Sample Rubric for Problem Reports and Reflections in a Math Course

Author: 
Jamie Sutherland, Mathematics Department, UW-Madison
Description: 
In this example, the instructor carefully explains the purpose of two different kinds of assignments and uses the rubric to identify the specific traits of strong papers.

Math 130 Sutherland

Lecture 1&2 Spring 2005

 

A Guide to Writing in Math 130

 

A good part of your math 130 grade is determined by your writing 5 problem reports and 8 reflections. These two types of assignments are intended to help you practice thinking and communicating about mathematics in complementary ways. While the problem reports allow you to think deeply about one particular problem and communicate fully and in specific language the solution to that problem, the reflections allow you to step back and look at the broader picture, fitting what you've been doing in the class with the rest of mathematics learning. To help you with your writing, I give you these rubrics which I will be using to grade your papers. Use them as a guide for what to write and how to structure your writing as well as a check-list to determine if you've done the work necessary to get the points. A word of caution: I can be picky and spelling and grammar do count. For best results, or if you have any doubts about your paper, consult the writing center in Helen C. White.

 

Rubric for Problem Reports:

Rating

Description

1

States the problem and methods that were used to solve the problem.

2

Describes the problem and gives a full account of the methods that were used to solve the problem. States a solution to the problem with minimal reference to why it works and what it means.

3

Clearly and concisely describes the problem. Gives a complete account of the methods used (including any interesting false starts, blocks, or breakthroughs). Provides a clear, if not complete, solution to the problem in the particular situation of the problem, and makes an attempt at explaining the general solution. Gives some reasoning behind why the solution works.

4

Clearly and concisely describes the problem and why it is interesting. Gives a complete account of the methods used (including any interesting false starts, blocks, or breakthroughs). Provides a clear and complete statement of the solution including what the solution looks like in the problem's specific context (if any) as well as the most general form appropriate, and what this solution means for the problem. Gives a well written explanation of why the solution works (why it is the solution, as appropriate).

Rubric for Reflections:

Rating

Description

1

Engages with the question in clear and readable language.

2

Uses clear and understandable language. Answers the question in a chosen context(usually general). Provides a response more specific to the writer (your own personal response).

In general, Problem reports should be between 3 and 5 pages including a paragraph description of the problem, 1 to 2 pages for the description of methods, and at least one page for the explanation of the solution. Reflections should be between 1 and 2 pages and the format is loose, depending on individual preferences. All papers should be typed up using a reasonable-sized font (12-point or so) and double spaced. Hand-drawn equations, diagrams, and tables are all fine.

 

A final note: Although the rubrics do not state it outright, form, style, and presentation are all essential to a well-written paper. Spend some time thinking about the organization of the material (it doesn't have to go: problem, methods, solution, analysis. You can sneak the solution in earlier on if it makes the paper easier to read). Most of all, making it interesting may be the best way to motivate you to write about a problem you've already solved. Try reading it out loud to your roommate and if they can't follow it without going cross-eyed or falling asleep