Oral Communication Rubrics

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Communication Assessment Rubrics

Resources for Assessing Communication Activities

Types of Rubrics

Analytic Rubrics

Perhaps the most common type of assessment is one that identifies key features of a given communication task either because such features are critical to general success in the activity or because they are the pedagogical focus for particular learning. Such rubrics provide descriptive feedback rather than specific advice for student improvement. The individual factors can be weighted. Overall, an analytic rubric can reinforce valuable communication principles, suggest specific areas of strength and weakness, and provide the basis for future improvements and goal setting. No list of descriptive features, however, no matter how detailed, equates precisely to the overall communicative effect and thus should not be confused with holistic assessment.

Holistic Rubrics

When it is not possible or desirable to assess communication work based on independent features or when such features significantly overlap or interact, holistic assessment is the appropriate choice. Holistic rubrics typically focus on areas for improvement and provide qualitative feedback on designated competency levels.

Rubric Specificity

While mixing analytic and holistic assessment approaches within a single rubric is possible, such a strategy lends itself all too easily to overpenalizing students for particular weaknesses or misleadingly suggesting that the designated features constitute an exhaustive list of communication concerns. In that sense, the more detailed and precisely weighted the rubric, the more it may distort any holistic assessment.

Sometimes a rubric needs to be quite specific because the learning objectives of the assignment or the subject of the student's work dictate a narrower focus. Whenever an assignment addresses objectives not covered by any other course assignment, the rubric needs to reflect that level of specificity. When several assignments share learning objectives (broad communication concerns about purpose, context, organization, etc.), then the rubrics likewise will feature these rhetorical principles. Here, too, rubrics can be hybrids that carry forward general communication concepts from other assignments while introducing new ones specific to the current assignment. General rubrics may extend beyond the classroom to express programmatic or even institutional assessment concerns.

Assessment Resources

The number of resources on assessment can be overwhelming. Moreover, many would argue that assessment is best developed locally, not only because it is naturally situated to the iindividual teacher, student body, and institution, but because the very process of creating rubrics helps build and refine learning objectives within a given community. Certainly the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation [ERIC/AE] can serve as a useful resource. Its Scoring Rubrics—Definitions & Constructions can be a useful starting point for those new to assessment rubrics or those seeking general resources on creating and using scoring rubrics. Internet searches can be narrowed by communication activity, subject, type of rubric, and educational level.

Selected Resources

Brookhart, S. M. (1999). The Art and Science of Classroom Assessment: The Missing Part of Pedagogy. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report (Vol. 27, No.1). Washington, DC: The George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

Chicago Public Schools (1999). Rubric Bank.

Danielson, C. (1997a). A Collection of Performance Tasks and Rubrics: Middle School Mathematics. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education Inc.

Danielson, C. (1997b). A Collection of Performance Tasks and Rubrics: Upper Elementary School Mathematics. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education Inc.

Danielson, C.; & Marquez, E. (1998). A Collection of Performance Tasks and Rubrics: High School Mathematics. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education Inc.

Delandshere, G. & Petrosky, A. (1998) "Assessment of complex performances: Limitations of key measurement assumptions." Educational Researcher, 27 (2), 14-25.

ERIC/AE (2000a). Search ERIC/AE draft abstracts.

ERIC/AE (2000b). Scoring Rubrics - Definitions & Construction.

Gay, L. R. (1987). "Selection of measurement instruments." In Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Application (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan.

Glendale Community College Communication Faculty. Five-Objective Speaking Rubric and Overview.

Haswell, R., & Wyche-Smith, S. (1994) "Adventuring into writing assessment." College Composition and Communication, 45, 220-236.

Knecht, R., Moskal, B. & Pavelich, M. (2000). The design report rubric: Measuring and tracking growth through success. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting American Society for Engineering Education, St. Louis, MO.

Leydens, J. & Thompson, D. (August, 1997), Writing Rubrics Design (EPICS) I, Internal Communication, Design (EPICS) Program, Colorado School of Mines.

Moskal, B. M. (2000). Assessment Resource Page.

Moskal, B. M. (2000). Scoring rubrics: What, when and how? Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7 (3).

Moskal, Barbara M. & Jon A. Leydens (2000). Scoring rubric development: validity and reliability. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(10).

Rafilson, F. (1991). The case for validity generalization. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 2 (13).

Schrock, K. (2000). Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators.

State of Colorado (1998). The Rubric.

Yancey, K. B. (1999). Looking back as we look forward: Historicizing writing assessment. College Composition and Communication, 50, 483-503.

