Evaluate: Rubrics and Competencies Quest

posted May 24, 2016, 11:51 AM by Emily Kroutil   [ updated May 24, 2016, 12:04 PM ]
Competency-based learning is what I've been trying to accomplish in my flipped classroom.  I just didn't know that's what it was called!  I always called it Mastery-based learning.  This type of learning shifts the focus of a course to what the students have actually learned and away from things like seat time, credits, etc.  This is what I try and do in my own classes (with varying degrees of success...)!

The projectile unit in physics is based on the following GPS for Physics:
As with most of the GPS, the underlined sections (f, g) are quite broad, so I created learning objectives (competencies) that broke the broad elements of the GPS into more manageable chunks.  Then, I created organizational guides for my students with the learning objectives, resources they can access to view and practice the content and then they quiz at the end of each section.  My Organizational Guides (basically lists of competencies/learning objectives I created based on the GPS) looks like this:
The sections are divided into learning objectives (usually 2-4 per section) and the quizzes are also divided by learning objective (competency) so I can see exactly where the students are struggling.  I made short quizzes (4-9 questions), so the students couldn't just "pass" the quiz by getting the majority of the questions correct and still lacking mastery of a learning objective.  

 I now realize that this is similar to competency-based learning.  My learning objectives are basically competencies (things I want the student to be "competent in" or "master) and the quizzes are the assignments used to demonstrate competency (mastery).  To expand on this, I could create a rubric like the following and use that to "grade" their work (assignments labeled "Practice" in the organizational guide above, lab write ups, and anything related to that learning objective):

The items on the left of the rubric are the competencies (learning objectives) and the numbers are their level of competency with the skill.  I would suggest at least a 3, but preferably a 4 or 5 would be required to demonstrate competency (mastery).  If they can demonstrate competency (mastery) on the Practice problems, then they could be exempt from the quiz.  Alternatively, if they wanted to prove their competency (mastery) by doing the quiz, they could do that as well (Some students do not need to work the practice problems to "get" the concept and these students would benefit from being able to basically "quiz out" of that section.  If they wanted to complete the lab related to that learning objective and use that as their evidence of competency, they could do that as well.  This method allows students a variety of methods to demonstrate competency and also gives them more ownership of their learning.

As I spent more time with this rubric, I would probably find ways in which I would like to tweak or adjust it.  But, until I use it, I won't get a good idea of how it is lacking or what I should adjust.  Thus the problem with trying something new: that first class tends to be the guinea pigs.  Usually I let them know, "This is the first time I'm trying this, so let me know what is working and what isn't so I can adjust and adapt as we go along."