Instructional Science

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 539–559 | Cite as

Mind the gap! Students’ use of exemplars and detailed rubrics as formative assessment

  • Anastasiya A. LipnevichEmail author
  • Leigh N. McCallen
  • Katharine Pace Miles
  • Jeffrey K. Smith


The current study examined efficient modes for providing standardized feedback to improve performance on an assignment for a second year college class involving writing a brief research proposal. Two forms of standardized feedback (detailed rubric and proposal exemplars) were utilized is an experimental design with undergraduate students (N = 100) at three urban college campuses. Students completed a draft of a proposal as part of their course requirements and were then randomly assigned to receive a detailed rubric, proposal exemplars, or a rubric and proposal exemplars for use in revising their work. Analyses of students’ writing from first draft to second draft indicated that all three conditions led to improvements in writing that were significant and strong in terms of effect size, with the stand-alone detailed rubric leading to the greatest improvement. Follow-up focus groups with students indicated that a stand-alone rubric potentially engages greater mindfulness on the part of the student. Practical implications are discussed.


Feedback Formative assessment Classroom assessment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anastasiya A. Lipnevich
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leigh N. McCallen
    • 2
  • Katharine Pace Miles
    • 2
  • Jeffrey K. Smith
    • 3
  1. 1.Queens College and The Graduate CenterCUNYNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.The Graduate CenterCUNYNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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