3 -Types of rubrics
For a particular task you assign students, do you want to be able to assess how well the students perform on each criterion, or do you want to get a more global picture of the students’ performance on the entire task? The answer to that question is likely to determine the type of rubric you choose to create or use: Analytic or holistic.
Most rubrics, like the Research rubric above, are analytic rubrics. An analytic rubric articulates levels of performance for each criterion so the teacher can assess student performance on each criterion. Using the Research rubric, a teacher could assess whether a student has done a poor, good or excellent job of “organization” and distinguish that from how well the student did on “historical accuracy.”
In contrast, a holistic rubric does not list separate levels of performance for each criterion. Instead, a holistic rubric assigns a level of performance by assessing performance across multiple criteria as a whole. For example, the analytic research rubric above can be turned into a holistic rubric:
|3 – Excellent Researcher
|2 – Good Researcher
|1 – Poor Researcher
In the analytic version of this rubric, 1, 2 or 3 points is awarded for the number of sources the student included. In contrast, number of sources is considered along with historical accuracy and the other criteria in the use of a holistic rubric to arrive at a more global (or holistic) impression of the student work. Another example of a holistic rubric is the “Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric” (in PDF) developed by Facione & Facione.
Analytic rubrics are more common because teachers typically want to assess each criterion separately, particularly for assignments that involve a larger number of criteria. It becomes more and more difficult to assign a level of performance in a holistic rubric as the number of criteria increases. For example, what level would you assign a student on the holistic research rubric above if the student included 12 sources, had lots of inaccuracies, did not make it clear from which source information came, and whose bibliography contained most relevant information? As student performance increasingly varies across criteria it becomes more difficult to assign an appropriate holistic category to the performance. Additionally, an analytic rubric better handles weighting of criteria. How would you treat “historical accuracy” as more important a criterion in the holistic rubric? It is not easy. But the analytic rubric handles it well by using a simple multiplier for each criterion.
When to choose a holistic rubric
So, when might you use a holistic rubric? Holistic rubrics tend to be used when a quick or gross judgment needs to be made. If the assessment is a minor one, such as a brief homework assignment, it may be sufficient to apply a holistic judgment (e.g., check, check-plus, or no-check) to quickly review student work. But holistic rubrics can also be employed for more substantial assignments. On some tasks it is not easy to evaluate performance on one criterion independently of performance on a different criterion. For example, many writing rubrics (see example) are holistic because it is not always easy to disentangle clarity from organization or content from presentation. So, some educators believe a holistic or global assessment of student performance better captures student ability on certain tasks. (Alternatively, if two criteria are nearly inseparable, the combination of the two can be treated as a single criterion in an analytic rubric.)