Using rubrics to communicate unit learning goals to 6th grade science students

The purpose of this research study is to determine if the use of unit rubrics will increase student academic achievement and motivation. One hundred and nine 6th grade science students from a diverse low income Southern California School participated in the study. The research compared two three-week units of study, an Earthquake Unit and a Volcano Unit. The Earthquake Unit served as the control where no rubric was provided to the students. The Volcano Unit was the experimental unit where students were provided a rubric that communicated the learning goals for the entire unit. Each unit was a 3-week unit and was taught using lectures, note taking, reflective writing, drawings and labs. The motivation surveys for each unit were taken the day before the unit test was given to the students. The motivation surveys and unit test scores were compared between the Earthquake and Volcano Unit to demonstrate an increase in student motivation and achievement with the use of rubrics during the Volcano Unit. Using quantitative analysis, the results revealed no significant increase in student achievement and motivation with the use of a unit rubric. This research study was only performed for a single three-week unit. In order to observe the full effect of the use of unit rubrics students should be exposed rubrics throughout the year. Therefore, the students and teachers are familiar with aligned assignments and assessments based on the rubric learning goals for each unit. KEYWORDS: academic achievement, efficacy, learning goals, motivation, rubrics