Criteria based assessment in Moodle

Criterion based assessment in Moodle - Rubrics in Moodle

[pulledquote]It seems that an increasing number of exam boards are going the way of criteria based assessment. Since the Moodle 2.2 upgrade, teachers now have the possibility to mark students’ work using criteria directly in Moodle (or rubrics as it is called in Moodle). Let’s take a look at how it can help us as teachers and whether it’s any good.[/pulledquote]

The good

Really easy to use

The user interface to create new sets of criteria (or rubrics) is really simple and even teachers who don’t feel comfortable using computers should be okay using this new grading method. There are 4 boxes at the bottom of the form which are slightly confusing, but can be left alone.

Students get better feedback, faster, more often

When marking a piece of work, you simply need to click on the level descriptor that best fits your student’s work – that’s it. You also have the ability to add extra comments should you wish to add extra feedback. I have found that if your set of criteria is well put together and you have discussed the marksheme with students prior to the task, you do not need to write that many comments; Of course this largely depends on the subject you teach, the task, the students’ age and what stage of the learning process the ask is part of. As this marking process is fast, it allows you to feedback on a piece of work several times along the learning process, instead of just at the end – good formative assessment practice.

Increase students’ involvement in assessment

I often discuss how a piece of work should be assessed with my students, prior and during the task. It always sparks great discussions – especially the part when we discuss ‘how many points should be awarded for this or that’… This is obviously more work for you as you cannot re-use previous sets of criteria. However, you could give your star student ‘teacher’ permission for the assignment in question and let him/her enter the rubrics in Moodle ;).

Rubrics can be shared between teachers

Once defined, your rubrics are saved as a template, which is a great time saver. Other teachers can then either use the rubrics ‘as-is’ or use it as basis to create their own set of criteria. It goes without saying that this is fantastic and another tool to help faculties/departments ensure marking is consistent across year groups and teachers. I find that discussing a set of assessment criteria with a colleague invaluable and always leads to great discussions.

Granular weighting

By default each ‘level’ for a criteria is worth 1 point, but this can easily be changed when editing/adding new criteria. This is great to add weight to certain criteria quickly and easily.

Almost perfect for the IB MYP & DP

I started teaching MYP Computer Technology this year and  all of my assessment is criteria based. This tool is perfect for that, bar the fact that MYP (and DP) have level descriptors with 2 marks e.g. 1-2 for a particular descriptor. With a bit of tweaking, it is simple enough to split each  criterion into separate level descriptors.


The could be better

No ‘average’ per criterion

One could argue that averaging criteria for a group is useless; I’d argue back. Getting a quick picture of how well my group has grasped a particular concept is invaluable. At the moment, there is no quick way for a teacher to see averages for their group, only the total assignment average.

Cannot group criteria

It is sometimes useful to group a set of criteria under a heading for clarity’s sake. As far as I’m aware this is not yet available on Moodle 2.2.

No autosave

I know this is a Moodle-wide ‘issue’ but as I was writing this blog article, I was also creating a rubric and guess what; I lost all of my work… It happened when I tried to delete a level, and my browser went loopy (due to one of the pop-ups not closing properly), causing me to loose 15 minutes worth of work, rather annoying. Auto-save every minute or so wouldn’t be a luxury for this.

No ‘Save’ button

There is a ‘Save as draft’ button at the bottom of the form but it takes you to another page that you cannot edit. You then have to click on an ‘Edit’ button again to be taken to your set of criteria again. This is a little confusing at first and the ‘Edit’ page would greatly benefit from a ‘Save now’ button (or an auto-save ;))

Cannot upload existing sets of criteria

If you already have sets of criteria or rubrics, there is no tool that allows you to upload them straight into your courses (or at least I couldn’t find it). I’m sure there is a way to place it directly into the database – I’ll have a quick look.


Want to try Moodle rubrics?

If you don’t have a server running Moodle 2.2, or if you just want to take a look at this new feature, you can login as a teacher into my website to give ‘rubrics’ a spin. It is hosted on shared GoDaddy hosting so it might be sssslllooooowwwwww if there’s lots of traffic. Username is teacher, and password is Teacher007! (the password is case sensitive). There’s no fancy hourly auto-delete/database refresh on this so be gentle 😉

Update: by popular demand you can also test as a student. Username is student and password is Student007!