Rubric Best Practices, Examples, and Templates
Instructors have many tasks to perform during the semester, including grading assignments and assessments. Feedback on performance is a critical factor in helping students improve and succeed. Grading rubrics can provide more consistent feedback for students and create efficiency for the instructor/grader.
A rubric is a scoring tool that identifies the different criteria relevant to an assignment, assessment, or learning outcome and states the possible levels of achievement in a specific, clear, and objective way. Use rubrics to assess project-based student work, including essays, group projects, creative endeavors, and oral presentations. Rubrics are helpful for instructors because they can help them communicate expectations to students and assess student work fairly and efficiently. Finally, rubrics can provide students with informative feedback on their strengths and weaknesses so that they can reflect on their performance and work on areas that need improvement.
How to Get Started
Best practices, moodle how-to guides.
- Workshop Recording (Fall 2022)
- Workshop Registration
Step 1: Define the Purpose
The first step in the rubric-creation process is to define the purpose of the assignment or assessment for which you are creating a rubric. To do this, consider the following questions:
- What is the assignment?
- Does the assignment break down into different or smaller tasks?
- Are these tasks equally important as the main assignment?
- What are the learning objectives for the assignment?
- What do you want students to demonstrate through the completion of this assignment?
- What would an excellent assignment look like?
- How would you describe an acceptable assignment?
- How would you describe an assignment that falls below expectations?
- What kind of feedback do you want to give students for their work?
- Do you want/need to give them a grade? If so, do you want to give them a single overall grade or detailed feedback based on a variety of criteria?
- Do you want to give students specific feedback that will help them improve their future work?
Step 2: Decide What Kind of Rubric You Will Use
Types of rubrics: holistic, analytic/descriptive, single-point
Holistic Rubric. A holistic rubric consists of a single scale with all the criteria to be included in the evaluation (such as clarity, organization, mechanics, etc.) being considered together. With a holistic rubric, the rater or grader assigns a single score (usually on a 1-4 or 1-6 point scale) based on an overall judgment of the student’s work. The rater matches an entire piece of student work to a single description on the scale.
Advantages of holistic rubrics:
- Place an emphasis on what learners can demonstrate rather than what they cannot
- Save time by minimizing the number of decisions to be made
- Can be used consistently across raters, provided they have all been trained
Disadvantages of holistic rubrics:
- Do not provide specific feedback for improvement
- Can be difficult to choose a score when a student’s work is at varying levels across the criteria
- Criteria cannot be weighted
Analytic/Descriptive Rubric . An analytic rubric resembles a grid with the criteria for an assignment listed in the left column and with levels of performance listed across the top row, often using numbers and/or descriptive tags. The cells within the center of the rubric may be left blank or may contain descriptions of what the specified criteria look like for each level of performance. When scoring with an analytic rubric, each of the criteria is scored individually.
Advantages of analytic rubrics:
- Provide feedback on areas of strength or weakness
- Each criterion can be weighted to reflect its relative importance
Disadvantages of analytic rubrics:
- More time-consuming to create and use than a holistic rubric
- May not be used consistently across raters unless the rubrics are well defined
- May limit personalized feedback to help students improve
Single-Point Rubric . Similar to an analytic/descriptive rubric in that it breaks down the components of an assignment into different criteria. The detailed performance descriptors are only for the level of proficiency. Feedback space is provided for instructors to give individualized comments to help students improve and/or show where they excelled beyond the proficiency descriptors.
Advantages of single-point rubrics:
- Easier to create than an analytic/descriptive rubric
- More likely that students will read the descriptors
- Areas of concern and excellence are open-ended removes a focus on the grade/points
- May increase student creativity in project-based assignments
- Requires more work for instructors writing feedback
Step 3: Define the Criteria
Ask yourself: What knowledge and skills are required for the assignment/assessment? Make a list of these, group and label them, and eliminate any that are not critical.
Helpful strategies for defining grading criteria:
- Review the learning objectives for the course; use the assignment prompt, existing grading checklists, peer response sheets, comments on previous work, past examples of student work, etc.
- Try describing A/B/C work.
- Consider “sentence starters” with verbs describing student performance from Bloom’s Taxonomy or other terms to indicate various levels of performance, i.e., presence to absence, complete to incomplete, many to some to none, major to minor, consistent to inconsistent, always to usually to sometimes to rarely
- Collaborate with co-instructors, teaching assistants, and other colleagues
- Brainstorm and discuss with students
- Can they be observed and measured?
- Are they important and essential?
- Are they distinct from other criteria?
- Are they phrased in precise, unambiguous language?
- Revise the criteria as needed
- Consider how you will weigh them in relation to each other
Step 4: Design the Rating Scale
Most ratings scales include between 3 and 5 levels. Consider the following questions:
- Given what students are able to demonstrate in this assignment/assessment, what are the possible levels of achievement?
- Will you use numbers or descriptive labels for these levels?
- If you choose descriptive labels, what labels are most appropriate? Will you assign a number to those labels?
- In what order will you list these levels — from lowest to highest or vice versa?
Step 5: Write Descriptions for Each Level of the Rating Scale
Create statements of expected performance at each level of the rubric. For an analytic rubric, do this for each particular criterion of the rubric. These descriptions help students understand your expectations and their performance in regard to those expectations.
Start with the top/exemplary work category –what does it look like when a student has achieved excellence in each category? Then look at the “bottom” category –what does it look like when students have not achieved the learning goals in any way? Then add the categories in between.
Also, take into consideration that well-written descriptions:
- Describe observable and measurable behavior
- Use parallel language across the scale
- Indicate the degree to which the standards are met
Step 6: Create your Rubric
- Develop the criteria, rating scale, and descriptions for each level of the rating scale into a rubric
- Include the assignment at the top of the rubric, space permitting
- For reading and grading ease, limit the rubric to a single page, if possible
- Consider the effectiveness of your rubric and revise accordingly
- Create your rubric in a table or spreadsheet in Word, Google Docs, Sheets, etc., and then transfer it by typing it into Moodle. You can also use online tools to create the rubric, but you will still have to type the criteria, indicators, levels, etc., into Moodle. Rubric creators: Rubistar , iRubric
Step 7: Pilot-test your Rubric
Prior to implementing your rubric on a live course, obtain feedback from:
- Teacher Assistants
Also, try out your new rubric on a sample of student work. After you pilot-test your rubric, analyze the results to consider its effectiveness and revise accordingly.
- Use Parallel Language . Make sure that the language from column to column is similar and that syntax and wording correspond. Of course, the words will change for each section or assignment, as will the expectations, but in terms of readability, make sure that the rubric can be easily read from left to right or vice versa. In addition, if you have an indicator described in one category, it will need to be described in the next category, whether it is about “having included” or “not having included” something. This is all about clarity and transparency to students.
- Use Student-Friendly Language . If students can’t understand the rubric, it will not be useful for guiding instruction, reflection, and assessment. If you want students to engage in using the rubric, they have to understand it. Make sure the language is learning-level appropriate. If you use academic language or concepts, you will need to teach those concepts.
- Use the Rubric with Your Students . You have to use the rubric with the students. It means nothing to them if you don’t. For students to find the rubric useful in terms of their learning, they must see a reason for using it. Students should understand that the rubric is there to help them learn, reflect, and self-assess. If students use a rubric, they will understand the expectations and their relevance to learning.
- Don’t Use Too Many Columns . The rubric needs to be comprehensible and organized. Pick the right amount of columns so that the criteria flow logically and naturally across levels.
- Common Rubrics and Templates are Awesome . Avoid rubric fatigue, as in creating rubrics to the point where you just can’t do it anymore. This can be done with common rubrics that students see across multiple classroom activities and through creating templates that you can alter slightly as needed. Design those templates for learning targets or similar performance tasks in your classroom. It’s easy to change these types of rubrics later. Figure out your common practices and create a single rubric your team can use.
- Rely on Descriptive Language. The most effective descriptions are those that use specific descriptions. This means avoiding words like “good” and “excellent.” At the same time, don’t rely on numbers, such as a number of resources, as your crutch. Instead of saying, “find excellent sources” or “use three sources,” focus your rubric language on the quality use of whatever sources students find and on the best possible way of aligning that data to the work. It isn’t about the number of sources, and “excellent” is too vague for students. Be specific and descriptive.
Example of an analytic rubric for a final paper
Example of a holistic rubric for a final paper, single-point rubric.
- Single Point Rubric Template ( variation )
- Analytic Rubric Template make a copy to edit
- A Rubric for Rubrics
- Single Point Discussion Rubric
- Mathematical Presentations Descriptive Rubric
- Math Proof Assessment Rubric
- Kansas State Sample Rubrics
- Design Single Point Rubric
Technology Tools: Rubrics in Moodle
- Moodle Docs: Rubrics
- Moodle Docs: Grading Guide (use for single-point rubrics)
Supplemental Tools with Rubrics in Moodle
- Google Assignments
- Turnitin Assignments: Rubric or Grading Form
- DELTA – Rubrics: Making Assignments Easier for You and Your Students (2/1/2022)
- DePaul University (n.d.). Rubrics. Retrieved from http://resources.depaul.edu/teaching-commons/teaching-guides/feedback-grading/rubrics/Pages/default.aspx
- Gonzalez, J. (2014). Know your terms: Holistic, Analytic, and Single-Point Rubrics. Cult of Pedagogy. Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/holistic-analytic-single-point-rubrics/
- Goodrich, H. (1996). Understanding rubrics. Teaching for Authentic Student Performance, 54 (4), 14-17. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec96/vol54/num04/Understanding-Rubrics.aspx
- Miller, A. (2012). Tame the beast: tips for designing and using rubrics. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-using-rubrics-andrew-miller
- Ragupathi, K., Lee, A. (2020). Beyond Fairness and Consistency in Grading: The Role of Rubrics in Higher Education. In: Sanger, C., Gleason, N. (eds) Diversity and Inclusion in Global Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-1628-3_3
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Math Rubric Makers
- Class Participation Rubric Generator - A great way to keep students on task! This can be used in a group setting or for individual assignments.
- General Rubric Generator - This tool allows you to make your own customized rubric. The application includes an extensive number of fields to enter.
- Homework Rubric Generator - Help your students understand your expectations for homework assignments with this rubric.
- Math Rubric Generator - This rubric is great for scoring just about any math assignment or project, even math homework.
- Presentation Rubric Generator - Decrease the pressure on your students by sharing this rubric of your expectations. This assessment tool will help your students focus on the content they are presenting.
- Project Rubric Generator - This generator can be used to help you assess student projects. Helpful for group work and/or individual class projects.
- Team Work Rubric Generator - This rubric can help you assess how students work cooperatively in a group setting.
- Timeline Rubric Generator - Assess just about any time period. This rubric will also help students identify all the parts of a properly constructed timeline.
- Basics for GSIs
- Advancing Your Skills
Examples of Rubric Creation
Creating a rubric takes time and requires thought and experimentation. Here you can see the steps used to create two kinds of rubric: one for problems in a physics exam for a small, upper-division physics course, and another for an essay assignment in a large, lower-division sociology course.
In STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), assignments tend to be analytical and problem-based. Holistic rubrics can be an efficient, consistent, and fair way to grade a problem set. An analytical rubric often gives a more clear picture of what a student should direct their future learning efforts on. Since holistic rubrics try to label overall understanding, they can lead to more regrade requests when compared to analytical rubric with more explicit criteria. When starting to grade a problem, it is important to think about the relevant conceptual ingredients in the solution. Then look at a sample of student work to get a feel for student mistakes. Decide what rubric you will use (e.g., holistic or analytic, and how many points). Apply the holistic rubric by marking comments and sorting the students’ assignments into stacks (e.g., five stacks if using a five-point scale). Finally, check the stacks for consistency and mark the scores. The following is a sample homework problem from a UC Berkeley Physics Department undergraduate course in mechanics.
Solve for position and speed along a projectile’s trajectory.
Desired Traits: Conceptual Elements Needed for the Solution
- Decompose motion into vertical and horizontal axes.
- Identify that the maximum height occurs when the vertical velocity is 0.
- Apply kinematics equation with g as the acceleration to solve for the time and height.
- Evaluate the numerical expression.
A note on analytic rubrics: If you decide you feel more comfortable grading with an analytic rubric, you can assign a point value to each concept. The drawback to this method is that it can sometimes unfairly penalize a student who has a good understanding of the problem but makes a lot of minor errors. Because the analytic method tends to have many more parts, the method can take quite a bit more time to apply. In the end, your analytic rubric should give results that agree with the common-sense assessment of how well the student understood the problem. This sense is well captured by the holistic method.
A holistic rubric, closely based on a rubric by Bruce Birkett and Andrew Elby:
[a] This policy especially makes sense on exam problems, for which students are under time pressure and are more likely to make harmless algebraic mistakes. It would also be reasonable to have stricter standards for homework problems.
The following is an analytic rubric that takes the desired traits of the solution and assigns point values to each of the components. Note that the relative point values should reflect the importance in the overall problem. For example, the steps of the problem solving should be worth more than the final numerical value of the solution. This rubric also provides clarity for where students are lacking in their current understanding of the problem.
Try to avoid penalizing multiple times for the same mistake by choosing your evaluation criteria to be related to distinct learning outcomes. In designing your rubric, you can decide how finely to evaluate each component. Having more possible point values on your rubric can give more detailed feedback on a student’s performance, though it typically takes more time for the grader to assess.
