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A model of collaborative rubric construction: Lecturers and students learning in partnership

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 11:00am – 11:30am parallel session



Room 10 – 303-B07 Sem



Associate Professor Maria Northcote
Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia

Beverly J. Christian
Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia

Dr Peter Kilgour
Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia

Dr Carolyn Rickett
Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia 

Dr Wendy Jackson
Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia

Dr John Seddon
Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia



Traditionally, decisions about assessment processes in higher education have been the domain of the lecturer or the course designer. However, university educators have been challenged to partner with students in the early stages of assessment design (Boud & Molloy, 2013). By engaging students in a collaborative process with their university teachers to prepare and create assessment guidelines and rubrics, there is a greater potential for students to take ownership of and be accountable for their own learning.


The Initiative/Practice

The aim of the research project was to investigate the innovative and collaborative use of assessment rubrics, in partnership between students and academic staff, in order to develop a model of collaborative rubric practice for application in higher education contexts[1] which includes guidelines on rubric co-construction processes that engage both students and teachers.

The project was conducted across six cohorts of undergraduate students in three higher education institutions and their teachers from five different disciplines and degree levels. The varied contexts provided a range of settings, each of which represented multiple cases to explore across multiple sites.


Methods of Evaluative Data Collection and Analysis

The project approach adopted a four-phase, mixed-method design across a two-year period, which included a systematic literature review, use of the Delphi technique and multi-site case studies. Students and teachers provided feedback about rubric co-construction processes via questionnaires, interviews and focus groups.


Issues Regarding Rubric Co-Construction

The teaching-learning partnership established by the rubric co-construction initiative may present some challenges and changes to traditional assessment processes, especially in relation to issues such as pre-semester planning of course documentation, sharing the responsibility of assessment design between teachers and students and negotiating with groups of students about assessment and rubric design. Because rubric co-construction does represent a change in the way assessment rubrics are typically designed, the practical ramifications of this collaborative example of curriculum design may introduce institutional challenges that need consideration. However, the initiative also presents opportunities for developing a shared understanding by teachers and students about the purpose of assessment and the quality of learning in higher education.


Intended Outcome

By the end of this Showcase presentation, the participants will be familiar with a set of research-informed recommendations to engage students and academic staff in the collaborative process of designing and using assessment rubrics to promote learning. Participants will also be provided with details of how to access the project’s website, Owning the rubric, which includes the Model of Collaborative Rubric Construction and Use.



The research reported in this Showcase was funded by an Innovation and Development Grant from the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT), Australia: Owning the rubric: Student engagement in rubric design and use, grant no. ID16-5374. The institutions involved in this grant included Avondale College of Higher Education, The University of Technology Sydney and Charles Sturt University.



Boud, D., & Molloy, E. (2013). Rethinking models of feedback for learning: The challenge of design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(6), 698-712.

[1] Please note the research project mentioned during this Showcase is the same project that is the basis of our pre-conference workshop titled “Owning the rubric: Facilitating rubric co-construction”. The pre-conference workshop addresses the full scope of the project, whereas this proposed Showcase presentation focuses specifically on the main practical application of the project: the Model of Collaborative Rubric Practice.


Presentation topic

Students – Working in Partnership

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