Natalie Ingalsbe: Designing Effective Rubrics for Student Success

Prof. Natalie Ingalsbe, a Professor at Georgia Southern University’s College of Arts and Humanities, utilizes peer assessment in her first-year English Composition courses with over 100+ students. While implementing peer review in English courses is a common practice found throughout academia, ensuring students do the process correctly in a larger classroom can be difficult. As a result, Prof. Ingalsbe uses Kritik to facilitate peer assessment for her large classes to supercharge the process, increase student engagement, and enable simple, high-quality rubric design that sets clear expectations for students. Allowing them to assess their peers and reflect on their work more effectively.

"When designing rubrics, it is important to think about what I [As an instructor]  expect to see as evidence that the student is engaging and following the criteria and competencies we want them to display through the assignment."

In this story, we will explore Prof. Ingalsbe’s best practices for designing effective rubrics for English courses and get a sneak peek into her assignments and rubric designs.

Download the deck and the full recording of Prof. Ingalsbe's workshop.

Key Considerations for Building Quality Rubrics

Prof. Ingalsbe ensures that rubrics are designed to enable students to easily understand what is expected for the assignment, allowing them to accurately assess their and their peers' creations. She highlights two main considerations:

1. Building Student Competencies

A fundamental aspect of designing rubrics is ensuring they define the skills instructors look for when completing a certain task. One way is using verbs like summarize, analyze, or argue; this enables students to understand what they must achieve and the skills they must display to score high on the rubric. While verbs may not apply to all courses, there are numerous ways to implement this concept by following Bloom's Taxonomy. 

Download: 100+ Examples of How to Apply Bloom's Taxonomy.

2. Addressing Accessibility

The goal of any rubric when it comes to performing peer assessment is to help students learn how to identify different skills and ideas within the creation they are assessing so that they can truly contextualize their learnings and education in a deeper way. A great way to do this is to use scaffolding rubrics. You start at the beginning of the semester with assignments with simple rubrics with several concrete, specific, and explicit criteria and levels. As the semester progresses and assignments become more challenging, rubrics can be scaffolded to have fewer levels and more complex criteria that involve further student interpretation and critical thinking. This allows them to slowly build their skills in literary analysis and gradually increase their ability to follow the rubric and be strong evaluators. 

Designing Activities and Rubrics for Peer Assessment within Writing Courses

Throughout the semester, Prof. Igalsbe implemented scaffolding rubrics that would increase in complexity as assignments advanced. 

Activity 1: Introductory OpEd Summary Assignment

To familiarize students with peer assessment, she started with a beginner-level assignment where they would analyze OpEds from the late 20th century.

This stage of the assignment is known as the Creation Stage, where students submit their original work based on the activity details, which in this case is a summary of the OpEd article assigned. After students submit their creations. Below is the introductory rubric Prof. Ingalsbe used:

Rubric Criteria Include:

  • Summary is between 150-300 words 
  • Student introduces the text with the title, author, publication (newspaper) and date (year). 
  • Student clearly and accurately describes the main message and purpose of the OpEd. 
  • Student accurately describes the type of evidence (or lack thereof) the OpEd author uses to support their points. (Evidence does not necessarily need to include outside sources or data). 
  • Student accurately and clearly describes the most relevant rhetorical strategies the OpEd writer uses to promote their argument. 
  • Student provides specific examples from the original text in paraphrases or short quotations to demonstrate their descriptions and evaluations.
  • The summary is fair, even if the student's opinion of the text is clear.  
  • The student's organization, writing style, and technical skills (spelling, grammar, punctuation) construct a clear text that is easy to read and understand. 

The criteria used was a checklist with many clear and specific criteria, such as word count and introducing the text with the title, author, and publisher. The rubric also included levels of achievement, which she labelled as "Gold star," "Doing okay," and "Needs improvement." This rubric design allowed students to be introduced to peer assessment, helping them easily identify the competencies needed for assignment success.