Of course, problems can, and often do, feature the use of multiple learning outcomes in tandem. When a mistake could be assigned to multiple criteria, it is advisable to check that the overall problem grade is reasonable with the student’s mastery of the problem. Not having to decide how particular mistakes should be deducted from the analytic rubric is one advantage of the holistic rubric. When designing problems, it can be very beneficial for students not to have problems with several subparts that rely on prior answers. These tend to disproportionately skew the grades of students who miss an ingredient early on. When possible, consider making independent problems for testing different learning outcomes.
Sociology Research Paper
An introductory-level, large-lecture course is a difficult setting for managing a student research assignment. With the assistance of an instructional support team that included a GSI teaching consultant and a UC Berkeley librarian [b] , sociology lecturer Mary Kelsey developed the following assignment:
This was a lengthy and complex assignment worth a substantial portion of the course grade. Since the class was very large, the instructor wanted to minimize the effort it would take her GSIs to grade the papers in a manner consistent with the assignment’s learning objectives. For these reasons Dr. Kelsey and the instructional team gave a lot of forethought to crafting a detailed grading rubric.
- Use and interpretation of data
- Reflection on personal experiences
- Application of course readings and materials
- Organization, writing, and mechanics
For this assignment, the instructional team decided to grade each trait individually because there seemed to be too many independent variables to grade holistically. They could have used a five-point scale, a three-point scale, or a descriptive analytic scale. The choice depended on the complexity of the assignment and the kind of information they wanted to convey to students about their work.
Below are three of the analytic rubrics they considered for the Argument trait and a holistic rubric for all the traits together. Lastly you will find the entire analytic rubric, for all five desired traits, that was finally used for the assignment. Which would you choose, and why?
Three-point scale, simplified three-point scale, numbers replaced with descriptive terms.
For some assignments, you may choose to use a holistic rubric, or one scale for the whole assignment. This type of rubric is particularly useful when the variables you want to assess just cannot be usefully separated. We chose not to use a holistic rubric for this assignment because we wanted to be able to grade each trait separately, but we’ve completed a holistic version here for comparative purposes.
Final Analytic Rubric
This is the rubric the instructor finally decided to use. It rates five major traits, each on a five-point scale. This allowed for fine but clear distinctions in evaluating the students’ final papers.
[b] These materials were developed during UC Berkeley’s 2005–2006 Mellon Library/Faculty Fellowship for Undergraduate Research program. M embers of the instructional team who worked with Lecturer Kelsey in developing the grading rubric included Susan H askell-Khan, a GSI Center teaching consultant and doctoral candidate in history, and Sarah McDaniel, a teaching librarian with the Doe/Moffitt Libraries.
How to Use Rubrics
A rubric is a document that describes the criteria by which students’ assignments are graded. Rubrics can be helpful for:
- Making grading faster and more consistent (reducing potential bias).
- Communicating your expectations for an assignment to students before they begin.
Moreover, for assignments whose criteria are more subjective, the process of creating a rubric and articulating what it looks like to succeed at an assignment provides an opportunity to check for alignment with the intended learning outcomes and modify the assignment prompt, as needed.
Rubrics are best for assignments or projects that require evaluation on multiple dimensions. Creating a rubric makes the instructor’s standards explicit to both students and other teaching staff for the class, showing students how to meet expectations.
Additionally, the more comprehensive a rubric is, the more it allows for grading to be streamlined—students will get informative feedback about their performance from the rubric, even if they don’t have as many individualized comments. Grading can be more standardized and efficient across graders.
Finally, rubrics allow for reflection, as the instructor has to think about their standards and outcomes for the students. Using rubrics can help with self-directed learning in students as well, especially if rubrics are used to review students’ own work or their peers’, or if students are involved in creating the rubric.
How to design a rubric
1. consider the desired learning outcomes.
What learning outcomes is this assignment reinforcing and assessing? If the learning outcome seems “fuzzy,” iterate on the outcome by thinking about the expected student work product. This may help you more clearly articulate the learning outcome in a way that is measurable.
2. Define criteria
What does a successful assignment submission look like? As described by Allen and Tanner (2006), it can help develop an initial list of categories that the student should demonstrate proficiency in by completing the assignment. These categories should correlate with the intended learning outcomes you identified in Step 1, although they may be more granular in some cases. For example, if the task assesses students’ ability to formulate an effective communication strategy, what components of their communication strategy will you be looking for? Talking with colleagues or looking at existing rubrics for similar tasks may give you ideas for categories to consider for evaluation.
If you have assigned this task to students before and have samples of student work, it can help create a qualitative observation guide. This is described in Linda Suskie’s book Assessing Student Learning , where she suggests thinking about what made you decide to give one assignment an A and another a C, as well as taking notes when grading assignments and looking for common patterns. The often repeated themes that you comment on may show what your goals and expectations for students are. An example of an observation guide used to take notes on predetermined areas of an assignment is shown here .
In summary, consider the following list of questions when defining criteria for a rubric (O’Reilly and Cyr, 2006):
- What do you want students to learn from the task?
- How will students demonstrate that they have learned?
- What knowledge, skills, and behaviors are required for the task?
- What steps are required for the task?
- What are the characteristics of the final product?
After developing an initial list of criteria, prioritize the most important skills you want to target and eliminate unessential criteria or combine similar skills into one group. Most rubrics have between 3 and 8 criteria. Rubrics that are too lengthy make it difficult to grade and challenging for students to understand the key skills they need to achieve for the given assignment.
3. Create the rating scale
According to Suskie, you will want at least 3 performance levels: for adequate and inadequate performance, at the minimum, and an exemplary level to motivate students to strive for even better work. Rubrics often contain 5 levels, with an additional level between adequate and exemplary and a level between adequate and inadequate. Usually, no more than 5 levels are needed, as having too many rating levels can make it hard to consistently distinguish which rating to give an assignment (such as between a 6 or 7 out of 10). Suskie also suggests labeling each level with names to clarify which level represents the minimum acceptable performance. Labels will vary by assignment and subject, but some examples are:
- Exceeds standard, meets standard, approaching standard, below standard
- Complete evidence, partial evidence, minimal evidence, no evidence
4. Fill in descriptors
Fill in descriptors for each criterion at each performance level. Expand on the list of criteria you developed in Step 2. Begin to write full descriptions, thinking about what an exemplary example would look like for students to strive towards. Avoid vague terms like “good” and make sure to use explicit, concrete terms to describe what would make a criterion good. For instance, a criterion called “organization and structure” would be more descriptive than “writing quality.” Describe measurable behavior and use parallel language for clarity; the wording for each criterion should be very similar, except for the degree to which standards are met. For example, in a sample rubric from Chapter 9 of Suskie’s book, the criterion of “persuasiveness” has the following descriptors:
- Well Done (5): Motivating questions and advance organizers convey the main idea. Information is accurate.
- Satisfactory (3-4): Includes persuasive information.
- Needs Improvement (1-2): Include persuasive information with few facts.
- Incomplete (0): Information is incomplete, out of date, or incorrect.
These sample descriptors generally have the same sentence structure that provides consistent language across performance levels and shows the degree to which each standard is met.
5. Test your rubric
Test your rubric using a range of student work to see if the rubric is realistic. You may also consider leaving room for aspects of the assignment, such as effort, originality, and creativity, to encourage students to go beyond the rubric. If there will be multiple instructors grading, it is important to calibrate the scoring by having all graders use the rubric to grade a selected set of student work and then discuss any differences in the scores. This process helps develop consistency in grading and making the grading more valid and reliable.
Types of Rubrics
If you would like to dive deeper into rubric terminology, this section is dedicated to discussing some of the different types of rubrics. However, regardless of the type of rubric you use, it’s still most important to focus first on your learning goals and think about how the rubric will help clarify students’ expectations and measure student progress towards those learning goals.
Depending on the nature of the assignment, rubrics can come in several varieties (Suskie, 2009):
This is the simplest kind of rubric, which lists specific features or aspects of the assignment which may be present or absent. A checklist rubric does not involve the creation of a rating scale with descriptors. See example from 18.821 project-based math class .
Rating Scale Rubric
This is like a checklist rubric, but instead of merely noting the presence or absence of a feature or aspect of the assignment, the grader also rates quality (often on a graded or Likert-style scale). See example from 6.811 assistive technology class .
A descriptive rubric is like a rating scale, but including descriptions of what performing to a certain level on each scale looks like. Descriptive rubrics are particularly useful in communicating instructors’ expectations of performance to students and in creating consistency with multiple graders on an assignment. This kind of rubric is probably what most people think of when they imagine a rubric. See example from 15.279 communications class .
Holistic Scoring Guide
Unlike the first 3 types of rubrics, a holistic scoring guide describes performance at different levels (e.g., A-level performance, B-level performance) holistically without analyzing the assignment into several different scales. This kind of rubric is particularly useful when there are many assignments to grade and a moderate to a high degree of subjectivity in the assessment of quality. It can be difficult to have consistency across scores, and holistic scoring guides are most helpful when making decisions quickly rather than providing detailed feedback to students. See example from 11.229 advanced writing seminar .
The kind of rubric that is most appropriate will depend on the assignment in question.
Rubrics are also available to use for Canvas assignments. See this resource from Boston College for more details and guides from Canvas Instructure.
Allen, D., & Tanner, K. (2006). Rubrics: Tools for Making Learning Goals and Evaluation Criteria Explicit for Both Teachers and Learners. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 5 (3), 197-203. doi:10.1187/cbe.06-06-0168
Cherie Miot Abbanat. 11.229 Advanced Writing Seminar. Spring 2004. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu . License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA .
Haynes Miller, Nat Stapleton, Saul Glasman, and Susan Ruff. 18.821 Project Laboratory in Mathematics. Spring 2013. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu . License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA .
Lori Breslow, and Terence Heagney. 15.279 Management Communication for Undergraduates. Fall 2012. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu . License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA .
O’Reilly, L., & Cyr, T. (2006). Creating a Rubric: An Online Tutorial for Faculty. Retrieved from https://www.ucdenver.edu/faculty_staff/faculty/center-for-faculty-development/Documents/Tutorials/Rubrics/index.htm
Suskie, L. (2009). Using a scoring guide or rubric to plan and evaluate an assessment. In Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd edition, pp. 137-154 ) . Jossey-Bass.
William Li, Grace Teo, and Robert Miller. 6.811 Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology. Fall 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu . License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA .
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Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence
Nicole Messier, CATE Instructional Designer June 28th, 2022
WHAT? Heading link Copy link
Rubrics usually consist of a table, grid, or matrix.
Rubrics are criterion-referenced grading tools that describe qualitative differences in student performance for evaluating and scoring assessments. Criterion-referenced grading refers to students being evaluated based on their performance against a set of criteria. Whereas norm-referenced grading refers to students being assessed through the comparison of student performances.
Rubrics usually consist of a table, grid, or matrix that contain information on how students’ learning and performance will be measured. Rubrics can be designed for a specific assessment. For example, a rubric can be used to grade a written assignment in Week 1 of a course. Or rubrics can be designed for a general purpose, like the grading of all the discussion posts or journal entries in an entire course.
Elements of a Rubric Heading link Copy link
Elements of a rubric.
Most rubrics will contain the following elements:
- Grading criteria
- Performance levels
- Weight and scoring
- Description of grading criteria
These elements along with the number of rows or columns will vary based on the type of rubric you chose to design. Please see the Types of Rubrics section below for more information and examples of these elements in different types of rubrics.
Performance Levels Heading link Copy link
Grading criteria heading link copy link, grading criteria.
Grading criteria refer to what students will do (performance) and what instructors will measure and score. Grading criteria should have a direct alignment with the learning objectives. This alignment will improve the validity and reliability of the assessment (see the WHY section of this teaching guide for more information on improving validity and reliability). There are two main types of grading criteria: concrete and abstract grading criteria.
Concrete Grading Criteria
Concrete grading criteria are criteria that can be viewed and assessed with less interpretation and subjectivity. Examples include:
- Content knowledge or declarative knowledge (about a topic or learning objective)
- Procedural knowledge (knowledge about how to do a task or action)
- Conditional knowledge (knowledge about why or when to do an action)
- Art composition
- Argument with justification or defense
- Accuracy or correctness
- Information literacy (supporting ideas with research and creating new information from research)
- Writing mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization)
For example, you might develop a rubric or checklist for weekly math assignments that includes grading criteria for procedural knowledge (showing work), conditional knowledge (explaining why they used a formula or operation), and accuracy (correctness of answer).
Abstract Grading Criteria
Abstract grading criteria are grading criteria that are interpreted and are considered more subjective than concrete grading criteria. Examples include:
- Critical thinking
- Problem-solving skills
- Decision-making or reasoning skills
- Communication or expression of ideas
- Development of new ideas
- Organization or cohesion of writing
For example, you might develop a rubric for a piece of art that includes concrete grading criteria for procedural knowledge (demonstration of specific technique), composition of the piece, as well as abstract grading criteria for creativity and decision-making skills.
It is important to note that abstract grading criteria can be difficult for students to know what the expectations are and how to demonstrate those expectations. Abstract grading criteria can be described in a rubric to help students understand the expectations.
Rubric performance levels are usually labeled with a column heading that can be a numeric point value, percentage, letter grade, or heading title. For example:
- 100% – A level of performance could use any of the following terms as a heading: Exemplary, outstanding, distinguished, exceptional, excellent, expert, etc.
- 80% – B level of performance could use any of the following terms as a heading: Proficient, above average, accomplished, etc.
