The analysis of qualitative data is typically an inductive process. The focus is on identifying and organizing the data into emergent themes. With careful reading and re-reading, faculty members will notice patterns that occur naturally in the data. Once the data are sorted into naturally occurring categories, the next step is to write descriptions of the main features or characteristics of each category. Finally, it is necessary to interpretto look for relationships, similarities, contradictionswithin and across data groups. This analysis may be done individually or by a team of scorers, or for large data sets the analysis can be done with a software program such as QSR NVivo.
Some qualitative data for example, samples of student papers are best assessed using a deductive approach, pre-established criteria for scoring, called rubrics. Rubrics are particularly suited to learning outcomes that are complex or not easily quantifiable, for which there are no clear right or wrong answers, or which are not evaluated with standardized tests or surveys. Assessment of writing, oral communication, critical thinking, or information literacy often requires rubrics.
Rubrics have two dimensions: they identify the various characteristics of the outcome, and they specify various levels of achievement in each characteristic. Thus, a well-designed rubric consists of 1) clear definitions of each characteristic to be assessed for a given learning outcome, and 2) clear descriptions of the different levels of achievement for each characteristic. For example, to assess writing requires a set of characteristics of writing that are being examined (e.g., logical organization) and a set of levels indicating the quality evident in those characteristics (e.g. what constitutes excellent, good, fair, or poor logical organization).
Because rubrics establish criteria, they can help make assessment more transparent, consistent, and objective. Faculty members and evaluators can use rubrics to communicate to students and each other what they see as excellent work, while students gain an understanding of what is expected and how their performance will be assessed.
Rubrics are also useful when there is more than one evaluator; rubrics can serve as standardized scoring guides that assist different evaluators to determine the quality of student work in a consistent manner. The links below provide examples of rubrics that are in use at BSU.
Last Modified: November 6, 2012