Activity 2: Intermediate Visual Article Analysis Assignment

As the semester progresses and students start getting used to peer assessment, instructors can increase the complexity of the rubrics based on the assignment learning objectives. This allows students to exponentially increase their comprehension of course content, core competencies, and critical thinking skills when creating their work and assessing their peers. 

This second assignment is an example of scaffolding, Prof. Ignalsbe assigns a task that requires more thinking and application of course content compared to the introductory assignment previously created.

Below is the activity and rubric designed by Prof. Ingalsbe:

Rubric Criteria Include:

  • Cross-References
  • Analysis & Evaluation
  • Clarity & Efficiency
  • Visual Design

This rubric contained much less detail than the initial rubric used in the first activity, demonstrating the use of scaffolding rubrics. Now that students had some experience with peer assessment and course content, implementing less specific criteria enabled them to demonstrate their understanding better.

All of the rubrics showcased were created with Kritik’s built-in Rubric creator, allowing educators to streamline the design of rubrics effortlessly.

Activity 3: Culminating Essay Draft

This third assignment is a draft of the final culminating essay of the course. Running the draft through Kritik allows students to quickly get personalized feedback regarding their essays from their peers before submitting the final copy to the instructor. With 100 students in the class, giving feedback on each student’s draft would take weeks. However, Kritik streamlined this process, giving the students feedback in less than 4 days. 

Below is the culminating activity and rubric assigned by Prof. Ingalsbe:

Rubric Criteria Include:

  • Summary
  • Supporting Sources
  • Cross-References
  • Language Analysis
  • Thesis and Overall Evaluation
  • Clarity & Efficiency

This rubric contains the main points that students should focus on. However, it leaves room for students to apply their understanding of course concepts and draw on their previous experiences evaluating their peers. Rather than provide concrete points such as word count, this rubric is designed for students to be more contextual in the evaluation process.

Why Integrate Peer Assessment in Writing Courses

Prof. Ingalsbe utilized peer assessment to help improve student engagement, reflection, and course comprehension but also to help boost her productivity as an educator. With class sizes reaching over 100+ students due to budget cuts, finding an effective and affordable solution to reduce administrative and grading burdens became essential. 

Implementing team-based, face-to-face classes with fewer, larger assignments was the best way to create an effective learning experience for her students and herself as an instructor. Kritik was adopted to help manage the grading workload, enable students to evaluate each other's work using a rubric, and provide instructors with full visibility, commenting capabilities, and analytics to monitor student progress. 

Take a look at one of the evaluations made by a student during the Evaluation stage, where students evaluate the work of their peers: 

Using Kritik’s 6-star grading power system allows certain student evaluations to hold more weight than others. In this case, the student evaluator had a 5-star rating, the second-highest standing possible. This rating was given due to the quality of their evaluation.  This student left a high-quality evaluation, using the rubric created by Prof. Ingalsbe and leaving a strong written comment that provided valuable feedback and criticism to the student on their creation.

After the evaluation stage is the Feedback stage, where the student who had their work evaluated gives feedback to their evaluator, rating how motivational and critical their evaluation was and any further comments. 

This stage allows students to reflect on their work and the critiques given by their peers. The initial evaluators can also see how the student rated their evaluation, allowing them to feel a sense of pride knowing that they contributed to their classmates' learning.

By implementing peer assessment through Kritik, Prof. Ingalsbe could see phenomenal results in her class. With a large class size of 100 students in her course, she was still able to improve student engagement, decrease feedback and grading turnaround, and increase the overall value of her course.

Design more Effective Peer Learning Rubrics with Kritik!

Prof. Ingalsbe was able to design effective peer assessment rubrics in her writing courses through Kritik. With features such as our built-in rubric builder, our vast rubric repository, and AI-generated activities and Rubrics, creating in-depth rubrics has never been easier. 

Interested in seeing more such stories? Join us for our next workshop!

Natalie Ingalsbe
Natalie Ingalsbe
Georgia Southern University

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