- 70% – C level of performance could use any of the following terms as a heading: Satisfactory, competent, average, acceptable, etc.
- 60% – D level of performance could use any of the following terms as a heading: Developing, emerging, approaching, novice, etc.
- 50% – F level of performance could use any of the following terms as a heading: Beginning, rudimentary, needs revision, no evidence, etc.
The above terms can be used as headings for your rubric columns or as adjectives to describe grading criteria at that performance level. It is recommended to utilize the same column headings for all the rubrics developed for a specific course. For example, if you select “Outstanding” for an A level of performance column heading then you should utilize the same column heading for the A level of performance in all your rubrics.
Descriptions of Grading Criteria
Rubrics contain descriptions of grading criteria. These descriptions should be aligned to the learning objectives being assessed and will support students’ understanding of the assessment expectations. For example, you have the learning objective: Synthesize information and ideas from multiple texts and sources. You label the grading criteria as “Information Literacy” and you describe the grading criteria in an analytic rubric at five performance levels as follows:
- 100% – A level – Outstanding synthesis of information and ideas from multiple credible sources with exceptional cohesion of information presented.
- 80% – B level – Concise synthesis of information and ideas from multiple credible sources with cohesion of information presented.
- 70% – C level – Adequate synthesis of information and ideas from multiple credible courses.
- 60% – D level – Attempted synthesis of information and ideas and/or missing multiple or credible sources.
- 50% – F level – Submission did not demonstrate synthesis of information or ideas, missing multiple and/or credible sources, please revise and resubmit.
See the HOW section of this teaching guide to learn tips for writing criteria descriptions.
Types of Rubrics Heading link Copy link
Types of rubrics.
There are several types of rubrics to choose from based on what you want to measure, how much feedback you want to provide, and how you want to assess performance, including:
- Single-point rubric
- Analytic rubric
- Holistic rubric
Single-Point Rubric Heading link Copy link
Single-point rubrics are used to measure learning based on one level of performance for the grading criteria and provide an opportunity for discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of students performance. The single-point rubric has only one column describing a passing level of performance and rows for each grading criterion.
The instructor grades each criterion as either “does not meet the criterion,” “meets the criterion,” or “exceeds the criterion.” And the instructor provides individualized feedback on any criterion that is graded as “does not meet the criterion” or “exceeds the criterion” for students to understand their scores.
Weight and Scoring of Single-Point Rubrics Heading link Copy link
Weight and scoring of single-point rubrics.
Single-point rubrics will have a total number of points or a percentage for the assessment. And each grading criteria in a single-point rubric will have a point or percentage value. Typically, the “meets the criterion” column will be awarded the total points or an A or B value. For example, the assessment is worth 25 points and contains three criteria.
The total points need to be distributed to each of the criteria (criterion I is worth 5 points, criterion II is worth 10 points, and criterion III is worth 10 points). Students who meet all three criteria will be awarded 25 points.
When should I use a single-point rubric?
- Small class sizes (under 25 students)
- Involves less time to develop
- Requires more time to grade and score because students need more personalized feedback to understand their performance and score
- Supports conversations about performance
- Can be used for formative and summative assessments
- Appropriate for on-campus or hybrid course modalities
- If using video or audio feedback, it can be adapted for online course modalities
- Best suited for a single user (one instructor)
Grading the Making a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with a Single-Point Rubric Heading link Copy link
Grading the making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a single-point rubric, analytic rubric heading link copy link, analytic rubric.
Analytic rubrics are used to evaluate grading criteria separately to provide students with detailed feedback on their performance. The analytic rubric typically has three to five columns to describe performance levels and rows for each grading criterion to be described separately. The instructor grades each criterion at varying levels of performance, and students can read the description to understand their performance and scores.
Weight and Scoring of an Analytic Rubric
Analytic rubrics will have a total number of points or a percentage for the assessment. And each grading criteria will have a point or percentage value. For example, the assessment is worth 25 points and contains three criteria. The total points need to be distributed to each of the criteria (criterion I is worth 5 points, criterion II is worth 10 points, and criterion III is worth 10 points). Next, the grading criteria points are broken down further by performance level in an analytic rubric.
- Criterion I is worth 5 points – the highest level is worth 5 points (100%), the next level is worth 4 points (80%), and the last level is worth 3 points (60%).
- Criterion II is worth 10 points – the highest level is worth 10 points (100%), the next level is worth 8 points (80%), and the last level is worth 6 points (60%).
- Criterion III is worth 10 points – the highest level is worth 10 points, the next level is worth 8 points (80%), and the last level is worth 6 points (60%).
When should I use an analytic rubric?
- All class sizes
- Involves more time to develop
- Requires less time to grade and score (if the scorer is familiar with the rubric)
- Provides more descriptive feedback in a formative assessment to help students improve performance
- Appropriate for any course modality
- Should be used in online asynchronous course modalities to support student understanding of expectations
- Utilized by multiple instructors and/or TAs
Grading the Making a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with An Analytic Rubric Heading link Copy link
Grading the making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with an analytic rubric, holistic rubric heading link copy link, holistic rubric.
Holistic rubrics are used to evaluate overall competence or ability when grading criteria can’t be separated, or when you want a holistic view of student progress. The holistic rubric typically has around three to five columns to describe performance levels and one row for all the criteria to be described together. The instructor grades the entire assessment at one level of performance and provides the student with individualized feedback identifying what criteria caused their performance to be scored at that level.
Holistic Rubrics Heading link Copy link
Weight and scoring of a holistic rubric.
In a holistic rubric, the grading criteria are not broken down and the weighting occurs in the performance levels. For example, the assessment is worth 25 points and contains five levels of performance (the highest level is worth 25 points (100%), the next level is worth 20 points (80%), the third level is worth 15 points (60%), and the fourth level is worth 10 points (40%), and the last level is worth 9 or less points (0 to 39%).
When should I use a holistic rubric?
- Best suited for summative assessments to measure overall competence or quality of students’ work.
Grading the Making a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with a Holistic Rubric Heading link Copy link
Grading the making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a holistic rubric, checklist heading link copy link.
Checklists are used to measure criteria that have a correct answer or evidence of correctness or completion (e.g., math, engineering, programming, etc.). The checklist has two columns for performance levels and rows for each grading criterion. Checklist columns are typically labeled with “Yes or No” or “Correct or Incorrect.”
Checklists Heading link Copy link
Weight and scoring for checklists.
Checklists will have a total number of points or a percentage for the assessment. And each grading criteria in a checklist will have a point or percentage value.
For example, the assessment is worth 25 points and contains three criteria. The total points need to be distributed to each of the criteria (criterion I is worth 5 points, criterion II is worth 10 points, and criterion III is worth 10 points).
When should I use a checklist?
- Involves less time to develop and grade
- Provides a breakdown of grading criteria
- Used for “Yes or No” or “Correct or Incorrect” performance levels
- Best suited for criteria where there is a correct answer or evidence of correctness or completion: math, engineering, programming, etc.
Grading the Making a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with a Checklist Heading link Copy link
Grading the making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a checklist, additional text heading link copy link.
See the HOW section of this teaching guide to learn more about designing rubrics and review examples of rubric types.
WHY? Heading link Copy link
Impact of rubric use.
Research has shown that the use of rubrics has a positive impact on instruction and learning for students and instructors.
Rubrics impact student performance and learning positively (Abdel-Magid, 2020; Hazels, 2020; Nkhoma, 2020) by:
- Informing students of the expectations for an assignment, including explaining the grading criteria, alignment to learning objectives, and how to meet the performance standards.
- Improving student motivation, self-efficacy, engagement, and satisfaction.
- Promoting self-regulation of learning (time and effort) to reach instructors’ expectations.
- Influencing students’ cognitive and metacognitive performance in the assessment, including the ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in their performance.
- Providing qualitative feedback to support students’ future learning and performance.
Rubrics also impact instructors’ grading, scoring, and assessment practices positively (Abdel-Magid, 2020; Hazels, 2020; Nkhoma, 2020) by:
- Providing improved alignment of instructions, expectations, and grading practices, as well as clarity and transparency of the course learning objectives. The rubric design process provides instructors with opportunities to reflect and review the course and learning objectives’ alignment to the assessments and grading criteria.
- Reducing grading time and overall faculty workload by utilizing the clickable rubrics built in the Blackboard LMS. This reduced workload will allow for more planning of formative assessment and practice opportunities with feedback to improve student outcomes.
- Improving the consistency, accuracy, and objectivity of grading and scoring will help to prevent or reduce bias in grading by making judgments based on students’ actual performance of the grading criteria. And this consistency, accuracy, and objectivity can potentially reduce students’ questions and arguments about grading, scoring, and fairness.
- Collecting reliable and valid data for decision-making and continuous quality improvements (see the next section for information on validity and reliability). The consistent use of rubrics will collect data on student performance based on grading criteria aligned to the course and learning objectives for the course.
Improving Validity and Reliability of Assessments Heading link Copy link
Improving validity and reliability of assessments.
Research has shown that the validity and reliability of assessments can be improved through the development and utilization of rubrics.
The validity of an assessment can be described as how well the assessment measures what it was designed to measure. This type of validity is often called face validity or logical validity; in other words, the assessment appears to do what it claims to do (based on face value).
Rubric design improves the alignment of the course and learning objectives with the assessment, and this helps increase the validity of the assessments (Jescovitch, et.al, 2019). Rubric development also improves the alignment of cognitive levels or complexity of the assessment with the course and learning objectives, again improving the validity. Also, the validity of an assessment can be improved by avoiding construct underrepresentation and construct-irrelevant variance through the designing of a rubric.
Construct Underrepresentation Heading link Copy link
Construct underrepresentation and construct-irrelevant variance.
Construct underrepresentation refers to when an assessment is too narrow and doesn’t include elements of the construct (course or learning objective). The data collected will not have face, content, or construct validity because the assessment omitted aspects (e.g., the assessment doesn’t capture key aspects of the learning objective it was designed to measure). Content validity refers to how well an assessment measures all facets of an item, and how well it represents or gauges the entire domain (e.g., how well the assessment measures the entirety of the learning objectives). Construct validity refers to how well the assessment collects evidence to support interpretations, appropriateness of inferences, and what the data reflects (e.g., does the data collected allow you to make sound decisions about current instruction or continuous quality improvements).
For example, the evaluation of a piece of art might exclude the composition of the artwork or the grading of an oral presentation might miss the communication of the content (Lin, 2020). The rubric design process helps to ensure that no elements are missing, and all aspects of the construct are being evaluated to improve content and construct validity.
Construct-irrelevant variance refers to when an assessment contains excess or uncontrollable variables that distort the data collected (e.g., the assessment contains grading criteria that are not aligned to the task or learning objectives, or assesses skills and knowledge not taught in the course).
For example, an assessment for an oral presentation has grading criteria for costumes or props. This grading criterion isn’t aligned to the assessment and might cause an assessment bias , a grading criterion that unfairly penalizes students because of personal characteristics (Lin, 2020). In the case of the costume or props criteria, more affluent students could afford better costumes or props and may receive a better grade. This bias would cause an unfairness in grading, and data collected wouldn’t have face, content, or construct validity.
It is essential to review your rubrics to ensure that your grading will be focused on the construct (learning objectives) and that it isn’t missing any elements of the construct or adding any excessive or uncontrollable variables that might distort data or cause an assessment bias.
Reliability of Assessments Heading link Copy link
The reliability of an assessment can be described as how well the evaluation and measurement of student performance are consistent and repeatable.
In other words, the consistency of grading and scoring practices from student to student and term to term will influence the reliability of data collected. Rubrics can improve the internal consistency reliability and rater reliability of an assessment.
Internal Consistency Reliability Heading link Copy link
Internal consistency reliability and rater reliability.
Internal consistency reliability refers to the interrelatedness of the assessment items and the accuracy of what is measured (e.g., assessments that are directly aligned to the learning objectives would have questions that measure the same construct). Rubric development can enhance the internal consistency reliability of an assessment through the analysis and alignment of learning objectives.
Rater reliability can be described in two sub-categories: intra-rater reliability and inter-rater reliability. Intra-rater reliability refers to how an instructor might grade and score differently based on external circumstances (e.g., one day the instructor is healthy and feeling good and the next day the instructor has a migraine while grading).
Inter-rater reliability refers to how two different instructors might grade and score differently based on what they value (e.g., one instructor might score the organization and technical language in a paper with more weight than another instructor who scores formatting and mechanics with more weight).
Rubric utilization can provide consistent grading criteria that can be repeated under different conditions improving intra-rater reliability (sick instructor) and inter-rater reliability (multiple instructors or TAs). It is important to note that there can still be discrepancies and inconsistencies among multiple instructors or TAs while utilizing a rubric. Please review the HOW section of this teaching guide to learn ways to reduce grading and scoring discrepancies and inconsistencies in order to improve inter-rater reliability.
HOW? Heading link Copy link
Selecting the right rubric type for your assessment (and course) is the first step in rubric design. After you decide what type of rubric you want to design, you will need to determine how you will design the rubric.
As an instructor, you can design a rubric, or you can co-construct a rubric. See the below sections for steps on either designing a rubric or co-constructing a rubric with your students.
Instructor Rubric Design Heading link Copy link
Instructor rubric design.
The following steps will support you as you design a rubric:
- Title the rubric using the title of the assessment you want to grade and score.
- Identify the grading criteria that you want to measure. Remember your grading criteria should be directly aligned to the course and learning objectives.
