Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

30 May 2012

Flipping assessment

Clark @ 5:56 AM

Inspired by Dave Cormier’s learning contract, and previous work at learner-defined syllabi and assessment, I had a thought about learner-created project evaluation rubrics. I’m sure this isn’t new, but I haven’t been tracking this space (so many interests, so little time), so it’s a new thought for me at any rate ;).

It occurred to me that, at least for somewhat advanced learners (middle school and beyond?), I’d like to start having the learners propose evaluation criteria for rubrics.  Why? Because, in the course of investigating what should be important, they’re beginning to learn about what is important.  Say, for instance, they’re designing a better services model for a not-for-profit (one of the really interesting ways to make problems interesting is to make them real, e.g. service learning).  They should create the criteria for success of the project, and consequently the criteria for the evaluation of the project. I wouldn’t assume that they’re going to get it right initially, and provide scaffolding, but eventually more and more responsibility devolves to the learner.

This is part of good design; you should be developing your assessment criteria as part of the analysis phase, e.g. before you start specifying a solution.  This helps learners get a better grasp on the design process as well as the learning process, and helps them internalize the need to have quality criteria in mind. We’ve got to get away from a vision where the answers are ‘out there’, because increasingly they’re not.

This also ties into the activity model I’ve been talking about, in that the rationale for the assessment is discussed explicitly, make the process of learning and thinking transparent and ‘out loud’.  This develops both domain skills and meta-learning skills.

It is also another ‘flip‘ of the classroom to accompany the other ways we’re rethinking education.  Viva La Revolución!


  1. I totally agree! Another addition to this is if you have students create rubrics and then peer-review each other’s work according to the rubric. This kind of teamwork can be a lot of fun for students, and it takes a lot of work off your plate!

    Comment by Catherine Killingsworth — 30 May 2012 @ 10:47 AM

  2. By negotiating rubrics with students beforehand (aka Wiggins and McTighe’s “backward design”), expectations are clearly articulated by both the learners and educator so that desired results are made clear. This also provides an opportunity to model good and bad examples (based on the rubric) before the learning process begins so that learners have a vision to work towards.

    Comment by Benjamin — 1 June 2012 @ 5:49 AM

  3. Catherine, great idea in adding peer review.

    Benjamin, thanks for the pointer. I like ‘backward design’ (e.g. starting with the objectives first), didn’t know they also advocated negotiating rubrics. Also great point to then model the rubrics good and bad.

    Comment by Clark — 1 June 2012 @ 8:22 AM

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