Evaluating Oral Presentations

Guidelines for Evaluating Oral Presentations

  1. Assessment criteria for oral presentations must be tied to assignment descriptions

    Clarify the situation/expectations for your oral presentation assignment. Here are some questions your students may need answers to before they prepare to speak:

    • Who is the audience? (real or fictitious?)
      • What level of knowledge can be expected?
      • How careful do I need to be with technical language?
      • What level of engagement will they bring to the presentation?
    • What is the level of formality?
      • What level of structure is required?
      • What level of vocabulary is required?
      • Is there a dress code?
      • Will I speak standing or seated?
      • For a group presentation, how formal do our transitions from speaker to speaker need to be?
    • How firm is the time limit? Will I be given cues?
    • Are visual aids expected? What type? Will there be assistance with equipment? Can I do a demonstration?
    • Will someone else introduce me?
    • Will questions be asked during the presentation or after?
  2. “The medium is the message” says Marshall McLuhan: beware of assessment systems that force a separation between delivery and content for evaluation.
    • As Ray Dearin said, “a speech is not simply a paper standing on its hind legs.”
    • A speech is one dynamic moment of interaction; the audience has one opportunity to get the message.
    • We can articulate the expectations with grading rubrics and give feedback through that means, but the organic nature of the speaking situation forces our attention to the fact that we can’t learn from or agree with the content if we can’t hear it because the rate is too fast, the volume too low, the word choices too technical, or the verbal and non-verbal clutter too distracting.
    • Public Speaking even without a traditional visual aid is multimodal communication.
  3. Recommendations for oral assignments in your courses
    • Write the assignment in a way that helps students meet your expectations.
    • Provide feedback that addresses the integrated nature of content and delivery.
    • Videotape presentations, give students the tapes and have them write responses to them.
    • Use a feedback form that matches the goals, expectations and the description of your assignment.

Submitted by Amy R. Slagell, Director of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking Program:
for ISUComm Instructor Workshop, August 17, 2004

Downloadable Versions of This Document: DOC  PDF

Evaluating an Introductory Speech

Introducing Yourself to an Audience: A Basic Evaluation

Common Speaking Problems

  • High levels of nervousness (offer reassurance that they can do this and that it will get easier as they learn more). If their big problem is rushing, they need to know that.
  • Physical speaking challenges (physical issues that affect articulation, heavy accents). Best advice: encourage them to slow down especially at first so that they give the audience time to adjust to the accent. Do feel free to compliment their strengths - Everyone has some.
  • Filled pauses – ums and uhs and likes etc. Let them know that they are doing it; again assure them that it will get better as they work on more prepared presentations.
  • Disabling nonverbals – won’t look at audience, repetitious meaningless gestures, covering their mouth, etc. Calm them and offer a suggestion about what to do with their energy. You might, for example say it is fine to take a step or two; let them know that having a visual aid for the next speech will be helpful to them.
  • Poor time management (speaking much longer or shorter than expected).

Evaluation Checklist for the Introductory Speech

Using a checkmark, plus and minus system allows the evaluator to make the following evaluations quickly. Although written comments would give students more information, immediate feedback works well for an early assessment and might be expanded by oral comments.

(A checkmark means yes)

____ Did the speaker have an introduction? ____Body? ____Conclusion?
____ Did the speaker express ideas in an orderly way?
____ Did the speaker maintain audience attention with content? _____ Delivery?
____ Did the speaker have good eye contact with the audience?
____ Did the speaker avoid filling pauses with words such as “like,” “you know,” “um,” “uh,” or “and”?
____ Did the speaker use vocal variation?
____ Did the speaker use hands effectively?
____ Did the speaker use good posture and have a confident stance?
____ Did the speaker have facial animation?
____ Was the flow of words smooth and uninterrupted?
____ Did the speaker put the audience at ease?

Submitted by Amy R. Slagell, Director of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking Program, Iowa State University

Downloadable Versions of This Document: DOC  PDF

Oral Presentation Evaluations - Pros and Cons

Five Approaches to Oral Evaluations

Effects Criterion

Did the presentation accomplish its goal? Did it sell the product/plan? Can the audience successfully answer questions about the material presented?

Pros:

  • students may agree that it is like real life
  • can be combined with other approaches

Cons:

  • may require outside judges
  • will require time to evaluate the effect
  • it is a threatening situation that increases student anxiety and may interfere with learning
  • involves complicated ethical issues


Point System

Lists expectations/criteria for grading and awards points for each.
(Example: Oral Presentation Evaluation – Teams)

Pros:

  • once critique form is developed it is simple to implement
  • allows for a quick grading response
  • form can be distributed early to allow for a clear discussion of expectations
  • students appreciate the use of numbers
  • students can see where they “lost” points
  • with training or elaboration into a fuller rubric can provide consistency among graders across sections

Cons:

  • feedback is often limited
  • it attempts to divide delivery from content
  • it offers a false sense of “objectivity” and suggests that effective speaking is a checklist of universal and distinct specific behaviors
  • can produce very low scores


Modified Point System

Lists expectations/criteria for grading in categories and then awards points for each.
(Example: Oral Presentation Evaluation - Small Groups and Speech Evaluation Criteria)

Pros:

