Assessing Multimodal Projects (Digital Pedagogy Fair–Leigh)

Yes, rubrics can be your friend!

Many students have not composed in multimodal genres before, and are unsure of the expectations they will face come grading time. At the same time, if you are new to teaching multimodal assignments, you might be unsure of how to assess them fairly. Rubrics have a bad rap (they can be reductive and constrictive) but choosing to use one can make it easier for both you and your students: you’ll be able to more clearly articulate your goals, and your students will have a better sense of how to meet those goals.

Remember that Inquiry 4 should have a significant reflective component. In other words, your evaluation will be based on the multimodal project itself as well as an extensive cover letter in which students will explain and analyze their rhetorical choices and composing processes. Emphasizing the importance of this reflective letter–both in your teaching and in your grading–can make you and your students more comfortable with assessing Inquiry 4, since a good chunk of their grades (we recommend somewhere around half of the final grade) will be based on this more familiar genre.

We’ve found that the best rubrics focus on just four or five key areas (any more and students can get overwhelmed. More categories also leads to more difficulty in grading). You can choose to define these key areas for yourself, or you can take a more collaborative route and ask for your students’ help. Since students are likely already expert readers of multimodal genres, this can be a productive conversation for everyone. Either way, be sure that you focus on a limited number of criteria, and that these criteria articulate what students should do: what specific tasks and performances do you want to see? What does it mean to do these well? For example, if “rhetorical effectiveness” is one of your categories, you might ask students to invoke rhetorical appeals and styles that are appropriate and persuasive to their given audience, medium, and genre.

Check out these sample rubrics below to get a sense of how other Miami teachers have used rubrics productively in Inquiry 4.

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