- Determine how the grading criteria should be assessed: holistically, separately, with a yes/no, etc.
- Single-point rubric – has one column describing a passing performance (typically an A value) and rows for each grading criterion.
- Analytic rubric – has between three to five columns to describe performance levels and rows for each grading criterion separately.
- Holistic rubric – has between three to five columns to describe performance levels but with only one row as the criteria are described together.
- Checklist – has two columns (for yes and no) and rows for each grading criterion.
- Describe the grading criteria (please see Writing Criteria Descriptions below for more information).
- Assign points or percentages for each grading criterion (single-point rubric, analytic rubric, or checklist).
- Describe levels of performance for each criterion and assign points or percentages for each level of performance (analytic rubric or holistic rubric).
- Review your rubric for mutually exclusive language for levels of performance and student-centered language to ensure student understanding of expectations.
- Utilize the rubric tool in Blackboard to build a clickable rubric for grading and a viewable rubric for students.
- Implement the rubric (without making changes) for the entire term. Reflect on the use of the rubric and identify areas of improvement to make adjustments to criteria, descriptions, or weight for the next term.
For more information on building rubrics in your course site visit the Blackboard Grading and Assessments page on the CATE website to view the Getting Started with Rubrics section.
Co-Constructing Rubrics with Students
You can co-construct rubrics with students by first sharing a work sample with them. This work sample could be an exemplar (exemplary work sample) or could be an average work sample (B performance level).
The following steps will support you as you co-construct an analytic rubric with your students:
- Share the course and learning objectives that will be measured by the rubric with students.
- Share the exemplar (exemplary work sample) or average work sample with students.
- Break students into groups either synchronously or asynchronously (using a collaborative tool like Jamboard , Google slides, Padlet , Trello , etc.) and ask them to identify what the potential grading criteria might be.
- Bring students back together and remove any redundancies in the grading criteria.
- Once you have the grading criteria, you can choose to continue the rubric development with your students or without them.
- If you choose to continue with students, then ask students to determine the weight of each criterion for the assessment.
- Next, you can break students into groups and have each group describe a different grading criterion at a set number of performance levels (e.g., A, B, C, D).
- Collect all the descriptions and create one analytic rubric from each group’s descriptions.
- Ask students to review, check for mutually exclusive language, and discuss any changes needed as a class.
Tips for Writing Criteria Descriptions Heading link Copy link
Tips for writing criteria descriptions.
You will need to describe the grading criteria, regardless of the type of rubric or checklist you select. Consider the following tips for writing descriptions of the grading criteria.
No Duplication of Criteria
Criterion descriptions should not contain duplication of criteria within the description; in other words, you should not have two grading criteria that assess the same attribute or element (e.g., critical thinking or formatting, etc.). Each criterion should be specific without duplications in grading.
For example, you have created a checklist that has one criterion for showing work and another criterion for the correct answer. The correct answer criterion should only assess the correctness of the final answer, not the demonstration of the correct problem-solving in the work; this element should be assessed in the showing work criterion.
Mutually Exclusive Language
Adjectives and adverbs can be used to help describe the grading criteria at different performance levels but should be mutually exclusive. Mutually exclusive language means that an adjective used to describe the performance at the highest level shouldn’t be used to describe the performance at the next level. For example, you have used the adjective “thorough” to describe the level of details provided at the exemplary level. So, you should not use the same adjective to describe the proficient level of performance or the subsequent level.
Please note that the following list is not all-encompassing and should be viewed as a starting point for describing grading criteria.
- 100% – A level of performance could be described with any of the following terms: Exemplary, outstanding, distinguished, exceptional, well-developed, excellent, comprehensive, thorough, robust, expert, extensive, etc.
- 80% – B level of performance could be described with any of the following terms: Proficient, above average, accurate, complete, skillful, accomplished, clear, concise, consistent, etc.
- 70% – C level of performance could be described with any of the following terms: Satisfactory, competent, average, adequate, reasonable, acceptable, basic, sufficient, etc.
- 60% – D level of performance could be described with any of the following terms: Developing, attempted, emerging, approaching, novice, partial, etc.
- 50% – F level of performance could be described with any of the following terms: Beginning, rudimentary, rarely, seldom, needs revision, no evidence, etc.
It is important to be consistent with the use of adjectives when developing a rubric or checklist. This consistency will help support student understanding of expectations as well as improve inter-rater reliability if more than one instructor or TA is utilizing the rubric for grading and scoring.
Tangible, Supportive, and Qualitative Terms
As you begin describing criteria, make sure to focus on the tangible items that can be more objectively measured. For example, if there is a grading criterion for the overall quality of the work, avoid adding subjective elements like “effort.” A student who has not developed the skills yet to perform highly on the assessment might have put in a lot of effort but may have still performed poorly.
Try to use supportive language when describing criteria that help instill a growth mindset in students. And try to avoid negative language that may demotivate students. For example, instead of describing a criterion as “lacking” an element, use the word “missing, developing, or beginning.” Also, consider using terminology like “attempted” at the C or D level; this helps recognize students’ efforts.
Lastly, when describing the grading criteria focus on the quality of the work. Utilize descriptions that help highlight the work’s quality and focus less on quantifying the students’ work. For example, if you have a grading criterion for the mechanics of writing, you can describe it without counting errors in a paper.
- The Exemplary level of performance could be described as “professional language used in a 2-page report with minimal to no errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.”
- The Proficient level of performance could be described as “professional language used in a 2-page report with minor errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization (e.g., misplaced punctuation, homophone errors – to, too, two).”
- The Satisfactory level of performance could be described as “professional language used in a 2-page report with errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization (e.g., capitalization errors, missing punctuation, grammar, etc.) but still able to understand the point of view.”
- The Developing level of performance could be described as “attempted professional language in a 2-page report with numerous errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization that distract and cause unreadability.”
Start with the Highest Performance Level
If creating an analytic rubric or a holistic rubric, it is recommended to start with the description for the highest level of performance (exemplary level). This level would typically receive an A percentage or point value.
Once you describe the highest level of performance then you can focus on the next level and then the next level, etc. Once you have described all the criteria for the rubric, make sure to check that you are not duplicating criteria and have mutually exclusive language.
Using Exemplars with Rubrics Heading link Copy link
Using exemplars with rubrics.
Just as you can use an exemplar (exemplary work sample) to co-construct a rubric with your students; you can also use exemplars with your instructor-designed rubrics. These exemplars help to improve student understanding of the rubric and increase the inter-rater reliability of rubrics when multiple graders are using them (see the WHY section of this guide for more information on reliability).
Not all students will understand the criterion descriptions in your rubric, so by providing an exemplar students can compare the descriptions in the rubric with the work sample. Providing an exemplar will also help other instructors or TAs to understand what the rubric descriptions mean, which will, in turn, improve their consistency in grading and scoring and will positively influence the inter-rater reliability of the assessment.
Tips for Using Exemplars
- Exemplars can be former students’ work (with permission), published work (with permission), or instructor work.
- Present features of the exemplar during a class session and deconstruct the rubric using the exemplar to illustrate what the rubric descriptions mean.
- Think of exemplars as a guide for students to know how to start. Students will understand the expectations of the structure, style, layout, content, etc.
- Have students use the exemplar and rubric to self-assess their own work. Students will develop the ability to analyze their work to determine strengths and weaknesses and the ability to know how to make it better.
Guiding Questions for Rubrics Heading link Copy link
Guiding questions for rubrics.
Consider the following questions to improve the validity and reliability of the assessment as you develop and review your rubrics (Lin, 2020):
- Does the rubric measure the learning objective(s) adequately?
- Does the rubric include aspects that are irrelevant to the learning objective(s) and/or task?
- Do the descriptions for grading criteria contain tangible, supportive, and qualitative terms?
- Does the rubric include any aspects that could potentially reflect assessment biases?
- Are the grading criteria distinct from one another and use mutually exclusive language?
- Are the grading criteria weighted appropriately?
- Are the levels of performance weighted appropriately?
- Is the rubric paired with an exemplar (exemplary work sample) to support students and multiple instructors’ understanding of expectations?
EXAMPLES AND TEMPLATES Heading link Copy link
- Single-Point Rubric Template
- Single-Point Rubric for Music Performance
- Single-Point Rubric for an Authentic Assessment
- Analytic Rubric Template
- Analytic Rubric for a Presentation
- Analytic Rubric for Art
- Analytic Rubric for Group Work
- Holistic Rubric Template
- Holistic Rubric for Written Assignment
- Holistic Rubric for Discussion Participation
- Holistic Rubric for Essay Response
- Checklist Template
- Checklist for Computer Programming Assignment
- Checklist for a Math Assignment
- Checklist for a Science Report
CITING THIS GUIDE Heading link Copy link
Citing this guide.
Messier, N. (2022). “Rubrics.” Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois Chicago. Retrieved [today’s date] from https://teaching.uic.edu/resources/teaching-guides/assessment-grading-practices/rubrics/
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Heading link Copy link
Articles, websites, and videos.
Eberly Center. (n.d.). Grading and performance rubrics. Carnegie Mellon University.
Gonzalez, J. (2014). Know your terms: Holistic, analytic, and single-point rubrics. Cult of Pedagogy
Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Creating and using rubrics. Yale University.
Teaching Commons. (n.d.). Rubrics. DePaul University.
REFERENCES Heading link Copy link
Abdel-Magid, T., Abdel-Magid, I. (2020). Grading of an assessment rubric. 10.13140/RG.2.2.16717.38887.
Al-Ghazo, A., Ta’amneh, I. (2021). Evaluation and grading of students’ writing: Holistic and analytic scoring rubrics. Journal for the Study of English Linguistics. 9. 77. 10.5296/jsel.v9i1.19060.
Al-Salmani, F., Thacker, B. (2021). Rubric for assessing thinking skills in free-response exam problems. Physical Review Physics Education Research. 17. 10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.17.010135.
Hazels, T., Schutte, K., McVay, S. (2020). Case study in using integrated rubrics in assessment. Journal of Education and Culture Studies. 4. p81. Doi: 10.22158/jecs.v4n3p81. http://dx.doi.org/10.22158/jecs.v4n3p81
Jescovitch, L., Scott, E., Cerchiara, J., Doherty, J., Wenderoth, M., Merrill, J., Urban-Lurain, M., Haudek, K. (2019). Deconstruction of holistic rubrics into analytic rubrics for large-scale assessments of students’ reasoning of complex science concepts.
Lin, R. (2020). Rubrics for scoring, interpretations and decision-making. 10.4324/9780429022081-5.
Nkhoma, C., Nkhoma, M., Thomas, S., Le, N. (2020). The role of rubrics in learning and implementation of authentic assessment: A literature review. 237-276. 10.28945/4606.
Smyth, P., To, J., Carless, D. (2020). The interplay between exemplars and rubrics.
Tomas, C., Whitt, E., Lavelle-Hill, R., Severn, K. (2019). Modeling holistic marks with analytic rubrics.
A rubric is a learning and assessment tool that articulates the expectations for assignments and performance tasks by listing criteria, and for each criteria, describing levels of quality (Andrade, 2000; Arter & Chappuis, 2007; Stiggins, 2001). Rubrics contain four essential features (Stevens & Levi, 2013):
A description of performance quality give students a clear idea about what must be done to demonstrate a certain level of mastery, understanding, or proficiency (i.e., "excellent" does xyz, "fair" does only xy or yz, "poor" does only x or y or z). Rubrics can be used for any assignment in a course, or for any way in which you ask students to demonstrate what they've learned. They can also be used to facilitate self and peer-reviews of student work.
A rubric can be analytic or holistic. An analytic rubric articulates different dimensions of performance and provides ratings for each dimension. A holistic rubric describes the overall characteristics of a performnace and provides a single score. Here are some pros and cons:
2. Why You Should Consider Rubrics
Rubrics help instructors :
- Provide students with feedback that is clear, directed and focused on ways to improve learning.
- Demystify assignment expectations so students can focus on the work instead of guessing "what the teacher wants."
- Adapt your approach to teaching aspects of a course based on thematic gaps in student learning that are easily identified by reviewing rubrics across a class.
- Develop consistency in how you evaluate student learning across students and throughout a class.
- Reduce time spent on grading; Increase time spent on teaching.
Rubrics help students :
- Focus their efforts on completing assignments in line with clearly set expectations.
- Self and Peer-reflect on their learning, making informed changes to achieve the desired learning level.
3. Getting Started with Rubrics
STEP 1: Clarify task/performance expectations.
STEP 2: Identify the characteristics of student performances. What is it that students are supposed to demonstrate (skills, knowledge, behaviors, etc.)? [components/dimensions]
STEP 3: Identify how many mastery levels are needed for each performance component/dimension. Decide what score should be allocated for each level. [scale]
STEP 4: Describe performance characteristics of each component/dimension for each mastery level. [performance descriptor]
STEP 5: Pilot-test the rubric with a few sample papers and/or get feedback from your colleagues (and students) on the rubric. Revise the rubric.
4. Rater Training and Calibrartion
In order to provide consistent and reliable rating, those who will be rating student work or performance need to be familiar with the rubric and need to interpret and apply the rubric in the same way. To calibrate ratings among raters, a rating orientation can be useful.
Steps involved in rater training and calibration:
Step 1: Explain how to use the rubric. Familiarize faculty with the categories and levels. For each mastery level, provide one sample with annotations of the features found in student work that capture the rating criteria.
