An Ontology for Open Rubric on the Web
An Ontology for Open Rubric Exchange on the Web, by Panulla, Brian; Kohler, Megan (2010)
While the Internet has given educators access to a steady supply of Open Educational Resources, the educational rubrics commonly shared on the Web are generally in the form of static, non-semantic presentational documents or in the proprietary data structures of commercial content and learning management systems.
With the advent of Semantic Web Standards, producers of online resources have a new framework to support the open exchange of software-readable datasets. Despite these advances, the state of the art of digital representation of rubrics as sharable documents has not progressed. This paper proposes an ontological model for digital rubrics. This model is built upon the Semantic Web Standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), principally the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Web Ontology Language (OWL).
Traditional educational assessments, such as quizzes, seek to evaluate a student’s retention of knowledge rather than a “student’s ability to apply skills and knowledge to real-world problems.” (Marzano). This effect becomes more pronounced in high enrolling courses regardless of the delivery method (online, blended, or face-to-face) due to difficulties of scaling up these methods.
- Rubrics offer a unique opportunity to replace these traditional assessment methods with projects and creative assignments. These authentic assessment activities (Rocco) enable students to learn through direct application of concepts.
- Tierney & Simon found rubrics “especially useful in assessment for learning because they contain qualitative descriptions of performance criteria that work well within the process of formative evaluation.”
- Rubrics have the ability to clarify the learning objectives and guide students toward meeting the predetermined objectives through meaningful activities.
- Rubrics also enable instructors to more clearly communicate their expectations to students by identifying the criteria required to obtain a certain level of success.
- Rubrics also have the ability to normalize subjective assignments.
- Once a consistent and reliable set of criteria has been established, the students can then utilize the rubrics as a form of self-assessment. This enables them to identify the gaps or weak areas of their projects prior to submitting it for an instructor review, thereby instilling valuable self evaluation skills.
Rubrics can assist instructors in the following ways:
- Ensure a consistent grading scale across all course sections, enabling all instructors or Teaching Assistants to assign grades based on a shared standard.
- Allow the instructor to efficiently review a student’s work by select the appropriate level of accomplishment, while respecting the instructors limited time.
- Reduce grading time by assigning the standardized criteria to students projects which enables the instructor to provide additional customized responses to the submissions
- Provide scalability by decreasing grading time enabling instructors to take on a greater number of students with less of an impact on their teaching load.
Enter The Semantic Web
Currently most available rubrics are in a presentational format – typically a visual representation meant for human consumption, like PDF documents, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, HTML web pages. Software systems will be unable to use these rubrics to mediate grading activities. What is needed is an open, non-proprietary way of describing rubrics for both machine and human use.
In order to meet the requirement of an open representation for rubrics in software systems, we must have a means of describing the entities, components and relationships present in the education knowledge domain. This set of ideas forms the conceptualization of the domain. By explicitly describing this conceptualization in a formal way we create an ontology. (Gruber, 1993)
While many frameworks exist for specifying ontologies, two complementary frameworks have been by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as Semantic Web Standards. These frameworks are the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Web Ontology Language (OWL). OWL 2.0 (World Wide Web Consortium [W3C], 2009) represents the state of the art for the creation of open ontologies and is a superset of RDF (W3C “RDF Concepts and Abstract Syntax”, 2004). Information described in OWL can be consumed and manipulated a large number of software packages and libraries. By using OWL to describe our ontology we can also leverage the growing number of existing RDF and OWL vocabularies to describe aspects of our data model not central to the rubric domain.
The Rubric Ontology
The key entities in the rubric ontology are: Rubric, Criterion, Level, and Category. Two more entities, Scope and Scoring, indicate the intended application of the rubric by users and software systems.
Check out the paper for more details, the framework could be useful in building assignment and assessment components in learning systems.
Panulla, Brian; Kohler, Megan (2010). An Ontology for Open Rubric Exchange on the Web. In Open Ed 2010 Proceedings. Barcelona: UOC, OU, BYU. [Accessed: dd/mm/yy].