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The attached evaluation tool (rubric) is designed to assist in the evaluation of students’ ability to
successfully prepare and defend their research. The rubric includes seven evaluation criteria, and allows
for the addition of criteria important to individual. Evaluation of a research and its defense can be an
integral part of student learning outcomes assessment conducted by the subject. It is applicable for course

This evaluation tool will:

 provide students, prior to their defense, with a clear understanding of the elements of their written
thesis/dissertation and its defense deemed most important to the defense committee
 provide multiple perspectives on students’ ability to successfully prepare and defend their research
and engage in cogent discourse about their chosen field of study
 encourage conversations among departmental colleagues about improving learning outcomes and
 serve as a potential source of program-level data on the accomplishment of the program’s learning
outcome objectives, for submission as part of an assessment report

Suggested Instructions (may be modified to suit program needs):

Defense committee members and students should review and become familiar with the criteria in the
evaluation tool prior to the defense. The rubric should be scored at the conclusion of the defense, or
shortly thereafter, by every member of the defense committee. This cover page (page 1) can then be
completed (providing a summary of the scored ratings below for each of the criteria in the rubric),
returned to the appropriate department/program office, and maintained in a confidential departmental file
following the defense (one cover page per evaluator) for use as a valuable tool in graduate student
learning outcomes assessment. The remaining rubric pages (2 - 4) can be shared with the student or

Students name: ________________________________

Section: _____________________________________________________________________
Date of Defense: ______________________________________________________________

Defense Score Summary by Criterion:

Assessment Criteria: 1: __________ 4: __________ 7: ________
2: __________ 5: __________ 8. ________
3: __________ 6: __________ 9. ________
10. _______

EVALUATOR: ________________________________

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Assessment Criteria 10=Exceptional 8=Strong 6=Marginal 4=Unacceptable Score Score

PART I: Written Defense Draft

1. Mastery of fundamental Consistently applies Frequently applies Somewhat applies Does not apply
knowledge in the field fundamental and fundamental and some fundamental concepts to fundamental concepts to
advanced concepts to advanced concepts to topics in subject area. topics in subject area.
topics in subject area. topics in subject area.
2. Ability to access and Command and Relates and understands Aware of the research Knowledge is unrelated to
integrate information into a understanding of the the current research literature in the field. the current research
cohesive overview of current current research literature in the field. literature in the field.
knowledge; ability to critically literature in the field.
evaluate the meaning, value,
and contribution of published
literature in the field
3. Imagination and originality Problem/purpose of Problem/purpose of Problem/purpose of Problem/purpose of study
of thought study very creative or study original study moderately lacked
original with new and or creative; original or creative; creativity or not new;
innovative ideas; Design/approach Design/ approach Duplication of previous
Explored original topic appropriate or moderately appropriate work.
and discovered new innovative. or innovative.
4. Ability to design and Data interpretation is Data interpretation is Data interpretation is Data interpretation is
implement an appropriate appropriate and appropriate and uses appropriate and uses inappropriate and/or uses
collection and analysis of data creatively uses correct many correct limited number of incorrect methodology;
or ability to articulate a critical methodology; identifies methodology; identifies correct methodology; identifies no weaknesses in
response to dramatic or artistic weaknesses in some weaknesses in identifies no interpretation
theory, literature, design and interpretation; Demon- interpretation weaknesses in Demonstrates a lack of
performance in one's own strates a an advanced Demonstrates a an ability interpretation ability to articulate a critical
work or that of another artist ability to articulate a to articulate a critical Demonstrates a an response to dramatic or
critical response to response to dramatic or limited ability to artistic theory, literature,
dramatic or artistic artistic theory, literature, articulate a critical design and performance in
theory, literature, design and performance response to dramatic or one's own work or that of
design and in one's own work or artistic theory, another artist
performance in one's that of another artist literature, design and
own work or that of performance in one's
another artist own work or that of
another artist

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Assessment Criteria 10=Exceptional 8=Strong 6=Marginal 4=Unacceptable Score Score

5. Ability to draw reasoned Discussion was Discussion sufficient and Major topics or Little discussion of project
conclusions from a body of superior, accurate, and with few errors; Greater concepts inaccurately findings/outcomes;
knowledge engaging; foundation needed from described; Displayed poor grasp of
Conclusions/summaries past work in area; Considerable relevant material; Conclusion/
and recommendations Conclusions/summary discussion missing; summary not supported by
appropriate and clearly based on outcomes and Conclusions/summary findings/outcomes.
based on outcomes. appropriate, included not entirely supported
some recommendations. by findings/outcomes.
6. Impact of research on the This research study is This research study has This research study This research study has
field very relevant or fair relevance or only moderate little relevance
has significant significance/authenticity relevance or significance/authenticity
importance/ to field and will make a or significance/ to field and will make little
authenticity to field and good contribution to authenticity to field and contribution to field.
will make an important field. will make a nominal
contribution to field. contribution to field.
PART II: Oral Defense
7. Oral presentation and defense Masterfully defends Competently defends Adequately defends Does not adequately
of thesis/dissertation research by providing research research; answers defend research;
clear and insightful by providing very questions, but often does not answer key
answers to questions; helpful answers with little insight; questions; frequently
Uses presentation to questions; may frequently shows a need shows a need for deeper
resources as occasionally manifest for deeper reflection on reflection on vital points;
a guide, gives detailed need for further minor points; Relies too Reads the
explanations, is easily reflection on minor much on material from
understandable, and points; Uses presentation presentation and has presentation to make the
keeps appropriate eye resources as a guide, is difficulty speaking report and is clearly not
contact with the easily understandable, freely to the audience, comfortable with the topic.
audience. and keeps eye contact and is somewhat
with the audience with comfortable with the
the audience. topic.


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Assessment Criteria 10=Exceptional 8=Strong 6=Marginal 4=Unacceptable Score Score

8. Additional Assessment

9. Additional Assessment


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