University of Minnesota

Physics Education Research and Development Group

Problem-Solving Rubric

Rubric categories

We are developing an easy-to-use problem-solving assessment rubric to assess students' problem-solving skills based on their written problem solutions. The rubric has been tested for validity, reliability, and utility and that work is described in the doctoral dissertation of Jennifer Docktor (click here). The rubric has five categories:

  1. Useful Description: representing information from the problem statement symbolically, visually, and/or in writing

  2. Physics Approach: selecting relevant physics concepts and principles to apply to the problem

  3. Specific Application of Physics: applying physics concepts and principles to the specific conditions in the problem

  4. Mathematical Procedures: applying math rules and procedures in the context of physics

  5. Logical Progression: the overall solution process is clear, focused toward a goal, and logically connected (consistent)

Latest version of the rubric

  • Rubric version 4.4 (9/16/2008) in Word or PDF

  • Rubric training

    The rubric can be used either for research purposes or for general assessment purposes. For research purposes, a high inter-rater reliability is important. We have developed training materials to help novices learn to use the rubric for either purpose.

    • General purpose rubric training materials PDF

    These materials help people learn how to apply the problem-solving rubric to score students' written problem solutions.

    This is a more rigorous training process to achieve a high inter-rater reliability. Some repetition of the training process may be necessary. Sample student solutions used in the training and instructions are included.

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    • Last modified on October 15, 2012