Rubrics and Thinking: Can they Co-exist?

Overview of Rubrics and Thinking

Instructions are usually very categorical. They define what has to be done, and, exactly how it is to be done. Many a times, things are done, not so that they can make sense, but so as to satisfy an authoritative procedure. The power of the mind is designed such that it functions best determine whether an authoritative rule of conduct can coexist with rational thinking.

The increasing rate of global growth does not allow for standardization of information. This translates to lack of control and limiting what a parent thinks his ten year old should know. Similarly, the child has to be introduced to a particular norm of how things are done so that it appears ‘normal’ behavior. The culture of discovery, innovation, and creativity all depend on the human mind. A standard-based approach, thus, can serve as a basic guiding principle towards opening the mind.

The value of a well-constructed rubric and its potential towards making the mind tick cannot be overlooked. Everybody begins on a level playground. People have both talent and skills. More often than not, it not easy to identify an individual’s talent, if one does not begin from a point where that special element can be realized. This can be identified from a central point whereby a common activity is given to all, and the performances assessed (Susan, 2008).

In addition, communication is facilitated. When people are handling a common task, the probability is that there will be interactions when of solving the problem. This not only enhances how people relate but, but also ensures a positive, timely feedback to related authorities. In spite of this, rubrics are very unidirectional as they do not enhance creativity of thought.

Sooner or later, content-based thinking will be outdone by inquiry-based thinking. This is because standard- based systems are at odds with the outside world. Restricting a person to American history when in a few years’ time he/she will be based in an African country for their careers does not add up. Critical thinking recognizes the delight of uncertainty. One develops a zeal to find out why something is the way it is, at the same time looking at other possibilities of how it could look like if in another form. This enhances deep and careful thinking which may not be realized through rubrics (Bowell et al., 2010).

Can Rubrics and Thinking Coexist?

There has to be a balance between enquiry and thinking as a dynamic. This can only be realized only when both elements complement each other. This can be the case of research and theory. A theory informs a research (Paul & Elder, 2007). The research itself goes to greater lengths, for example, through fieldwork to substantiate or question the theory, eventually, linking both ideologies.

Education’s main purpose is to prepare people to generate new ideas, permeate these ideas through rigorous analysis, and develop them through the design process to evolve a quality product. In this, people need facts, viable information, and specific knowledge to achieve a victorious outcome. Part of this information may be accessed from standard contents such as a classroom lecture, but the creative process has to be initiated beyond the classroom, thereby, defining the difference between a curriculum and reality.

Through blending critical thinking, social and emotional learning, inquiry skills, and standard-based procedures, the elements of thinking and rubrics can coexist. The vicissitude of human thinking can then be exploited and enable us align ourselves with the requirements of a process-based world.


Bowell, T., & Kemp, G. (2010.) Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide. Third Edition. New York: Routledge.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2007). The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Fourth Edition. Dillon Beach, CA: The Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Susan M. B. & Anthony J. N. (2008). Assessment and Grading in Classrooms Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. p.201