Using Rubrics with the Computer Science Fundamentals Course

Rubrics can be a useful tool to help students and teachers to work toward a shared goal, facilitate constructive feedback, and assess students’ learning on multiple elements of a project.

The Computer Science Fundamentals Rubrics were designed to be used in the context of the course, and are tied to the content and activities that are presented in the course.

The following article will cover:

  • Using a Rubric for Formative Assessment
  • Using a Rubric for Summative Assessment
  • Links to Computer Science Fundamentals Rubrics

Using a Rubric for Formative Assessment

Students can submit their projects for teacher and peer review and feedback. One way to facilitate constructive, targeted feedback is by using a rubric. Giving students a rubric before they begin working ensures that students and teachers are working towards a shared goal. The rubrics designed for the Computer Science Fundamentals course offer students a way to see the criteria that can be evaluated, and give a metric for offering feedback. Using the same rubrics for both formative and summative assessments, allows students to receive feedback that will help them improve their projects, so that their summative assessment can reflect that effort. In formative assessment, rubrics can be a starting point for a discussion, and can prompt students and teachers to think about different elements of a project beyond simply whether or not it worked.

The rubrics grow as the course content grows, and students are learning more complex coding and computer science concepts. Feedback for Units 1-2 will be simpler, and focused on whether students can complete the task and explain it. Just as the introductory concepts in those Units are simpler, so is the rubric. The rubrics for Units 3-6 and Units 7-10 build upon these introductory experiences by adding elements like Subgoal Labelling and Reliability, that can engage students and teachers in more in depth discussions. Feedback can become more nuanced and highlight things like how students are breaking down problems in order to solve them.


Using a Rubric for Summative Assessment

A rubric can be used to support summative assessment. Giving students a rubric before they begin something like a Unit Challenge, enables students to know the criteria their projects will be evaluated on, beyond simply working or not working. The same rubric that was used for formative assessment, where feedback was the goal, can be used for grading as well, by assigning a grade to each level of proficiency. Using the same rubric for both formative and summative assessment enables students to act on the feedback they were given, and improve their performance so that their summative assessment reflects a culmination of their effort.

The rubrics provided for the Computer Science Fundamentals course are tied to the activities and lessons of the Units in the Course. The rubric for Units 1-2 is minimal, and can support a discussion of the introductory concepts. Since the goals of these first Units are more about whether students can complete the task and explain it, the rubric is meant to offer framing for measuring student success. The rubrics for Units 3-6 and Units 7-10 build upon these introductory experiences and incorporate additional elements, like Subgoal Labelling and Reliability, to offer other metrics for evaluating project success, and explanations of what those looks like in context. The rubrics grow as the course content grows, and students are learning more complex coding and computer science concepts.


Links to Computer Science Fundamentals Rubrics

The rubrics offered here are Google Docs, so you can make a copy and edit them to meet your class’s needs.