I'm about to co-teach a class on critical thinking and I've been reflecting on what I will be doing differently in the class this year. One thing I do more of is create rubrics.
1. I am co-teaching this class with a colleague because there are nearly 40 students.
2. I've learned a lot about how to use a rubric to give students guidance as they figure out the assignment, and give me a grading guide post.
Rubrics can be complex (with columns for Beyond Expectations, Meets Expectations, Below Expectations), to simple: (this assignment has the following expectations: Uses APA formatting: is typed, double-spaced, has a cover page, 12 point font), includes a minimum of 5 days, includes at least 4 paragraphs (a paragraph has at least 4 sentences)).
This is more of a guidance than a grading rubric, but my department has settled on a standardized writing rubric for grading papers.
The book I've used that has helped me create my own rubrics is Introduction to Rubrics by Stevens and Levi.
I had to laugh when I was working with my colleague on the expectations rubric for I told her that I couldn't believe we had to describe the number of paragraphs and what how many sentences were in a paragraph. "Back when I was in school, I would have known what a paragraph was," I grumped. "We shouldn't have to do this."
Maybe we shouldn't have to but it's amazing what gets turned in when I'm not that specific. Last year for a reflective log that was titled Daily Exercise, I was amazed to get several assignments that were not done DAILY.