Criteria and Assignment Sheets Summer Smith Taylor BBL, September 27 2004 Assumptions The criteria for evaluating students’ work should not be a surprise to them when the papers are returned. One of the main purposes of an assignment sheet is to establish criteria for evaluating the students’ work. The reasons for each criterion should be established as well. The unit culminating in the completion of the assignment should teach the principles and skills needed to meet the criteria. When students receive graded papers, they should be able to tell what criteria were used and how they performed on each criterion. Student-Developed Criteria (idea from Paula Mathieu, Director of First-Year Writing at MIT) 1. Have students read some samples of the genre for homework for the class period before you distribute the assignment sheet. 2. In class, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the samples and then ask students to generate some criteria for the paper based on the discussion. 3. After class, consider how the students’ criteria mesh with your criteria and decide on the criteria you will use to evaluate the students’ work. Do not eliminate any of the criteria you originally planned to use, but do consider adding new criteria developed by the students or combining criteria in ways suggested by them. 4. On your assignment sheet, use the students’ own reasons, in addition to yours, to support the criteria that you share. Describe the other criteria as you usually would. Consistency in Criteria throughout a Project Making your criteria clear and consistent throughout a project unit can help your students focus on learning the new principles and skills that you are emphasizing for that project and also help you remain consistent in your teaching and grading. Criteria can be highlighted at many stages of a project: On the assignment sheet. Criteria can be listed and briefly described at the end of the assignment description. During the unit and on the syllabus. Lessons can be organized around criteria, so that it is clear that certain lessons teach principles and skills needed to meet certain criteria. This system can be highlighted on the syllabus by using the same language to label lessons as are used to describe the criteria. You can make special mention in class of how lessons relate to the assignment’s criteria. Through peer review. Before peer review, the class can review the criteria listed on the assignment sheet and then each student can mark the criterion or criteria that he or she thinks he may need help fulfilling. During the peer review, the students can focus on evaluating each others’ work according to the criteria and helping their peers revise to meet the criteria on which they are weakest. In response and grading. Targeting your responses to the criteria will demonstrate that the criteria established at the beginning are indeed those used to evaluate the paper. (In turn, this strategy will encourage students to focus on the criteria more closely when they prepare their next papers.) Using a response sheet that provides spaces for comments (and ratings, perhaps) regarding each criterion will help keep you and the students focused on the criteria.
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