Scientific Inquiry

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 08:52
Holistic Rubric for Scientific Investigation

The Holistic Rubric provides a description of different levels of performance in a field, subject, or skill. This enables both teachers and students to speak the same language about evaluation, and it assists students in realistically assessing their own work.

The example that follows was developed by the faculty at Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School. They emphasize 12 skills and provide rubrics and criteria for them all.
An example of a rubric follows.

Just Beginning


You show limited understanding of the question you are investigating.
Your hypothesis cannot be tested with your plan, or you have no plan for testing it.
Your physical observations are inaccurate or not recorded in a useful way.
You have not considered alternative explanations for what you observe, or shown logical reasoning in drawing your conclusion.
You do not verify your results or identify sources of possible error or bias.
Your explanation of your conclusions does not use accurate math-science vocabulary or visual representations, or it is unclear to the audience.
You conduct the investigation but do not comment about what it might mean.
You do not complete the investigation, or you show no evidence of reflecting on your process and thinking.

 Approaches Division 1 Standards


You show some understanding of the question you are investigating.
You present a testable hypothesis but your plan for testing it is incomplete.
Your physical observations are incomplete or imprecise.
You present alternative explanations for what you observe, but your reasoning is only partly correct in drawing conclusions.
You try to verify your results but you miss sources of possible error or bias.
Your explanation of your conclusions correctly uses some math-science vocabulary or visual representations.
You conduct the investigation and make some comments about what it might mean.
You attempted most of the investigation, and you show some evidence of reflecting on your process and thinking.

Meets Division 1 Standards ("Yes, and..." "Yes, but...")

You understand the question you are investigating.
You present a hypothesis and a workable plan for testing it.
Your physical observations are complete and accurate.
You present alternative explanations for what you observe, and your conclusions suggest logical reasoning, but that reasoning is not clearly explained.
You try to verify your results and identify at least one possible source of error and bias.
Your explanation of your conclusions correctly uses appropriate math-science vocabulary and visual representations.
You conduct the investigation and connect your conclusion to other ideas you know about, or to a "real world" use.
You attempted the entire investigation, and you show some evidence of reflecting on your process and thinking

Exceeds Division 1 Standards ("Yes!")

You understand the question you are investigating and identify the variables or special factors that may affect your investigation before starting.

You present a hypothesis and an efficient or sophisticated plan for testing it.
Your physical observations are extensive, precise, and sustained.
You present alternative explanations for what you observe, and you clearly explain the reasons for your logical conclusions.
You verify your results and identify several possible sources of error and bias.
Your explanation of your conclusions uses sophisticated math-science vocabulary and effective visual representations.
You conduct the investigation and connect your conclusion to other ideas you know about, or to a "real world" use.
You attempted more than the required investigation, and you reflect thoughtfully on your process and thinking.

Reprinted with permission from Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devers, MA.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 09:45