Step 2: Provide two samples of student performance/work that represents different levels of mastery (mask the ratings). Have faculty rate them independently applying the rubric.
Step 3: Gather faculty’s ratings to show the agreement on the rating.
Step 4: Discuss scoring inconsistencies and reasons behind different ratings. Revise/clarify the rubric, if necessary.
Step 5: Once consensus is made on the ratings and when faculty feel comfortable with using the rubric, proceed with individual ratings of student work/performance. Provide faculty with rating sheet and explain the procedure (e.g., two raters for one sample).
5. Rubric Examples
Sample rubrics from berkeley faculty: .
- Sociology Department: Writing assessment rubric
- Sociology Department: Rubric for Grading an Analytical Essay , from Sociology Department
- Rubric for Evaluating Written Assignments (pdf)
- International and Area Studies: Honors Thesis Rubric
- International and Area Studies: Honors Thesis Evaluation Form
- Sample Research Paper, Annotated Bibliography, and Reflection
Other rubric samples:
- Group presentation rubric (UC Davis): http://dhc.ucdavis.edu/includes/pdf/Group_Research_Presentations_Rubric.pdf (link is external)
- Research paper rubric (George Mason University): http://ctfe.gmu.edu/teaching/grading/sample-rubric-for-grading-a-research-paper/ (link is external)
- Lab report rubric (University of Michigan): http://www.crlt.umich.edu/gsis/p7_11 (link is external)
- Dissertation proposal rubric (Purdue University): http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ira/assess/pdf/Purdue_PhD_DissertationRubric.pdf (link is external)
- AAC&U VALUE rubrics (Rubrics on: Civic Engagement, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Ethical Reasoning, Information Literacy, Inquiry Analysis, Integrative Learning, Intercultural Competence, Lifelong Learning, Oral Communication, Problem Solving, Quantitative Literacy, Global Learning, Reading, Teamwork, Written Communication): http://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics/pdf/All_Rubrics.pdf (link is external)
- University of Maryland: http://openedpractices.org/files/CT%20and%20research%20Univ.%20of%20MD%20CTE.pdf (link is external)
- Rubric for Integration of Student Learning Assessment into Program Reviews
- Rubric for Assessing the Quality of Academic Program Learning Outcomes
- Rubric for Assessing the Use of Portfolios for Assessing Program Learning Outcomes
- Rubric for Evalutating General Education Assessment Process
- The Educational Effectiveness Framework: Capacity & Effectiveness as They Relate to Student and Institutional Learning
- Rubric for Assessing the use of Capstone Experiences for Assessing Program Learning Outcomes
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Exemplars performance material includes standards-based rubrics that define what work meets today's standards, allowing teachers and students to distinguish between different levels of performance.
Our rubrics have four levels of performance: Novice, Apprentice, Practitioner (meets the standard), and Expert . Exemplars uses two types of rubrics:
- Standards-Based Assessment Rubrics are used by teachers to assess student work in Math, Science, and Writing.
- Student Rubrics are used during peer- and self-assessments and feature kid-friendly language and symbols.
Students may also use our Assessment Rubrics (and anchor papers ) to compare their work to during peer- and self-assessments.
Science rubrics, writing rubrics, introducing rubrics to students, assessment rubrics, standards-based math rubric.
This rubric was updated in 2014 to reflect more current standards. It supports NCTM Process Standards and the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice .
Classic 5-Criteria Math Rubric
This rubric was developed to reflect the revised NCTM standards.
Classic 3-Criteria Math Rubric
This rubric was used from 1993 to 2001 to assess student performance. It is based on the original NCTM standards. Many schools and districts using Exemplars earlier material continue to use this rubric to assess student performance.
Pre K–K Rubric
This rubric was developed to assess younger students' performance. It is based on recommendations from NCTM and the preschool standards developed at the Conference on Standards for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Mathematics Education.
This rubric uses pieces of a jigsaw puzzle as symbols. It is appropriate to use with younger students who may not be able to follow the words in another rubric.
This rubric is appropriate to use with older children. They can self-assess by drawing a line on the thermometer. The teacher can also assess by making a mark on the same rubric.
Standards-Based Science Rubric
This rubric is based on science standards from the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
K–2 Science Continuum
This continuum was developed by an Exemplars workshop leader and task writer, Tracy Lavallee. It provides a framework for assessing the scientific thinking of young students.
This rubric is appropriate for use with younger children. It shows how a seed develops, from being planted to becoming a flowering plant. Each growth level represents a different level of performance.
What I Need to Do
While not exactly a rubric, this guide assists students in demonstrating what they have done to meet each criterion in the rubric. The student is asked in each criterion to describe what they need to do and the evidence of what they did.
Responding to Text Rubric
This rubric is designed to be used with students in grades K–4 and focuses on analytic writing about texts. The Rhetorical Effectiveness Criteria include: purpose, organization, voice and tone as well as detail/elaboration. There are three levels of performance. The use of conventions is also assessed.
This rubric was designed to be used with students in grades K–4 and incorporates the qualities of writing a narrative. The Rhetorical Effectiveness Criteria include: purpose, organization, voice and tone as well as detail/elaboration. There are three levels of performance. The use of conventions is also assessed.
A rubric is an assessment guide that reflects content standards and performance standards. Rubrics describe the features expected for student work to receive each of the levels/scores on the chosen scale. An assessment rubric tells us what is important, defines what work meets a standard, and allows us to distinguish between different levels of performance.
Students need to understand the assessment guide that is being used to assess their performance. Teachers often begin this process by developing rubrics with students that do not address a specific content area. Together, they develop rubrics around classroom management, playground behavior, homework, lunchroom behavior, following classroom expectations with a substitute teacher, etc. Developing rubrics with students around the best chocolate chip cookie, sneaker, crayon, etc. is also an informative activity to help students understand performance levels. After building a number of rubrics with students, a teacher can introduce the Exemplars rubric. Since the students will have an understanding of what an assessment guide is, they will be ready to focus on the criteria and performance levels of the rubric.
Sample Introductory Rubrics
Below are rubrics that have been developed by teachers in Vermont. They are meant to stir your imagination as you decide what assessment guide would be best to begin with your students.
It is very important to have your students develop their own first rubric. Sharing, adjusting, or using the rubrics below can be done after your students have experienced the process for themselves.
- Lunchroom Rubric
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Rubric
- Student Set-Up Rubric
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As an assessment tool, a rubric sets the criteria for evaluating performance or work completed in a course or program. A rubric can communicate the expectations for learning and provide a framework for instructors to make decisions about instruction.
Rubrics are used for both formative assessment (in-process feedback to be used for improvement) and summative assessment (evaluation of student learning at the conclusion of an assignment or project). Essentially, a rubric is a tool for communication between instructor and student.
Rubrics promote good practice in:
- Communication : A rubric creates a common framework and clear expectations
- Consistency and Fairness : Same criteria and standards across students and reviewers/graders
- Transparency : Progress and grades are clear, reduces mystery
- Faster Assessment : Assessment and evaluation can be done more efficiently
- Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses : Shows where students are doing well and where they need more support (Is it a ‘B’ paper all the way through?)
- Objective Criteria : Rubrics are criterion-referenced, rather than norm-referenced. Raters ask, "Did the student meet the criteria for level 5 of the rubric?" rather than "How well did this student do compared to other students?"
On this page : Introduction to Rubrics
See also : Co-Creating Rubrics with Students , Using Rubrics for Peer Review
Introduction to Rubrics
This recorded presentation provides a brief introduction to rubrics for use in university courses. In the presentation, you will learn about the appropriate uses for rubrics and become familiar with the essential components of designing a rubric for class assignments. For more in-depth study, please see the additional resources listed below.
0:00:00.531,0:00:06.960 [Stephanie Foster:] Hello! This is introduction to rubrics. I'm Stephanie Foster,
0:00:06.960,0:00:11.280 Assessment Lead in the Center for Teaching & Learning at the University of Colorado Boulder.
0:00:11.840,0:00:16.400 In this session, you will learn about the appropriate uses for rubrics and become
0:00:16.400,0:00:20.800 familiar with the essential components of designing a rubric for class assignments
0:00:22.880,0:00:30.720 The use of rubrics as an assessment tool dates back to the mid-1990s. So, not so long ago.
0:00:30.720,0:00:36.480 Rubrics have since been growing in popularity and use in higher education since at least 2005
0:00:36.480,0:00:40.000 and are currently being used in many different contexts.
0:00:41.120,0:00:47.040 A rubric is a guide that articulates the expectations for an assignment and communicates
0:00:47.040,0:00:54.160 the level of quality for performance or learning. Rubrics are typically used to score student
0:00:54.160,0:01:00.160 performance on defined criteria and levels of quality, or intellectual or skill development
0:01:00.160,0:01:08.160 over time. Rubrics can be simple and short or complex; they can be qualitative, providing
0:01:09.920,0:01:16.800 feed– narrative feedback, or quantitative, providing numerical scores. Or all of the above.
0:01:18.400,0:01:22.400 There are two main types of rubrics used in higher education:
0:01:22.400,0:01:28.000 the analytic rubric is what we'll spend our time talking about today but I'd like to show you both.
0:01:28.000,0:01:33.200 So the analytic rubric specifies at least two characteristics to be assessed at each performance
0:01:33.200,0:01:39.520 level and provides a separate score for each characteristic. You would use analytic rubrics
0:01:39.520,0:01:46.480 for identifying particular strengths and areas of improvement across a research paper, for instance,
0:01:47.360,0:01:51.760 and you can use it to provide detailed formative feedback on student work.
0:01:53.280,0:01:58.720 A holistic rubric, on the other hand, provides a single score based on an overall impression
0:01:58.720,0:02:04.560 of a student's performance on a task. You should use a holistic rubric when a single dimension is
0:02:04.560,0:02:11.520 adequate, so perhaps you have a short assignment or you want to give quick or summative feedback.
0:02:12.480,0:02:19.440 I'd like to show you an example of both an analytic and a holistic rubric used for the
0:02:19.440,0:02:25.920 same task. When I was at George Mason University, I created a product rubric
0:02:25.920,0:02:30.960 for the– looking at the results of undergraduate research products.
0:02:33.600,0:02:42.720 So for this purpose, we defined an analytic rubric. We wanted to understand the dimensions
0:02:42.720,0:02:46.640 of what went into that student product. Now, a student product might be
0:02:47.600,0:02:55.920 a research paper or report; it might be a poster at an event; but basically this is the the end of
0:02:55.920,0:03:02.480 their work so this is summative evaluation. So you see the dimensions listed on the left, starting
0:03:02.480,0:03:09.200 with articulation of problem purpose or focus and continuing down the line to quality of delivery.
0:03:10.320,0:03:16.160 So in this case, in this rubric, you will see that the dimensions
0:03:17.280,0:03:23.840 are then aligned with four levels of performance, from expert to novice, and in each–
0:03:24.800,0:03:32.400 each lines up with a description of student performance. So in this case we're looking at the
0:03:32.400,0:03:39.920 fourth dimension down, analysis or interpretation. You'll see that at the emerging level, the product
0:03:39.920,0:03:45.840 would show that the student used evidence to support a limited analysis of the problem
0:03:46.400,0:03:52.480 and that their interpretation is partially linked to the theoretical framework or scholarly model.
0:03:53.680,0:03:58.800 If you just move up to the proficient level of performance, you'll see that there there's
0:03:58.800,0:04:04.080 an improvement the evidence now supports an adequately complex analysis of the problem
0:04:04.640,0:04:09.040 and the interpretation is adequately linked to the theoretical framework or
0:04:09.040,0:04:17.200 scholarly model. And as you see improvement, you can move up into the expert category. Now,
0:04:18.240,0:04:22.880 one of the really great uses of an analytic rubric is that you can define
0:04:22.880,0:04:28.560 where specifically where students are performing really well and other areas where they're
0:04:28.560,0:04:34.720 performing not so well. So they may be stronger in articulating their problem, for instance,
0:04:34.720,0:04:41.840 and weaker in, say, their quality of delivery or their implications or impact.
0:04:43.200,0:04:49.520 Now for that same product that we're looking at, we could use a holistic rubric and here's the
0:04:49.520,0:04:55.120 example. So you'll notice we use the same four levels of performance from expert to novice,
0:04:55.120,0:05:00.880 but in this case there's a very brief summary under each of those–
0:05:02.800,0:05:09.840 under each of those scales. So, the reason we designed the rubric in this way
0:05:10.560,0:05:15.840 is that the– we had two different purposes in mind. The first was that the analytic rubric
0:05:15.840,0:05:25.920 would be used by the instructor or the mentor to look in-depth at a student product. We felt like
0:05:25.920,0:05:30.480 that instructor or mentor was the only person who could really look at the product in that detail.
0:05:31.680,0:05:37.120 But we were also holding celebrations of scholarship and presentations where students would
0:05:37.120,0:05:44.080 present their work or show their posters in poster sessions, and we wanted to be able to
0:05:44.880,0:05:52.400 do an assessment of those products quickly by reviewers who were not the mentors, so we would
0:05:52.400,0:05:58.640 need something where they could very quickly assess the entire product and give it one score
0:05:59.280,0:06:07.120 so both the analytic and the holistic rubrics are– have important uses at certain times.
