Perfect Practice Makes Perfect: Rubrics in The Blended/Online Music Courses

Concurrent Session 7

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Music courses unique learning outcomes challenge the blended/online format and make grading difficult at best. Musicians who teach online will learn how to use their student learning outcomes to create robust rubrics as well as have the opportunity to practice. Interested in time-saving, assessment-improving strategies? Join me!


Kimberly Hale Harris, former Associate Vice President for Teaching and Learning at Collin College, currently serves Collin as a Professor of Music and the New Faculty Academy Program Coordinator, a program she created in 2011. Kimberly has extensive experience with assessment, curriculum and faculty development. Her passion for teaching and learning keeps her active in the classroom and in engaging her colleagues on how to create learning environments that allow for critical thinking and experiential learning. A long-time advocate for online learning, Kimberly created the first online music classes for Collin. A Peer-Reviewer for Quality Matters and a former member of the Online Advisory Board, Kimberly also previously served as Collin’s Associate Administrator for Distance (Learning) and Weekend College. Kimberly began her music studies at age four. She studied piano and voice privately in a variety of places including the prestigious Tanglewood Institute of Music. Kimberly received her Bachelor of Music (Sacred Music, Voice) in 1991 from Centenary College of Louisiana and her Master of Arts (Musicology) in 1994 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After carrying out research at the Vatican, Kimberly completed her dissertation 'Poetry and Patronage: Alessandro Scarlatti, the Accademia Degli Arcadia, and the Development of the Conversazione Cantata in Rome 1700-1710' and was awarded the degree of Doctorate of Philosophy in Musicology from the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas in 2005. An experienced musician who has performed from the White House to Westminster Abbey, Kimberly enjoys traveling. Her extensive travels have taken her to every continent except Antarctica. Pre-pandemic, Kimberly regularly presented for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Performance Prelude series. As an experienced presenter on topics ranging from assessment, rubrics, backward design, online learning and faculty development, to the impact of war on music and musicians, she stays active in her field as well as in the area of teaching and learning. Kimberly taught as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas, SMU and the University of Texas at Dallas. She also stays busy as a wife and the mother of two boys while volunteering her time to work with foster youth aging out of the foster care system.

Extended Abstract


For music professors, the overwhelming demands of teaching, keeping up with new technologies, professional development, college service, practicing and grading, can leave faculty exhausted and frustrated. People use the phrase “work smarter, not harder” ubiquitously. What does that look like for music faculty who teach blended or online classes? Understanding how to create rubrics based on student learning outcomes is fundamental to teaching and learning. Teaching music faculty the benefits of using their learning outcomes to create rubrics to guide assessment will increase the transparency and effectiveness of their instruction especially when used electronically within an LMS.


Rubrics, sometimes overlooked for their simplicity, make for one of the most powerful tools in the assessment arsenal. Participants will learn that when designed using the SLOs, rubrics not only provide a mechanism for feedback, but also instruction. Many instructors do not begin with the end in mind. It is important to teach music faculty the evidence-based practice of creating and using rubrics to provide a sound footing for their instruction.  Seeing the benefits of using rubrics, especially within their designated LMS, saves time for that faculty member in both the short run (weekly grading) and long run (curriculum/instruction overhauls).  Using rubrics will also save faculty time because rubrics cut down the number of capricious grading complaints, reducing student complaints that wind up with grade appeal boards or the Dean of Students. All faculty will benefit from learning this time-saving strategy that increases transparency of assessment and helps students to succeed.


During the session, participants will work in small groups to create rubric criteria using their course SLOs. Participants will share small group reflections with the larger group.  Time will be set aside for structured reflection in which participants will engage in a 3-2-1 activity. 


All who are interested in time-saving, assessment-improving strategies are welcome!