Recently, I was privileged to see the recommendations of  William (Bill) Tierney on the top education blogs.  (Tierney is the Co-director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California.)  He (among others) writes the blog, 21st scholar.  The blogs are actually the recommendation of his research assistant Daniel Almeida.  These are the recommendations:

  1. Free Technology for Teachers

  2. MindShift

  3. Joanne Jacobs

  4. Teaching Tolerance

  5. Brian McCall’s Economics of Education Blog

What criteria were used?  What criteria would you use?  Some criteria that come to mind are interest, readability, length, frequency.  But I’m assuming that they would be your criteria (and you know what assuming does…)

If I’ve learned anything in my years as an evaluator, it is to make assumptions explicit.  Everyone comes to the table with built in biases (called cognitive biases).  I call them personal and situational biases (I did my dissertation on those biases). So by making your assumptions explicit (and thereby avoiding personal and situational biases), you are building a rubric because a rubric is developed from criteria for a particular product, program, policy, etc.

How would you build your rubric? Many rubrics are in chart format, that is columns and rows with the criteria detailed in those cross boxes.  That isn’t cast in stone.  Given the different ways people view the world–linear, circular, webbed–there may be others, I would set yours up in the format that works best for you.  The only thing to keep in mind is be specific.

Now, perhaps you are wondering how this relates to evaluation in the way I’ve been using evaluation.  Keep in mind evaluation is an everyday activity.  And everyday, all day, you perform evaluations.  Rubrics formalizes the evaluations you conduct–by making the criteria explicit.  Sometimes you internalize them; sometimes you write them down.  If you need to remember what you did the last time you were in a similar situation, I would suggest you write them down. rubric cartoon No, you won’t end up with lots of little sticky notes posted all over.  Use your computer.  Create a file.  Develop criteria that are important to you.  Typically, the criteria are in a table format; an x by x form.  If you are assigning number, you might want to have the rows be the numbers (for example, 1-10) and the columns be words that describe those numbers (for example, 1 boring; 10 stimulating and engaging).  Rubrics are used in reviewing manuscripts, student papers, assigning grades to activities as well as programs.  Your format might look like this:generic rubric

Or it might not.  What other configuration have you seen rubrics?  How would you develop your rubric?  Or would you–perhaps you prefer a bunch of sticky notes.  Let me know.

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