Using rubrics in student self-assessment: student perceptions in the English as a foreign language writing context



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Using rubrics in student self-assessment

Studies on formative rubric use
The past two decades witnessed a burgeoning interest informative rubric use in general education. At least four papers have been published synthesising research on rubric use in education, which cover a wide scope of disciplines and educational levels (see Jonsson and Svingby
2007
; Reddy and Andrade
2010
; Panadero and Jonsson
2013
; Brookhart and Chen
2015
). The present study focuses only on the studies on formative rubric use, which can be broadly classified into three strands (1) rubrics effects on students learning or performance (2) rubrics effects on student self-regulated learning, motivation and self-efficacy; (3) student experiences and perceptions of rubric use.
The first strand of studies employed mainly quasi-experimental designs) to investigate the effects of rubric use on student learning or performance (e.g. Andrade and Boulay
2003
; Andrade, Du, and Wang
2008
; Andrade, Du, and Mycek
2010
; Coe et al.
2011
). Andrade, Du, and Mycek (
2010
), for instance, found that using model-generated criteria in self-assessment improved third and fourth grade students writing scores. Sundeen (
2014
) showed that both explicit instructions in teaching students about a rubric’s elements and simply giving them the rubric had the same effects on their writing performance.
The second strand of studies expanded the research foci to the effects of rubric use on student self-regulation, motivation, self-efficacy and self-grading accuracy (e.g. Andrade et al.
2009
; Panadero,
Tapia, and Huertas
2012
; Panadero and Romero
2014
; Wollenschläger et al.
2016
). Panadero and Romero
(
2014
), for example, found that, although rubric use promoted pre-service teachers use of learning strategies, performance and self-grading accuracy, it also led to more task stress and performance avoidance self-regulation. Wollenschläger et al. (
2016
) compared the effects of three types of teacher rubric feedback on students work and found that, compared with transparency and individual performance information, individual performance improvement information in teacher rubric feedback resulted in more improvements in student performance, motivation, self-regulation and self-grading accuracy.
The third strand of research explored students perceptions of rubric use in assessment (e.g. Andrade and Du
2005
; Reynolds-Keefer
2010
; Sundeen
2014
; Li and Lindsey
2015
). For instance, Reynolds-Keefer
(
2010
) reported that the pre-service students in two educational psychology courses regarded the rubric as useful for guiding their task completion and reflection. Li and Lindsey (
2015
) compared teachers and students perceptions of a holistic rubric used in a first-year university writing course and revealed that, although both parties found the rubric useful for end-of-course assessment, they held different understandings of the language used in the rubric.
These studies were mostly about rubric use in first language writing or subject content courses. It was not until recently that the instructional value of rubrics caught the attention of second/foreign language researchers (e.g. Sundeen
2014
; Li and Lindsey
2015
; Babaii, Taghaddomi, and Pashmforoosh

ASSESSMENT & EVALUATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION
3 2016
; Becker
2016
). Babaii, Taghaddomi, and Pashmforoosh (
2016
), for instance, found that sharing assessment criteria with students narrowed the gap between students and teachers understandings of EFL speaking and improved student self-grading accuracy. In another study, Becker (
2016
) showed that involving English as a Second Language students in creating and/or applying a rubric significantly improved their summary writing performance. There is, however, little research exploring students perceptions of rubric use in self-assessment in second/foreign language contexts.
Students’ learning in second/foreign language contexts differs from learning inmost subject content courses, in that the former involves more nonlinear learning progressions than the latter (Turner and
Purpura
2015
). It remains to be explored whether the same findings and principles about rubric use derived from subject content courses also apply in second/foreign language contexts. Additionally, there are few studies exploring the factors mediating the rubric’s effectiveness for promoting student learning (Panadero and Jonsson
2013
). Last but not the least, more research is also needed to probe the relationship between student rubric use and self-regulation from their own perspectives, which constitutes an important source of evidence about the validity of rubrics as instructional tools (Brown,
McInerney, and Liem
2009
; Brookhart and Chen The present study explores students perceptions of rubric’s role in their self-assessment in a Chinese EFL writing class. Specifically, it addresses two questions) How did students perceive the rubric’s role in self-assessment, especially in relation to their self-regulated learning of writing) What factors, if any, were perceived by the students as affecting the rubric’s effectiveness in self-assessment in the writing class?

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