0:06:09.440,0:06:15.840 Now why should you use rubrics? Essentially, a rubric is a communication tool between the
0:06:15.840,0:06:24.000 instructor and the student. So a rubric creates a common framework and clear expectations for
0:06:24.000,0:06:32.800 how students will perform. It creates consistency and fairness using the same criteria and standards
0:06:32.800,0:06:39.760 across all of the students in your class, and across reviewers or multiple graders. I
0:06:39.760,0:06:45.440 should note here that it's important that if you are using multiple reviewers or graders
0:06:45.440,0:06:53.360 that you need to spend time training them on the rubric and norming their scoring across
0:06:54.000,0:07:00.880 samples, so that graders are not interpreting the language in different ways, and thus this
0:07:00.880,0:07:06.240 consistency and fairness notion would kind of go out the window. So you want to make sure
0:07:06.240,0:07:10.880 that everybody's using this in the same way to promote consistency and fairness.
0:07:12.320,0:07:20.720 Rubrics can promote transparency, so that progress towards a final product and grades are clear.
0:07:20.720,0:07:28.240 It reduces mystery when and helps students to understand why they earn the grade or the feedback
0:07:28.240,0:07:36.560 that they receive. Some faculty think that rubrics can be used for faster assessment and it can be
0:07:36.560,0:07:43.840 done more efficiently when you have a rubric with well-defined categories and criteria for success.
0:07:44.480,0:07:50.320 Now I might add here that it's important when you're giving student feedback that you always add
0:07:50.320,0:07:57.040 something particular to that student work: that you don't only use the rubric but that students
0:07:57.040,0:08:02.640 also receive written feedback and comments from you that are specific to their assignment.
0:08:04.000,0:08:07.280 Rubrics can be used to identify strengths and weaknesses, so
0:08:08.000,0:08:12.720 using the example that I just showed you, it could show exactly where students are
0:08:12.720,0:08:18.000 doing well and where they need more support. So usually when students earn a B on a paper,
0:08:19.440,0:08:25.280 you assess the paper in a holistic way to earn a B but there are specific components that are not
0:08:25.280,0:08:32.800 all earning B grades. You may have strengths in some areas and areas maybe the conclusion was not
0:08:32.800,0:08:40.080 a B, maybe the conclusion was a D, but overall the student performed well, but this could really help
0:08:40.080,0:08:46.880 to identify specific strengths and weaknesses. And finally, rubrics are used for objective criteria.
0:08:46.880,0:08:54.400 Rubrics are criterion-referenced: this means that you compare all student work against the
0:08:54.400,0:09:04.880 criteria for success, and not norm-referenced, so you're not comparing students to each other. So
0:09:04.880,0:09:13.360 when should you use rubrics? A rubric can be used for assignments for which there's more more than
0:09:13.360,0:09:18.320 one answer, so really, there's no point in using rubrics for a multiple choice exam, for instance;
0:09:20.000,0:09:25.040 you can use rubrics for formative or summative assessment and what's the difference here? I
0:09:25.040,0:09:30.640 really like what evaluator Robert Stake wrote, that when the cook tastes the soup,
0:09:30.640,0:09:35.600 that's formative. You still have time to improve it. But when the guests eat the soup,
0:09:35.600,0:09:42.480 that's summative, you're done. So– so you can use rubrics in both a formative and a summative way.
0:09:44.800,0:09:54.240 You can use rubrics for both process or product or performance. A process element might be something
0:09:54.240,0:09:58.800 like how well a student communicated with team members for a group project.
0:10:00.160,0:10:06.640 A product or performance might be a final research paper or the performance of a choreography.
0:10:08.800,0:10:16.640 Rubrics are very useful when done appropriately for peer review so students can use rubrics to
0:10:16.640,0:10:22.560 look at each other's work and get feedback for improvement. And finally, rubrics
0:10:22.560,0:10:28.480 are useful for self assessment and improvement. This can promote higher-order thinking such as
0:10:28.480,0:10:34.080 critical thinking and self-reflection, and can communicate that back with their instructor.
0:10:38.560,0:10:46.000 Now let's talk about how do you create a rubric? In its simplest form, a rubric includes five
0:10:46.000,0:10:53.360 things. The essentials are a task description, the outcomes or dimensions to be rated
0:10:53.360,0:10:59.840 (these are the rows of the rubric), the levels of performance or the scale (those are the columns),
0:11:00.640,0:11:06.400 a description of each characteristic at each level of performance or scale (this– this is the content
0:11:06.400,0:11:13.840 of each of the cells), and a scoring strategy. We are going to focus on numbers one through four
0:11:14.480,0:11:18.080 the scoring strategy will be covered in a separate presentation.
0:11:19.760,0:11:24.880 So I'm going to continue to use the example that I showed you earlier from George Mason University;
0:11:25.520,0:11:30.800 you should have a link to that in the content on the website where you're viewing this video right
0:11:30.800,0:11:37.280 now. A task description: so on the first page there's actually quite a bit of text
0:11:37.280,0:11:42.640 but if you sort through that text, ultimately you'll find the task description. This rubric
0:11:42.640,0:11:46.800 is designed to evaluate the product of an undergraduate research or creative project.
0:11:47.520,0:11:51.760 Products may include written documents, poster presentations,
0:11:51.760,0:11:56.240 oral presentations or performances, artistic expressions, and interviews.
0:11:58.720,0:12:03.040 So when you write your rubric, you should be very clear about the activity, the assignment,
0:12:03.040,0:12:08.720 the performance or presentation that's being assessed. Okay, the next
0:12:09.520,0:12:16.640 uh– when you take a look at an analytic rubric, you'll see these uh different pieces. So you want
0:12:16.640,0:12:23.440 to define your dimensions. Your dimensions are either about the product or performance,
0:12:23.440,0:12:28.000 which we've discussed, so, for instance, the use of evidence to make an argument
0:12:28.000,0:12:33.520 could be a dimension, the use of examples could be a dimension, or the organization of ideas,
0:12:34.240,0:12:42.240 or it can be about process. So we use the example of communication for teamwork, for example,
0:12:42.240,0:12:48.080 or did the student follow proper protocols. This is whether they– how they perform the process
0:12:49.040,0:12:55.600 of producing the work. And across the top you'll see the scales or level of– levels of performance.
0:12:55.600,0:13:00.560 This describes how well the task is performed. So you might have different levels:
0:13:00.560,0:13:06.160 you could have language describing those levels such as exemplary, proficient, or needs work;
0:13:06.880,0:13:11.440 complete, partial, or none; or you could have letter grades across the top.
0:13:14.880,0:13:20.800 So let's look at dimensions or outcomes and in this case I'm continuing to use the example
0:13:20.800,0:13:26.880 of this– the product rubric. The outcomes or dimensions to be rated, these are the rows;
0:13:26.880,0:13:34.400 these are the skills knowledge and or behavior to be demonstrated. You should specify which skills,
0:13:34.400,0:13:39.920 knowledge, or behaviors you are looking for here, and limit the characteristics to those that are
0:13:39.920,0:13:47.120 most important to the assignment. So one thing I want to caution faculty on here is something I see
0:13:47.120,0:13:54.960 quite often and that is when I interview faculty about an assignment they say, "I want students to
0:13:55.520,0:14:02.800 develop critical thinking skills. I want them to understand how to use multiple sources to
0:14:02.800,0:14:09.360 make an argument." They almost never say things like, "I want students to use proper grammar,"
0:14:09.360,0:14:15.520 "I want them to use proper syntax and have no spelling errors," and yet when I take a look at
0:14:15.520,0:14:23.680 their rubric, their rubric significantly weights things like grammar, syntax, and spelling errors.
0:14:24.320,0:14:33.040 So if those are things that you want to grade students on, then those things need to be included
0:14:33.040,0:14:39.280 in your rubric and be clearly spelled out. Now of course you're going to have
0:14:40.640,0:14:45.680 things that happen in student assignments that are unexpected. Maybe somebody does something
0:14:45.680,0:14:52.640 that is wonderful and you want to reward them for that. Maybe they do something unexpected in
0:14:53.760,0:14:58.960 various ways and you want to be able to comment on that. You should always leave room for
0:14:58.960,0:15:04.640 the the unexpected or the wonderful things that you see in student work. But by defining these,
0:15:05.360,0:15:12.560 and clarifying these expectations, you do that not only for the student but for yourself.
0:15:14.080,0:15:18.560 Now when you're thinking about scales or levels of performance, these are the labels that you
0:15:18.560,0:15:24.800 use to describe the levels of performance, and they should be clear and meaningful. One
0:15:24.800,0:15:34.240 of the things that I like to do that I prefer is to always have positive language. Positive
0:15:34.240,0:15:40.320 and developmental language. So what I mean by developmental is that we know that students
0:15:40.320,0:15:47.360 are learning and growing and we want to represent that. So this is not representing a failure,
0:15:47.360,0:15:53.520 but that you are performing at a certain level and we know that you'll be able to improve. Now of
0:15:53.520,0:15:59.520 course you may use letter grades, or you may use a word, uh, instead of "novice" here you might have
0:15:59.520,0:16:04.720 "unacceptable," or maybe that's off the scale: maybe you also have an unacceptable category or
0:16:05.280,0:16:10.480 maybe you just don't see an element in the student work at all, so they're required
0:16:10.480,0:16:15.840 to articulate their problem and maybe they don't do that at all. So that's not a novice,
0:16:15.840,0:16:23.200 that's– that's a zero because they didn't do that and so you just need to be clear what you expect.
0:16:27.440,0:16:35.200 So when you're completing in an analytic rubric, the description of each of these dimensions
0:16:35.200,0:16:44.720 at– and according to each level of performance, it's good practice to start with the top category.
0:16:44.720,0:16:50.720 So this describes the best work you expect using all of the characteristics. And then define the
0:16:50.720,0:16:56.560 lowest category. What's an unacceptable product, or the bare minimum that you expect to see? And
0:16:56.560,0:17:04.080 then develop the descriptions of the intermediate level products in the categories. You should make
0:17:04.080,0:17:10.320 sure that the language from column to column is similar, and that your syntax and wording are
0:17:10.320,0:17:18.560 aligned. So you should use specific descriptions, avoiding words like "good" or "excellent" but use
0:17:18.560,0:17:24.800 words that are clearer to students and provide areas that they can use to improve.
0:17:26.880,0:17:34.240 I like to start my list of outcomes with the content, ideas, arguments, and then move
0:17:34.240,0:17:40.560 to things like organization, grammar, and citation if those things are being evaluated.
0:17:45.040,0:17:52.240 Now what I've given to you today has been a very brief introduction to rubrics with not
0:17:52.240,0:17:57.360 a lot of examples. If rubrics is something that you really want to learn more about,
0:17:57.360,0:18:02.240 there are a couple really great books on the subject, pretty recent books;
0:18:02.240,0:18:07.600 the second one, "Introduction to Rubrics," should probably be on every faculty member's shelf.
0:18:09.920,0:18:17.760 And one more slide; I want to talk about expanding our use of rubrics. So, a 2009
0:18:17.760,0:18:24.960 review of research on the use of rubrics in higher education found that students tended to think of
0:18:24.960,0:18:32.560 rubrics as helping them learn and achieve, so, that formative use of rubrics, while instructors
0:18:32.560,0:18:39.200 focused almost exclusively on rubric use for quick grading. So there's a bit of a mismatch there,
0:18:40.000,0:18:44.720 and I think that the way that students are looking at it is the way that I look at it,
0:18:44.720,0:18:51.600 although I do enjoy quick grading myself, but I'd like to encourage you to think about using rubrics
0:18:51.600,0:18:57.280 as an instructional guide instead of or in addition to the use for grading. So
0:18:57.280,0:19:03.920 how can you use rubrics to help provide a richer, more complex communication
0:19:04.880,0:19:11.840 to students about expectations and about their ability to to grow and to learn
0:19:11.840,0:19:18.240 through this assignment? But here's the key: you can't just hand out the rubric to students. They
0:19:18.240,0:19:25.280 must be taught how to use it for self-assessment and improvement. They must get practice and
0:19:25.280,0:19:31.600 understand the language. So this is important for self-assessment and for peer assessment as well.
0:19:33.360,0:19:40.800 Rubrics can be developed to assess learning performance over time, such as in a portfolio from
0:19:41.520,0:19:48.480 one semester, from multiple semesters, or over the course of a student's academic career. Portfolios
0:19:48.480,0:19:58.000 are very often used in certain academic fields such as teaching or education programs; they
0:19:58.000,0:20:07.680 are often used in performance or visual arts, for example; and in a variety of other areas as well.
0:20:09.760,0:20:13.680 Rubrics can be used to assess learning across sections of the same course.
0:20:14.240,0:20:21.440 So if you want to understand, for instance, the impact of different teaching strategies across the
0:20:22.160,0:20:28.560 different sections or other elements, you might use a rubric to do that kind of assessment,
0:20:28.560,0:20:34.640 or across courses. So you can use the same rubric for similar kinds of assignments
0:20:34.640,0:20:41.280 across courses. And finally, rubrics can be used in a very interesting way as a program
0:20:42.080,0:20:48.640 guide to make decisions about [a] program's curriculum and program assessment tools. So
0:20:48.640,0:20:56.240 rubrics can be used for faculty to have shared understandings about what students are learning,
0:20:57.280,0:21:03.040 where you want to see students go, and, ultimately, what the values of the department
0:21:03.600,0:21:09.440 are in that program. And it can also be used to then create program assessment tools such
0:21:09.440,0:21:19.760 as surveys uh and– and other kinds of um and to guide other kinds of assessment and evaluation.
- Slides shown in the video presentation (PDF).