  • form can be distributed early to allow for a clear discussion of expectations
  • students appreciate the use of numbers
  • allows for flexibility in feedback that can integrate delivery issues into each part of the assessment
  • can be developed into a complete rubric that creates a strong grading consistency

Cons:

  • can make it hard for students to know what “cost” them points in each category
  • can create a false sense of “objectivity”
  • can produce low scores
  • full rubric can overwhelm
  • can produce cookie cutter speeches


Holistic Approach

Lists expectations/criteria for grading in categories according to general letter grade performance and then provides feedback for each particular criterion of an assignment.
(Example: Holistic Grading Overview for Oral Presentations and an Informative Speech Feedback Form)

Pros:

  • maximizes feedback and focus on student development
  • adaptable to a wide range of assignments
  • emphasizes the impact of the presentation as a whole, while providing feedback on specific issues

Cons:

  • time consuming approach to grading; appears less “objective”
  • requires confidence on the part of the graders
  • students may have a hard time understanding the grade


Peer and/or Self-Critique

Offers forms for peers to fill out for one another or for speakers to fill out after viewing a videotape.
(Examples: Oral Presentation Evaluation - Peer Critique and Peer Evaluation of Oral Presentations)

Pros:

  • spreads the work around
  • increases sense of audience as going beyond the instructor
  • self-reflection offers a great pedagogical tool
  • encourages students to set personal communication skills goals and work toward them

Cons:

  • it is complicated to convert such evaluations into letter grades
  • some peers are poor listeners or rude respondents
  • there are time and administrative challenges
  • videotaping can heighten anxiety

Submitted by Amy R. Slagell, Director of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking Program:
for ISUComm Instructor Workshop, August 17, 2004

DOC  PDF

Oral Presentation Evaluation - Teams

Team Evaluation Form

For more information on this Point System Grading, read a summary of pros and cons of this method.

Team Members _______________________________________________________

Start Time: _______
Stop Time: _______

Organization

_____(2) 1. Did team effectively introduce the problem?
_____(1) 2. Did they state the purpose of the presentation?
_____(1) 3. Was there an effective transition from one speaker to the next?
_____(2) 4. Was there a good summary/conclusion?
_____(2) 5. Did the team demonstrate that they were well prepared?
_____(2) 6. Did they stay within the time constraint?

_____x2 = _____ Score:

Delivery

_____(2) 1. Did each member have a significant speaking part?
_____(2) 2. Were the deliveries smooth and rehearsed?
_____(2) 3. Could the deliveries be heard throughout the audience?
_____(2) 4. Was the level of terminology used appropriate for the audience?
_____(2) 5. Did speakers demonstrate enthusiasm in their presentation?

_____x2 = _____ Score:

Visual Aids

_____(2) 1. Did each speaker integrate visual aids into the presentation?
_____(2) 2. Were the visuals supportive of the purpose of the presentation?
_____(2) 3. Were they of good quality?
_____(2) 4. Were they easy for the audience to follow?
_____(2) 5. Were there sufficient visuals to support the presentation content?

_____x2 = _____ Score:

Addressing Key Issues

_____(4) 1. Could the audience clearly understand the criteria and constraints applied to the solution?
_____(3) 2. Did the team describe how well the design functioned under different conditions?
_____(3) 3. Did the team develop a logical and systematic justification of the proposed design improvements?
_____(4) 4. Was an effective “selling” job performed on the potential uses for the design?

_____x2 = _____ Score:

Response to Questions

_____(12) 1. Did the team handle questions intelligently and professionally?

_____x2 = _____ Score:

Team Score _______

Submitted by Amy R. Slagell, Director of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking Program:
for ISUComm Instructor Workshop, August 17, 2004

DOC  PDF

Oral Presentation Evaluation - Small Groups

Small Group Oral Presentations Evaluation

For more information on this Modified Point System Grading, read a summary of pros and cons of this method.

Introduction (20 Points)

  • Captured attention in opener
  • Introduced group members
  • Background information (including importance of topic)
  • Introduced “topic” and content to follow (preview)
  • Effective transition into body
  • Effective delivery

Body (30 Points)

  • Clear pattern of organization
  • Logical progression of thoughts
  • Main points fully developed
  • Appropriate and credible forms of support
  • Visuals used were effective
  • Language clear and appropriate
  • Good continuity between speakers
  • Effective transition into Conclusion
  • Effective delivery

Conclusion (25 Points)

  • Prepared audience for ending
  • Reviewed “topic” and main points
  • Effective closing statements
  • Effective delivery

Questions and Answers (15 Points)

  • Handled questions appropriately
  • Generated discussion (if none occurred)

Presentation Specifics (10 Points)

  • Used appropriate presentation aides
  • Kept on time
    • Presentation = 10-15 min.
    • Questions and Answers = 5 min
    • Grace period (30 seconds)

Submitted by Amy R. Slagell, Director of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking Program:
for ISUComm Instructor Workshop, August 17, 2004

DOC  PDF