Assessment Rubric for Coding

The Gist

  • Rubrics should be based on what the student demonstrates
  • Informed by Griffin’s Assessment for Teaching on writing quality criteria
  • Uses Dreyfus’s model of skill acquisition
  • Based on Australian Computer Academy’s unpacking the curriculum
  • Use to design learning experience or use Surfing Scratcher’s

Are you on the hunt for quality rubrics? They are hard to find and even harder to construct. “I’ve seen heaps of them out there,” I hear you say, but underpinning a quality rubric should be a model of measurement that operates within a criterion-referenced framework. This is because a rubric is a judgment based assessment, so we educators must be super clear with our judgments.

What’s wrong with most rubrics?

Many rubrics leave students guessing what the educator is asking for. For instance, rubrics that use ‘pseudo-counts’, which count rightness and wrongness, discourage students from developing something more complex. Rubrics that have ambiguous language such as ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘best’, ‘superior’ or ‘suitable’ leave judgment to the subjective opinion of the assessor. Other rubrics may use a sequence of steps as levels of competence but do not account for varying abilities at each step. So where do we go?

How to write a quality rubric using Griffin’s Assessment for Teaching

Rubrics are based on evidence, and evidence must take the form of what a person can do, say, make or write.

(Griffin, 2014, p. 126). 

This evidence must be directly observable and should be compartmentalised so that they contain one central idea. This can be called a capability and within the capability are indicators that students reach through their work. Each indicator should describe a progressively higher level of performance and, to keep things sane, each column (or row depending on how it’s designed) should contain four or fewer criteria for any indicator. 

So just how do you define these higher levels of performance? To help guide educators, capabilities and indicators should be paired or associated with a taxonomy or developmental framework.

Dreyfus’s model of skill acquisition

This model was chosen because of its adaptability to describe the development of learning within a specific instructional area, such as coding. There are 5 levels to the model and they include:

  • Expert — No longer relies on rules and operates from a deep understanding.
  • Proficient — Possesses perspective of a situation identifying goals intuitively
  • Competent — Perceives actions in terms of longer-term goals.
  • Advanced Beginner — Minor adjustments made to rules and procedures.
  • Novice — Rigid adherence to rules or procedures.

The example in Assessment for Teaching uses a recipe and pins one’s ability to 4 levels:

  1. Expert — Invents own recipes.
  2. Proficient — Adapts recipe to suit situation.
  3. Competent — Attempts changes to recipe.
  4. Novice — Follows a recipe.

Notice how each criterion begins with a verb and how each level of competence assumes mastery of the previous level. You could be a 6-year-old inventing your own recipes but have you demonstrated your competency of the three prior stages?

Unpacking the Digital Technologies curriculum with Australian Computing Academy

To help construct this rubric, make sense of the Australian Curriculum and make it usable for instruction and assessment, I used the Australian Computing Academy’s online resource ‘Unpacking the Curriculum’. We can tease out each indicator within a capability. The two most relevant to use are:

  • Algorithms
  • Implementation

Within each capability, we can specify indicators to help clarify our judgment so we are not needing to compare multiple skills within one criterion. 

For the Algorithms rubric, I’ve created 5 indicators that serve to compartmentalise each skill in order to give both student and educator clarity in completing the task and designing the task respectively. 

You could use an indicator to design a performance task, or have a set of tasks that can provide more evidence of what the student is demonstrating. 

The beauty of this assessment rubric is that is can be applied to any classroom in the world with minor if any editing. You’ll just need to check your curriculum descriptions, strip what you don’t need and add another indicator for what you do need. Simple. 

So check it out. I’ve also gone ahead and created rubrics specifically for each project that has a video tutorial on Surfing Scratcher. You can find these in the shop.

If you’re interested in the Assessment for Teaching book, then you can purchase it below.

Download the Algorithms Rubric

This article contains links to affiliates, which means if you purchase through the link, Surfing Scratcher receives a commission.

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