assessment scholars, WPAs, and college writing instructors try to find a balance between validity and reliability. This thesis focuses on the validity and reliability of analytic and holistic rubrics as assessment methods for individual writing assignments as well as explores the use of rubrics as a time-saving strategy and analyzes how saving time affects the feedback students receive.

The first part of the thesis traces the history of writing assessment from the 1950s to present and analyzes claims made by scholars regarding holistic and analytic rubrics. The second portion of the thesis includes a case study investigating rubric use in individual classrooms with two main research questions: (1) How did time affect an instructor’s decision to use (or not use) rubrics in the classroom? and (2) How has the individual’s pedagogical research affected his/her rubric decisions? Case-study participants did not confirm the time-saving benefit claims of analytic rubric proponents, but rather reported that general rubrics help keep them focused on goals of writing assignments and his/her own values in student writing. Participants reported completed minimal research in assessment or rubric pedagogy.

The case study also explores the adjustment of grades assigned by rubrics, based on Newkirk’s self-reporting and the impact of outside pressure to use trendy assessment methods. Portfolios are discussed as a current trend and offered as a solution to the reliability and validity issues of general rubric scored essays.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Otto, Peggy D.
Commitee: Baird, Neil, Mossman, Amy P.
School: Western Illinois University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 49/01M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Language arts, Educational evaluation, Higher education
Keywords: Analytic rubrics, Assessment, Holistic rubrics, Portfolio assessment, Rubric pedagogy
Publication Number: 1480134
ISBN: 978-1-124-17263-7
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