Detailed rubrics take away from student creativity

By Jackie Nevarez

College is a time for students to learn while expressing themselves as individuals, but many professors are putting a stop to that, one exhaustive rubric at a time.

It’s difficult for students to complete a writing assignment without any guidance. A rubric is a way for a student to know what the professor expects of him or her, but they can become a burden for the same reason.

Many students approach a writing assignment and just look to fulfill each requirement before they turn it in; the fixation on those details prohibits the student from developing a personal style, making writing more of a chore. Providing simple guidelines allows students to relax on the requirements and focus on the purpose of the assignment.

Courtney Gallaher, assistant professor in geography and women’s studies, avoids providing rubrics in order to promote critical thinking.

Following a rubric becomes difficult for students when they must decide which part of an assignment requires the most attention and effort. Professors, like Gallaher, have similar struggles.

“A rubric, like a syllabus, is a contract between the professor and the student,” Gallaher said. “It is really hard work to calibrate a rubric and distribute points. Figuring out the proper proportions is difficult.”

Several professors have provided me with rubrics that were pages long, in essay format, outlining how each paragraph should look. This is the kind of rubric that becomes a problem and prohibits personal expression. In order to receive an A students are forced to emulate a professor’s style.

Sara Dukett, supervisor and tutor at the Access PAL Tutoring Center in Founder’s Memorial Library, has encountered similar issues with rubrics in her time as a tutor.

“[Rubrics] can limit the way you express your own ideas,” Dukett said. “Recently, there was one that was a page long, followed by even more outline details. It was really complicated.”

Not every professor is out to destroy students’ creativity they may just want simple responses to show a student’s understanding of the material. Nonetheless, it should not be a burden for professors to read the unique style that accompanies the student’s knowledge.

Rubrics don’t have to be specific. There are other ways to express to students what the professor requires.