Grading Rubric for Gravitational Force Lab

This Gravitational Force Rubric represents a grading rubric that could be used as assessment during a lab on gravitational force. I have extracted these student outcomes from the lesson plan as the assessment criteria for this activity:

  • Students will design and perform an experiment that investigates the effect of mass and inclination on the acceleration of an object.
  • Prior to performing experiment, students must record their hypothesis and procedures including all variables and controls necessary for accurate data reporting.
  • Students will analyze their data by creating graphs to illustrate the change in acceleration due to the variables: 1) changing the angle of inclination, and 2) changing the mass or surface properties of the ‘sled’.
  • Students will work in their pairs to compile a lab report citing the use of the scientific method.
  • Students will articulate their conclusion in writing individually as a means of assessing synthesis of new concepts.

4 thoughts on “Grading Rubric for Gravitational Force Lab

  1. I like the clarity of your rubric components. They seem to cover each aspect of a lab report that students would turn in after completing the exploration. Would you use a separate rubric to assess students during the actual lab activity, or will their performance at that time not be formally assessed? I find that with my students, I have to grade them on what I call “process” because it motivates them to stay on task and be appropriate during activities. In general they don’t seem to want to gamble a quarter of their points by behaving poorly.

    I have one other question about your rubric: why did you choose to make yours with three levels of achievement instead of the usual 4-5? I think your levels are extremely clearly defined, but I am just curious as to your motivation for having so few.

    • I have two reasons for only using 3 levels of acheivement, which also relate to your prior question as to why I don’t grade the process. Many of my students struggle with low self-efficacy and low stamina for reading and writing. I found that more than three levels of achievement overwhelmed them often to a point of confusion, frustration or despair. Some would even give up on the big picture and choose which criterion they could be most successful with and just do that. If they have many criteria (such as process) that they are graded on they will ironically invest greater effort to determine the minimum required steps necessary to pass than it would take to simply attempt the entire the project. There is a lot of “I have a ‘C’ so I don’t need to do that” type attitudes among my students. With three acheivement levels, I am assessing whether they have mastered, are still progressing in or simply need reteaching of a concept. Also, since they will need to be successful with the process in order to succeed, by limiting the grading to the end product I am still able to assess the process without creating a situation where they can ‘pass’ doing the experiment an avoid doing the lab report all together.

  2. Your rubric was very detailed and task oriented. It was pretty clear what you are looking for from your students. The only thing I would probably add is a section for neatness or correctly formatted lab reports. Other than that I think everything was spot on.

    • I think you’re right. Something to assess their formatting would be good, especially because I already struggle with trying to objectively assess the variety of formats they produce. I think I would probably need to spend some time modeling a specific format for them to reproduce, but it would help streamline grading and provide a uniform tool especially to support my students that require a little more scaffolding.

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