Alejandra Vazquez and Frida Kollberg, Macquarie University English Language Centre
Beyond the grade: how rubrics can provide language feedback and reduce marking load

Rubrics are used extensively as an assessment tool but perhaps less so as a learning tool. Many rubrics tend to be overly detailed and wordy, and therefore time-consuming for teachers to use when marking, and challenging for students to understand and implement the feedback received. How can we make rubrics more useful for students to help them identify their English language strengths and weaknesses? How can we strike the right balance between giving enough feedback to students and not adding to teacher marking load?

As teachers, our aim is to encourage students to use the feedback we provide so they can take control of their own learning and become independent learners. We propose that clear and concise rubrics are a vital tool in this process.

In this session, we will explain how rubrics can help students prepare for an assessment task and identify areas for improvement once they have completed the task. We will also discuss benefits and potential issues with rubric use, and describe how, at Macquarie University English Language Centre, we have adapted our rubrics to make them less time-consuming for teachers and more accessible for students. Participants will also have the opportunity to critique a sample rubric and consider how to apply this to their context.

Frida Kollberg began teaching at Macquarie University English Language Centre in 2001, primarily on EAP and Direct Entry programs. From 2013, as Senior Teacher Curriculum & Assessment, she has focussed on curriculum development and assessment for MQELC’s Direct Entry programs, and more recently, the new pathway programs preparing students for Macquarie University International College. Her most recent project has involved the development of new assessment rubrics for the range of Academic English and Direct Entry courses at MQELC.

Alejandra Vazquez is lead Senior Teacher Curriculum & Assessment at Macquarie University English Language Centre, where she has been working since 2001. During this time, she has taught on a range of courses and has been involved in the development of online IELTS preparation courses, EAP courses and MQELC’s various Direct Entry programs. She has recently overseen the development of the new pathway programs feeding into Macquarie University International College and has co-developed MQELC’s new assessment rubrics with Frida Kollberg.