How Rubrics Fit Into Your Writing Process -->

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How Rubrics Fit Into Your Writing Process

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Many course assignments at Walden University include grading rubrics. Rubrics are different than the assignment prompt itself—a rubric describes traits the final work should have, whereas the assignment prompt describes the content. The Writing Center has some great resources on using your assignment prompt effectively that you can review, but today I’ll focus more on those grading rubrics and how they can fit into your writing process.

How Rubrics Fit Into Your Writing Process

A grading rubric describes various areas of your work and what would achieve success in those areas. For example, a rubric section on organization might have various descriptions like “ideas are well-organized and clearly explained”. These descriptors may be a little confusing or hard to puzzle out as you’re writing your draft itself. So, I suggest reviewing your rubric before you write your first draft to get an idea what components of your work are most important for that assignment, then I suggest putting your rubric aside and focusing on the assignment and the writing itself. Once you’ve written your draft and checked that you’ve completed all of the important content components from the assignment prompt, then might be a good time to work your rubric back into your writing process.

One important thing to consider about rubrics is that, ultimately, what aspects in your work add up to what score is up to your faculty. That means that you shouldn’t stress too much about the rubric as you’re writing and as you look back over your work—especially at the start of a course. However, your rubric can be a great tool for revision of an individual paper.

Here are my overall tips for using your paper assignment’s rubric at different stages of the writing process:

Before You Turn in Your Draft
1. Read over your rubric after you finish a polished draft of your work that you believe meets the components of the assignment.

2. Consider if you think you are accomplishing the descriptions in the rubric (again, it might be hard to know at this stage—but give it a once over as part of your polishing up process).

3. If there’s an area you think is lacking, try revising on your own, review some of our resources, or make a Writing Center paper review appointment if you have time before the assignment is due.

After You Have Your Grade
1. Take a look at which areas of your rubric most needed work—maybe it’s organization, grammar, APA, or another category. Read the description of the area where you scored lower than you’d like to, then read the area in the next point category up.

2. Review your draft and consider how you might fit the description area you were scored for and also any ideas you have for ways to move up to the next point area.

3. Try revising a bit on your own, or come to the Writing Center for a paper review appointment. Only your faculty knows for certain why they gave you a particular grade, but we’ll do our best to focus on that category and suggestions to help you enhance that aspect of your writing.

4. Keep this paper review in mind as you write your next draft and work on applying similar skills.

Throughout the Semester and Beyond
1. Rubrics and areas where you score higher or lower aren’t just valuable for individual assignments, you can keep track of your score areas to work towards building a writing goal.

2. From draft to draft, you can pay attention to areas you scored lower or higher on previously and keep track on your own of what aspects of your writing you’d like to work on being more consistent.

3. Come to the Writing Center with your goal in mind and we’ll focus specifically on that area of your writing with you to assist you in working towards advancing your skills as well as working to meet whatever your rubric scores have indicated is a good area to focus on.

Remember, a rubric is just another tool to help you set some writing goals, use the Writing Center and some of the strategies above to work on achieving your goals!

Claire Helakoski author photo

Claire Helakoski is a writing instructor at the Walden Writing Center. Claire also co-hosts WriteCast, the Writing Center's podcast. Through these multi-modal avenues, Claire delivers innovative and inspiring writing instruction to Walden students around the world. 

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