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Multimodal Mondays: Creating a Rubric to Evaluate Student Projects

posted: 9.30.13 by Andrea Lunsford

I often hear from instructors who are interested in assigning and encouraging more multimodal work in their classes. Many tell me that they are concerned that they don’t know as much about technology as many of their students do. How, they wonder, can they evaluate their students’ multimodal projects effectively?

The first thing to remember is that multimodal projects are first and foremost writing projects that are planned, researched, organized, drafted, revised, and edited. The familiar basic principles of rhetoric still apply.

One way to ensure that everyone agrees in advance about how to define an excellent project is to work with students to develop the rubric that you will use for evaluation. If you haven’t already asked students to read about rhetorical situations in their handbook or rhetoric, you might want to do so now.

The St. Martin’s Handbook, Chapter 2

The Everyday Writer, Chapter 5

EasyWriter, Chapter 1

Everything’s an Argument, Chapter 1

The rubrics I develop with my students always begin with the following rhetorical concepts, which can be applied equally well to big projects and to low-stakes assignments:

  • Clarity of purpose and clarity of thesis/major points
  • Knowledge of the subject
  • Quality of audience awareness
  • Use of appropriate appeals

To these basic principles, we can add items like these that seem appropriate to the kind of project the students plan to create:

  • Use of evidence
  • Clarity of organization
  • Clarity of sentence structure and word choice
  • Quality of delivery—speaking voice, timing, pace, tone, use of “signpost language” (for writing that is meant to be heard)
  • Quality of design—legibility and use of space, color, font, and other design elements (for writing that is meant to be seen)

Working on a rubric together not only helps to make the evaluation process more transparent for your students—it also reinforces the idea that the skills needed to write well can be applied to many kinds of projects, not just traditional academic essays.


Want to collaborate with Andrea on a Multimodal Monday assignment? Send ideas to for possible inclusion in a future post.

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