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Rubrics with Reach: Center a global faculty education outlet

7/7/2010
 

 

Let’s get visual! Always on the move, always in the know and always setting and sharing best practices, the Center for Faculty Development has reached beyond the University of Colorado Denver’s two campuses to educate faculty on a global scale. As part of the nationwide Elixr Merlot project, the center launched videos and documents that educate and reflect the importance, multiple uses and varied dynamics of rubrics in traditional and online courses.

“A rubric is an assessment tool that provides students standards and guidelines,” Ellen Stevens, director for the Center for Faculty Development, explains. “We’ve been wanting to do a project such as this for a long time. Kenny Wolf is our local expert on rubrics . . . that was the beginning.”

Stevens, Wolf, associate professor and director of assessment, and Joni Dunlap, associate professor and UC Denver, Faculty Fellow for Teaching, secured funding for the project and sent out a successful call for participants. But, Stevens stressed, it was videographer Jessica Lance who made the magic.

“Jess really put it together,” Stevens says. “She pulled these stories out of our faculty and made an important, engaging and instructional series of videos.”

Lance, a second-year theater, film and video production instructor in the College of Arts and Media, saw the call to participate as a way to learn more about rubrics, connect with colleagues and learn more about the university.

“Being part of the Department of Theater and Film, we often get asked for help in video production,” she explains. “I wanted to take this on myself.”

Lance was able to take the experience and compose rubrics that best apply to her courses. “I am using rubrics in my classes now. I was sold,” she explains. “I work with a lot of freshmen. It’s helpful to show them, ‘these are the expectations, this is the outcome . . . these are the actual things I’m looking for in your work.’”

The video series is composed of more than 34 individual clips showing the expanse of rubric use. However, Lance followed six participants, five UC Denver faculty and an instructor from the Community College of Denver, and explored different aspects of rubric use. An informal, informational round table discussion by participants is also featured.

Stevens sees the series as a means to help faculty at UC Denver and on the global scale find a new appreciation for rubrics and dispel some negative notions. “We often hear resistance because of the ‘rigid’ structure,” Stevens said. “The Elixr Merlot project emphasizes that it does not have to be that way.”

Creativity can flourish amid standardized expectations, Stevens and Lance stressed. The UC Denver faculty participation in the Elixr Merlot project is an excellent example. “I was astonished by the way faculty use rubrics,” Stevens says. “The way they approach teaching makes me very proud to call them my colleagues.”

Check out the videos.