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Step 6: Assess accordingly

Professors Claire Battershill and Shawna Ross identify that assessing DHSS assignments can be complex because there are many different aspects of a DHSS assignment that students must engage in concurrently. To remedy this complexity, in their book Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom (2017) they advocate for professors to develop clear rubrics for evaluating students’ DHSS work. With a rubric for DHSS work, you can “check the consistency and objectivity of your judgements, while also showing students where their efforts are best directed to succeed in an assignment” (pp. 130-131). In this way, rubrics help students understand how to meet, even exceed, the expectations you provided for them. Rubrics can provide clear guidelines for what you’re looking, how much that is worth, what “ideal” looks like, what error looks like, and where you will be placing your emphasis during marking.

Battershill and Ross identify that a well-designed DHSS rubric identifies five things:

  1. The evaluation criteria
  2. The numerical grading scheme
  3. The characteristics of work that meets the evaluation criteria
  4. The stakes of error
  5. The role that effort plays in assessment

Mary J. Allen, Professor Emeritus from California State University Bakersfield, created a handout to support professors at Miami-Dade College in rubric writing, which you can find here: “Using Rubrics to Grade, Assess, and Improve Student Learning.” In that document she discusses the process of creating a rubric, and she also provides examples of rubrics for writing, critical thinking, oral presentations, collaboration, and more. You can also find sample rubrics she provided to the University of Guam in the document: “Developing and Using Rubrics for Assessing, Grading, and Improving Student Learning” (note: this will open in a Word document).

To see specific rubrics for different elements of DHSS projects, see the links below. Feel free to mix and match elements to customize your own assessment:

Danica Savonick’s article “On Crafting an Assignment Sequence for a Collaborative, Web-Based Final Project in a Composition Course” may be a helpful resource for thinking about these things holistically. Also visit the Dalhousie University Library’s Digital Humanities Project Planning template for a list of managerial, communication, and technical questions that can support students’ progress through their DHSS projects. Finally, Battershill and Ross created a web-enhanced version of their print book Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom with a page on writing rubrics. This page includes links to blog posts about grading in the DH community and discusses other experiential grading methods.