- Example rubric in the video: George Mason University Students as Scholars Product Rubric , 2013 (PDF).
- Rubric template (Word document).
Good Practices for Creating Rubrics
In its simplest form, a rubric includes five things:
- A task description: The activity, assignment, performance, or presentation being assessed.
- The outcomes or dimensions to be rated (rows): The skills, knowledge, and/or behavior to be demonstrated. Specify the skills, knowledge, and/or behaviors that you will be looking for. Limit the characteristics to those that are most important to the assignment.
- Not meeting, approaching, meeting, exceeding
- Exemplary, proficient, marginal, unacceptable
- Advanced, intermediate high, intermediate, novice
- Complete, partial, minimal, none
- Letter grades (A, B, C, D, F)
- Describe the best work you expect using these characteristics. This describes the top category.
- Describe an unacceptable product. This describes the lowest category.
- Develop descriptions of intermediate-level products for intermediate categories.
- Make sure that the language from column to column is similar, that syntax and wording are aligned.
- Use specific descriptions, avoiding words like “good” and “excellent.”
- Start your list of outcomes with the content, ideas, and arguments, then organization, grammar, and citation (if being evaluated)
- A scoring strategy
- Test the rubric by applying it to samples of student work.
- Share the rubric with colleagues.
- Review feedback and revise.
Good Practices for Using Rubrics*
Use Student-Friendly Language
Use language that is appropriate to the level of the course and your students. If you are using academic or disciplinary language, make sure you spend time teaching and practicing the concepts.
Share the Rubric with Students
Share the rubric with the assignment prompt so that students are familiar with your expectations. This should help students master your learning outcomes by guiding their work in appropriate directions.
Use the Rubric to Grade Student Work
Use the rubric to grade student work and return the rubric with the grading on it. Faculty save time writing extensive comments by marking relevant segments of the rubric. Some instructors include space for additional comments on the rubric, either within each section or at the end.
Develop the Rubric with Students
Students can monitor themselves and their peers using agreed-upon criteria that they help develop. Have students apply your rubric to sample products before they create their own. The ability to evaluate, edit, and improve draft documents is an important skill.
Use the Rubric for Peer Review
Have students exchange paper drafts and give peer feedback using the rubric. Then, give students time to revise before submitting the final draft to you. You might also require that they turn in the draft and peer-scored rubric with their final paper.
Use the Rubric for Student Self-Assessment
Students assess their own work using the rubric and submit the rubric with their assignment. This is a great basis for deep discussion about which aspects they can improve.
*This content was adapted with gratitude from work done by the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Office of Assessment, 2018
Further Reading & Resources
Selke, M. J. G. (2013). Rubric assessment goes to college: Objective, comprehensive evaluation of student work. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. J. (2013). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning (second edition). Sterling, VA: Stylus.
University of Wisconsin–Madison Examples & Resources (webpage; section on Responding, Evaluating, Grading)
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Our Polytechnic Advantage
Creating and using rubrics for assessment, in this section, tools and ideas for creating your rubrics.
Many of these rubrics grew out of a long-term commitment to building alternative assessments in our Instructional Design , and Math Specialist and Teaching and Assessing Writing online courses.
Video Conferencing Rubric
Our Top Five Rubrics
- Online Discussion
- Video Project
- Middle School/High School Group Work
- Elementary Teamwork
Quick Links to Rubrics
- Discussion, Teamwork, and Group Work Rubrics
- ePortfolio and Web Page Rubrics
- Concept Map and Graphic Organizer Rubric
- Video and Multimedia Project Rubrics
- Math and Science Rubrics
- Virtual Simulations and Games Rubric
- Research Process Rubrics
- Writing Rubrics
- Rubrics for Primary Grades
- Presentation Rubrics
Tools for Creating Your Rubrics
Video Conferencing Rubric Maggie Rouman's rubric assesses real-time sessions to foster community, present topics, and enhance learning.
Podcast Rubric Ann Bell's rubric helps students assess what makes a good podcast.
PowerPoint Rubric 10 performance categories
Oral Presentation Rubric (Word doc)
VoiceThread Participation Rubric (pdf) Michelle Pacansky-Brock's general formative assessment is used when students view a mini video lecture/presentation. Contributions are rated on originality, comprehension, and clarity.
Oral Presentation Checklist 4Teachers.org provides an online tool to customize the checklist for your grade level
Effective Project Presentations Buck Institute for Education (BIE) rubric for high school presentations
Speaking and Writing Rubrics bilingual education (English and Spanish) Spanish Partial-Immersion Program Rubrics for Writing and Speaking in English and Spanish for Grades 1-5
Social Media Project Rubrics
Wiki Rubric Criteria for assessing individual and group Wiki contributions.
Blog Rubric Assess individual blog entries, including comments on peers' blogs.
Twitter Rubric Assess learning during social networking instructional assignments.
Discussion, Teamwork, and Group Work Rubrics
Online Discussion Board Rubric Criteria for assessing the ability to share perspectives, refine thoughts through the writing process, and participate in a meaningful discussion Primary Grade Self-Evaluation Teamwork Rubric (PDF) Features of a sandwich to graphically show the criteria
Upper Elementary Teamwork Rubric Karen Franker's rubric includes six defined criteria for assessing the team and individual responsibility
Middle School/High School Collaboration Rubric Six defined criteria for collaboration with strong performance descriptors
ePortfolio and Web Page Rubrics
These rubrics are related to our Instructional Design courses.
e-Portfolio Rubric Electronic portfolio rubric created by Joan Vandervelde includes 7 categories with 4 levels of achievement
Web Page Rubric Joan Vandervelde's rubric details 9 categories for evaluating a web page
CyberFair Peer Review Student Web Page Rubric Online feedback form for CyberFair Project.
Concept Map and Graphic Organizer Rubric
Graphic Organizer and Mind Map Rubric Concept map diagram rubric to assess a visual storyboard of a final project or to chart a flow of work and ideas by Karen Franker
Storyboard Rubric Concept map and/or storyboard specification of instructional sequencing and messaging details.
Video and Multimedia Project Rubrics
These rubrics are related to our Elearning and Online Teaching course and flipped classroom course.
Video Project Rubric Joan Vandervelde lists criteria for video production and editing
Multimedia Project Rubric Rubric developed by Caroline McCullen, Jamie McKenzie, and Terrie Gray
Virtual Simulations and Games Rubric
Assessing Student Learning in Virtual Simulations and Serious Games A grading rubric created by Ann Bell with 6 performance criteria
Research Process Rubrics
Research Process Rubric - Elementary Karen Franker's rubric to assess planning, gathering, organizing and citing information in grades 3-5
Research Process Rubric - Middle School Karen Franker's rubric assesses performance with the research process
Rubric for Research Process Joyce Valenza's rubric assesses 5 research performance areas for high school students
Research Process Reflection Joyce Valenza's Question Brainstormer encourages students to ask focus questions and reflect on the research process
Academic Research Writing and APA Formatting Rubric Kay Lehmann's rubric for high school or college level
These rubrics are related to our Teaching and Assessing Writing courses .
Student-Friendly Writing Rubric
Samples of Student Writing, Scored With a 6+1 Trait Rubric An extensive archive of assessment materials associated with the 6-Traits assessment approach.
NWREL's Six Traits of Writing Rubric English and Spanish versions of the 6-Traits of Writing Rubric and other rubrics for listening, public speaking, and reading
Writing Rubrics K-12 - Opinion/Argument, Narrative, and Informative/Explanatory
Research Paper Rubric (Word doc)
Rubric for Scoring Effective Writing (Word doc)
Persuasive Essay Rubric (Word document)
Reflective Writing Rubric (PDF)
Reflection Paper Rubric (PDF)
Historical Fiction Essay Rubric (pdf) Blake Green's history class rubric.
Rubrics for Middle School Includes invention report, book talk, persuasive essay, and autobiographical event essay
Autobiographical Rubric (PDF)
Math and Science Rubrics
These rubrics are related to our Math Specialist courses .
Math Rubrics 4 levels of math understanding with performance criteria
NCTM Math Standard Rubric (pdf) Performance criteria for problem-solving reasoning and proof communication connections representation
Science Rubric (pdf) Performance criteria for the use of scientific tools, science reasoning and strategies, science concepts and use of data and communication Scientific Report Rubric Easy to modify for any kind of high school research report
Physics Project Rubric A good example of a performance rubric tuned a specific project. Easy to adapt to other subjects.
Rubrics for Primary Grades
Kindergarten Rubrics Assess literacy development
Kindergarten Rubrics Evaluates communication, fine muscle development, emergent reading and writing, large muscle development, math development, creative arts, personal development, and work habits, play, and social skills.
Primary Grade Self-Evaluation Teamwork Rubric (PDF) Features a sandwich to graphically show when all criteria are met
Third Grade Venn Diagram Rubric
These tools are explored in our e-learning course .
Rubistar Choose a topic and create a new rubric based on a template. Save and edit your rubric online.
Rubric Template Insert the task and criteria into this template.
Rubric Template (Word doc) Word document template to download and modify to meet authentic assessment needs (University of West Florida).
iRubric develop rubrics and access them from anywhere
Single-Point Rubric (Word doc)
Rubric Generator Build your own grading rubrics online by filling out a form. You can include a graphic and print the rubric.
Readings about Authentic Assessment Helpful background information about rubric design and implementation in the classroom.
- Grades 6-12
- School Leaders
Make Math Class EPIC With This Giveaway!
15 Helpful Scoring Rubric Examples for All Grades and Subjects
In the end, they actually make grading easier.
When it comes to student assessment and evaluation, there are a lot of methods to consider. In some cases, testing is the best way to assess a student’s knowledge, and the answers are either right or wrong. But often, assessing a student’s performance is much less clear-cut. In these situations, a scoring rubric is often the way to go, especially if you’re using standards-based grading . Here’s what you need to know about this useful tool, along with lots of rubric examples to get you started.
What is a scoring rubric?
In the United States, a rubric is a guide that lays out the performance expectations for an assignment. It helps students understand what’s required of them, and guides teachers through the evaluation process. (Note that in other countries, the term “rubric” may instead refer to the set of instructions at the beginning of an exam. To avoid confusion, some people use the term “scoring rubric” instead.)
A rubric generally has three parts:
- Performance criteria: These are the various aspects on which the assignment will be evaluated. They should align with the desired learning outcomes for the assignment.
- Rating scale: This could be a number system (often 1 to 4) or words like “exceeds expectations, meets expectations, below expectations,” etc.
- Indicators: These describe the qualities needed to earn a specific rating for each of the performance criteria. The level of detail may vary depending on the assignment and the purpose of the rubric itself.
Rubrics take more time to develop up front, but they help ensure more consistent assessment, especially when the skills being assessed are more subjective. A well-developed rubric can actually save teachers a lot of time when it comes to grading. What’s more, sharing your scoring rubric with students in advance often helps improve performance . This way, students have a clear picture of what’s expected of them and what they need to do to achieve a specific grade or performance rating.
Learn more about why and how to use a rubric here.
Types of Rubric
There are three basic rubric categories, each with its own purpose.
Source: Cambrian College
This type of rubric combines all the scoring criteria in a single scale. They’re quick to create and use, but they have drawbacks. If a student’s work spans different levels, it can be difficult to decide which score to assign. They also make it harder to provide feedback on specific aspects.
Traditional letter grades are a type of holistic rubric. So are the popular “hamburger rubric” and “ cupcake rubric ” examples. Learn more about holistic rubrics here.
Source: University of Nebraska
Analytic rubrics are much more complex and generally take a great deal more time up front to design. They include specific details of the expected learning outcomes, and descriptions of what criteria are required to meet various performance ratings in each. Each rating is assigned a point value, and the total number of points earned determines the overall grade for the assignment.
Though they’re more time-intensive to create, analytic rubrics actually save time while grading. Teachers can simply circle or highlight any relevant phrases in each rating, and add a comment or two if needed. They also help ensure consistency in grading, and make it much easier for students to understand what’s expected of them.
Learn more about analytic rubrics here.
Source: Deb’s Data Digest
A developmental rubric is a type of analytic rubric, but it’s used to assess progress along the way rather than determining a final score on an assignment. The details in these rubrics help students understand their achievements, as well as highlight the specific skills they still need to improve.
Developmental rubrics are essentially a subset of analytic rubrics. They leave off the point values, though, and focus instead on giving feedback using the criteria and indicators of performance.
Learn how to use developmental rubrics here.
Ready to create your own rubrics? Find general tips on designing rubrics here. Then, check out these examples across all grades and subjects to inspire you.
Elementary School Rubric Examples
These elementary school rubric examples come from real teachers who use them with their students. Adapt them to fit your needs and grade level.
Reading Fluency Rubric
You can use this one as an analytic rubric by counting up points to earn a final score, or just to provide developmental feedback. There’s a second rubric page available specifically to assess prosody (reading with expression).
Learn more: Teacher Thrive
Reading Comprehension Rubric
The nice thing about this rubric is that you can use it at any grade level, for any text. If you like this style, you can get a reading fluency rubric here too.
Learn more: Pawprints Resource Center
Written Response Rubric
Rubrics aren’t just for huge projects. They can also help kids work on very specific skills, like this one for improving written responses on assessments.
Learn more: Dianna Radcliffe: Teaching Upper Elementary and More
Interactive Notebook Rubric
If you use interactive notebooks as a learning tool , this rubric can help kids stay on track and meet your expectations.
