A Phenomenology of Sixth Grade Students’ Perspectives on Their Experience Using a Rubric for Criterion-Referenced Assessment

Julie Ann Quast

Document Type Article


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine sixth grade literacy students’ perspectives of rubric-referenced assessment at an inner-city school in central Arkansas. The theories guiding this study were Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, as rubrics scaffold students learning (Reeves & Stanford, 2009) and social cognitive theory, as rubrics help students regulate their learning (Covill, 2012) and control their actions (Bandura, 1997). The sample size included 29 students completing a questionnaire, 12 students participating in a focus group session, and two students journaling their experience. The research questions focused on the experiences, perspectives, approach to assignments, and response to feedback from a rubric. Analysis of data was conducted using Moussakas’ (1994) procedures to provide a full description of the phenomenon through coding and textual and structural descriptions, which helped create the “essence” of the phenomenon (Creswell, 2013). Five themes were identified from the data analysis and described with support for each theme. The five themes included planning/expectations, feedback and grading, motivation, reflection, and limitations/restrictions. The implications from this study support teachers, administrators, and policy-makers in making instructional and assessment decisions to best meet students’ needs.