Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rubrics and figuring out where you are

In the jargon of educators a rubric is a set of criteria for assessing a type of work. Usually it includes several levels of achievement for each criterion. ((Think of a ruler or yardstick). Naturally there are rubrics for evaluating public speaking. Rubric sounds very similar to Rubik, like the very popular Rubik’s cube puzzle.

For evaluating a speech you need to consider both content and delivery. Often they each are described via four criteria, as follows:


1. Chooses a suitable topic
2. Communicates the purpose appropriately
3. Provides relevant supporting materials
4. Uses an appropriate organization pattern


1. Uses appropriate language and adapts to the audience
2. Uses vocal variety (rate, pitch, and intensity)
3. Uses nonverbal tools (body language) to support the verbal message
4. Uses suitable visual aids

In the U.S. there is a standard, single-page, Competent Speaker Speech Evaluation Form that was developed by the Speech Communication Association, which now is called the National Communication Association. A dozen colleges and universities participated in developing the current version (2007), which is described in a very detailed $18 publication. The University of Alaska Southeast has a web site with both a form and the detailed criteria for Unsatisfactory, Satisfactory, and Excellent. Tusculum College has another rubric for public speaking with ten criteria and five levels of achievement.

These rubrics evaluate a single speech. It also is useful to take a more global view of competence. In a recent post on her Self-Promotion for Introverts blog at Psychology Today, Nancy Ancowitz described her Presentation Skill Self Evaluation Tool. It has ten questions about preparation (mostly content and structure), but twenty questions about delivery. Each question calls for an answer on a scale from 1 (Poor) to 5 (Excellent). Last November in a post on the joy of figuring out where you are I discussed some other self-assessment tools from Melissa Lewis.

February 21, 2012 Update

The Competent Speaker Speech Evaluation Form can be downloaded as an Acrobat .pdf file. Google the title, add the lead editor's last name, Morreale, and it should pop up at on the very first page of results. 

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