Publish at February 28 2012 Updated April 07 2022

Grading students' digital productions: yes, but how?

Digital productions do not have the same quality criteria as paper productions...

As incentives for students to use digital tools and resources not only as sources of documentation but also, and more importantly, as media for production grow, so does the question of how to evaluate these productions. How can we evaluate the quality of blog posts written by students, for example? In this matter, we cannot rely on the habits taken with the evaluation of classical academic productions (dissertations, theses, various essays), at least if we leave enough room for authors to express in these productions a part of themselves and their digital skills.

There is therefore a need to identify new specific evaluation criteria. This is what facilitators at the University of Wisconsin Polytechnic-Stout's Center for Continuing Teacher Education have been trying to do, as part of a major effort on "authentic assessment". On the university's website, then, is a rubric for evaluating student-generated blog posts, as well as the comments they file on their peers' blogs. This grid is only given as an indication, as the watchword of the whole section touching on evaluation seems to be to adapt the proposals to one's own teaching practices.

This is a matter of constructing the grade, giving different weights to the different components of the post. 

Six evaluation criteria

The grid proposes six evaluation criteria, accompanied by four quality indicators corresponding to four levels: insufficient (unsatisfactory - 0%), correct (limited - 80%), very good (proficient - 90%) and exemplary (exemplary - 100%).

Here are the six criteria, and their respective weights in the final score:

  1. Content and Creativity - 40% of the final score. 
  2. Expression of Opinion (Voice) - 20% of the final score. 
  3. Text Layout, Graphics and Multimedia - 20% of final grade. 
  4. Publication Pace and Tags (Timeliness and Tags) - 10% of final grade. 
  5. Quality of Citations (Citations) - 5% of final grade. 
  6. Quality of Writing and Proofreading (Quality of Writing and Proofreading) - 5% of final grade.

 Each of the four levels of quality is thoroughly described, so as to frame the subjectivity of the teacher's perception. 

Assessing digital skills as well

It can be seen from these criteria and their relative value that, while content quality (content, creativity, and expression of opinion) accounts for more than half of the final grade, 40% of that grade is based on skills directly related to the use of digital tools: the ability to layout a text, to correctly cite sources and examples (whether textual quotes, still or moving images), to enrich one's text with keywords, to publish at the right time and finally to proofread oneself (public dimension of the production). 

The evaluation thus takes into account the totality of the task accomplished by the student, in the public digital space that has its own qualitative criteria. In this, this proposed grid is an interesting initiative, which moves away from the evaluation of "paper" academic work, which is still too often made a standard applicable to all types of production.

A similar grid could easily be developed for other digital student productions: participation in discussion forums preceding or following classes, for example, or contribution to a collective wiki.

Photo: HackNY - Flickr - CC - Via Foter


A Rubric for Evaluating Student Blogs. University of Wisconsin - Stout

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