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Teaching in Engineering Education

Rubrics for Engineering Education

Please cite as follows: Chan, CKY (2015). "Rubrics for Engineering Education", Engineering Education Enhancement and Research Asia (E3R Asia).

When to Use Holistic Rubrics and Analytic Rubrics?

The choice between using holistic rubrics or analytic rubrics depends on a variety of factors such as the type of assessment, the learning outcomes, the feedback that the teacher wish to provide and others. The tendency to use holistic rubrics is when the teacher wants to make a quick or gross judgment. For instance if an assessment is like a brief homework assignment, applying a holistic judgment maybe already sufficient (i.e. check or cross) to quickly review students' work. In addition, holistic rubrics are used when a single dimension is adequate to understand students' performance. Holistic rubrics are commonly applied to many writing rubrics because they are not easy to differentiate clarity from organization or content from presentation. Thus some educators believe holistic assessment of students' performance can better capture students' ability on certain tasks.

The tendency to use analytic rubrics is when the teacher wants to typically assess each criterion separately, especially for assignments that involve a larger number of criteria. Analytic rubrics can better handle cases when it becomes extremely difficult to assign a level of performance as the number of criteria increases because as student performance varies increasingly across criteria, assigning an appropriate holistic category to the performance becomes difficult. Moreover, the use of analytic rubrics may also be initiated by the following reasons i.e. the need to see the relative strengths and weaknesses of a student; the need to assess complicated skills or performance; the need for detailed feedback to drive improvements; or the need to initiate students to self-assess themselves in their understanding and performance.