Learn more: Classroom Nook
Use this simple rubric as it is, or tweak it to include more specific indicators for the project you have in mind.
Learn more: Tales of a Title One Teacher
Developmental rubrics are perfect for assessing behavior and helping students identify opportunities for improvement. Send these home regularly to keep parents in the loop.
Learn more: Teachers.net Gazette
Middle School Rubric Examples
In middle school, use rubrics to offer detailed feedback on projects, presentations, and more. Be sure to share them with students in advance, and encourage them to use them as they work so they’ll know if they’re meeting expectations.
Argumentative Writing Rubric
Argumentative writing is a part of language arts, social studies, science, and more. That makes this rubric especially useful.
Learn more: Dr. Caitlyn Tucker
Role-plays can be really useful when teaching social and critical thinking skills, but it’s hard to assess them. Try a rubric like this one to evaluate and provide useful feedback.
Learn more: A Question of Influence
Art Project Rubric
Art is one of those subjects where grading can feel very subjective. Bring some objectivity to the process with a rubric like this.
Source: Art Ed Guru
Diorama Project Rubric
You can use diorama projects in almost any subject, and they’re a great chance to encourage creativity. Simplify the grading process and help kids know how to make their projects shine with this scoring rubric.
Learn more: Historyourstory.com
Oral Presentation Rubric
Rubrics are terrific for grading presentations, since you can include a variety of skills and other criteria. Consider letting students use a rubric like this to offer peer feedback too.
Learn more: Bright Hub Education
High School Rubric Examples
In high school, it’s important to include your grading rubrics when you give assignments like presentations, research projects, or essays. Kids who go on to college will definitely encounter rubrics, so helping them become familiar with them now will help in the future.
Analyze a student’s presentation both for content and communication skills with a rubric like this one. If needed, create a separate one for content knowledge with even more criteria and indicators.
Learn more: Michael A. Pena Jr.
Debate is a valuable learning tool that encourages critical thinking and oral communication skills. This rubric can help you assess those skills objectively.
Learn more: Education World
Project-Based Learning Rubric
Implementing project-based learning can be time-intensive, but the payoffs are worth it. Try this rubric to make student expectations clear and end-of-project assessment easier.
Learn more: Free Technology for Teachers
100-Point Essay Rubric
Need an easy way to convert a scoring rubric to a letter grade? This example for essay writing earns students a final score out of 100 points.
Learn more: Learn for Your Life
Drama Performance Rubric
If you’re unsure how to grade a student’s participation and performance in drama class, consider this example. It offers lots of objective criteria and indicators to evaluate.
Learn more: Chase March
How do you use rubrics in your classroom? Come share your thoughts and exchange ideas in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .
Plus, 25 of the best alternative assessment ideas ..
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17 Tips for New Teachers and Their Mentors
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Assessment and Curriculum Support Center
Creating and using rubrics.
On this page:
Part 1. What is a rubric? Part 2. Why use a rubric? Part 3. What are the parts of a rubric? Part 4. Developing a rubric Part 5. Sample rubrics Part 6. Scoring rubric group orientation and calibration Part 7. Suggestions for Using Rubrics in Courses Part 8. Tips for developing a rubric
- Rubrics primarily for undergraduate outcomes and programs
- Rubric repository for graduate degree programs
Workshop presentation slides and handouts:
- Workshop handout (Word document)
- How to Use a Rubric for Program Assessment (2010)
- Techniques for Using Rubrics in Program Assessment by guest speaker Dannelle Stevens (2010)
- Rubrics: Save Grading Time & Engage Students in Learning by guest speaker Dannelle Stevens (2009)
1. What is a rubric?
A rubric is an assessment tool often shaped like a matrix, which describes levels of achievement in a specific area of performance, understanding, or behavior.
There are two main types of rubrics:
Analytic Rubric : An analytic rubric specifies at least two characteristics to be assessed at each performance level and provides a separate score for each characteristic (e.g., a score on “formatting” and a score on “content development”).
- Advantages: provides more detailed feedback on student performance; promotes consistent scoring across students and between raters
- Disadvantages: more time consuming than applying a holistic rubric
- You want to see strengths and weaknesses.
- You want detailed feedback about student performance.
Holistic Rubric: A holistic rubrics provide a single score based on an overall impression of a student’s performance on a task.
- Advantages: quick scoring; provides an overview of student achievement; efficient for large group scoring
- Disadvantages: does not provided detailed information; not diagnostic; may be difficult for scorers to decide on one overall score
- You want a quick snapshot of achievement.
- A single dimension is adequate to define quality.
2. Why use a rubric?
- A rubric creates a common framework and language for assessment.
- Complex products or behaviors can be examined efficiently.
- Well-trained reviewers apply the same criteria and standards.
- Rubrics are criterion-referenced, rather than norm-referenced. Raters ask, “Did the student meet the criteria for level 5 of the rubric?” rather than “How well did this student do compared to other students?”
- Using rubrics can lead to substantive conversations among faculty.
- When faculty members collaborate to develop a rubric, it promotes shared expectations and grading practices.
Faculty members can use rubrics for program assessment. Examples:
The English Department collected essays from students in all sections of English 100. A random sample of essays was selected. A team of faculty members evaluated the essays by applying an analytic scoring rubric. Before applying the rubric, they “normed”–that is, they agreed on how to apply the rubric by scoring the same set of essays and discussing them until consensus was reached (see below: “6. Scoring rubric group orientation and calibration”). Biology laboratory instructors agreed to use a “Biology Lab Report Rubric” to grade students’ lab reports in all Biology lab sections, from 100- to 400-level. At the beginning of each semester, instructors met and discussed sample lab reports. They agreed on how to apply the rubric and their expectations for an “A,” “B,” “C,” etc., report in 100-level, 200-level, and 300- and 400-level lab sections. Every other year, a random sample of students’ lab reports are selected from 300- and 400-level sections. Each of those reports are then scored by a Biology professor. The score given by the course instructor is compared to the score given by the Biology professor. In addition, the scores are reported as part of the program’s assessment report. In this way, the program determines how well it is meeting its outcome, “Students will be able to write biology laboratory reports.”
3. What are the parts of a rubric?
Rubrics are composed of four basic parts. In its simplest form, the rubric includes:
- A task description . The outcome being assessed or instructions students received for an assignment.
- The characteristics to be rated (rows) . The skills, knowledge, and/or behavior to be demonstrated.
- Not meeting, approaching, meeting, exceeding
- Exemplary, proficient, marginal, unacceptable
- Advanced, intermediate high, intermediate, novice
- A description of each characteristic at each level of mastery/scale (cells) .
4. Developing a rubric
Step 1: Identify what you want to assess
Step 2: Identify the characteristics to be rated (rows). These are also called “dimensions.”
- Specify the skills, knowledge, and/or behaviors that you will be looking for.
- Limit the characteristics to those that are most important to the assessment.
Step 3: Identify the levels of mastery/scale (columns).
Tip: Aim for an even number (4 or 6) because when an odd number is used, the middle tends to become the “catch-all” category.
Step 4: Describe each level of mastery for each characteristic/dimension (cells).
- Describe the best work you could expect using these characteristics. This describes the top category.
- Describe an unacceptable product. This describes the lowest category.
- Develop descriptions of intermediate-level products for intermediate categories.
Important: Each description and each characteristic should be mutually exclusive.
Step 5: Test rubric.
- Apply the rubric to an assignment.
- Share with colleagues.
Tip: Faculty members often find it useful to establish the minimum score needed for the student work to be deemed passable. For example, faculty members may decided that a “1” or “2” on a 4-point scale (4=exemplary, 3=proficient, 2=marginal, 1=unacceptable), does not meet the minimum quality expectations. We encourage a standard setting session to set the score needed to meet expectations (also called a “cutscore”). Monica has posted materials from standard setting workshops, one offered on campus and the other at a national conference (includes speaker notes with the presentation slides). They may set their criteria for success as 90% of the students must score 3 or higher. If assessment study results fall short, action will need to be taken.
Step 6: Discuss with colleagues. Review feedback and revise.
Important: When developing a rubric for program assessment, enlist the help of colleagues. Rubrics promote shared expectations and consistent grading practices which benefit faculty members and students in the program.
5. Sample rubrics
Rubrics are on our Rubric Bank page and in our Rubric Repository (Graduate Degree Programs) . More are available at the Assessment and Curriculum Support Center in Crawford Hall (hard copy).
These open as Word documents and are examples from outside UH.
- Group Participation (analytic rubric)
- Participation (holistic rubric)
- Design Project (analytic rubric)
- Critical Thinking (analytic rubric)
- Media and Design Elements (analytic rubric; portfolio)
- Writing (holistic rubric; portfolio)
6. Scoring rubric group orientation and calibration
When using a rubric for program assessment purposes, faculty members apply the rubric to pieces of student work (e.g., reports, oral presentations, design projects). To produce dependable scores, each faculty member needs to interpret the rubric in the same way. The process of training faculty members to apply the rubric is called “norming.” It’s a way to calibrate the faculty members so that scores are accurate and consistent across the faculty. Below are directions for an assessment coordinator carrying out this process.
Suggested materials for a scoring session:
- Copies of the rubric
- Copies of the “anchors”: pieces of student work that illustrate each level of mastery. Suggestion: have 6 anchor pieces (2 low, 2 middle, 2 high)
- Score sheets
- Extra pens, tape, post-its, paper clips, stapler, rubber bands, etc.
Hold the scoring session in a room that:
- Allows the scorers to spread out as they rate the student pieces
- Has a chalk or white board, smart board, or flip chart
- Describe the purpose of the activity, stressing how it fits into program assessment plans. Explain that the purpose is to assess the program, not individual students or faculty, and describe ethical guidelines, including respect for confidentiality and privacy.
- Describe the nature of the products that will be reviewed, briefly summarizing how they were obtained.
- Describe the scoring rubric and its categories. Explain how it was developed.
- Analytic: Explain that readers should rate each dimension of an analytic rubric separately, and they should apply the criteria without concern for how often each score (level of mastery) is used. Holistic: Explain that readers should assign the score or level of mastery that best describes the whole piece; some aspects of the piece may not appear in that score and that is okay. They should apply the criteria without concern for how often each score is used.
- Give each scorer a copy of several student products that are exemplars of different levels of performance. Ask each scorer to independently apply the rubric to each of these products, writing their ratings on a scrap sheet of paper.
- Once everyone is done, collect everyone’s ratings and display them so everyone can see the degree of agreement. This is often done on a blackboard, with each person in turn announcing his/her ratings as they are entered on the board. Alternatively, the facilitator could ask raters to raise their hands when their rating category is announced, making the extent of agreement very clear to everyone and making it very easy to identify raters who routinely give unusually high or low ratings.
- Guide the group in a discussion of their ratings. There will be differences. This discussion is important to establish standards. Attempt to reach consensus on the most appropriate rating for each of the products being examined by inviting people who gave different ratings to explain their judgments. Raters should be encouraged to explain by making explicit references to the rubric. Usually consensus is possible, but sometimes a split decision is developed, e.g., the group may agree that a product is a “3-4” split because it has elements of both categories. This is usually not a problem. You might allow the group to revise the rubric to clarify its use but avoid allowing the group to drift away from the rubric and learning outcome(s) being assessed.
- Once the group is comfortable with how the rubric is applied, the rating begins. Explain how to record ratings using the score sheet and explain the procedures. Reviewers begin scoring.
- Are results sufficiently reliable?
- What do the results mean? Are we satisfied with the extent of students’ learning?
- Who needs to know the results?
- What are the implications of the results for curriculum, pedagogy, or student support services?
- How might the assessment process, itself, be improved?
7. Suggestions for Using Rubrics in Courses
- Use the rubric to grade student work. Hand out the rubric with the assignment so students will know your expectations and how they’ll be graded. This should help students master your learning outcomes by guiding their work in appropriate directions.
- Use a rubric for grading student work and return the rubric with the grading on it. Faculty save time writing extensive comments; they just circle or highlight relevant segments of the rubric. Some faculty members include room for additional comments on the rubric page, either within each section or at the end.
- Develop a rubric with your students for an assignment or group project. Students can the monitor themselves and their peers using agreed-upon criteria that they helped develop. Many faculty members find that students will create higher standards for themselves than faculty members would impose on them.
- Have students apply your rubric to sample products before they create their own. Faculty members report that students are quite accurate when doing this, and this process should help them evaluate their own projects as they are being developed. The ability to evaluate, edit, and improve draft documents is an important skill.
- Have students exchange paper drafts and give peer feedback using the rubric. Then, give students a few days to revise before submitting the final draft to you. You might also require that they turn in the draft and peer-scored rubric with their final paper.
- Have students self-assess their products using the rubric and hand in their self-assessment with the product; then, faculty members and students can compare self- and faculty-generated evaluations.
8. Tips for developing a rubric
- Find and adapt an existing rubric! It is rare to find a rubric that is exactly right for your situation, but you can adapt an already existing rubric that has worked well for others and save a great deal of time. A faculty member in your program may already have a good one.
- Evaluate the rubric . Ask yourself: A) Does the rubric relate to the outcome(s) being assessed? (If yes, success!) B) Does it address anything extraneous? (If yes, delete.) C) Is the rubric useful, feasible, manageable, and practical? (If yes, find multiple ways to use the rubric: program assessment, assignment grading, peer review, student self assessment.)
- Collect samples of student work that exemplify each point on the scale or level. A rubric will not be meaningful to students or colleagues until the anchors/benchmarks/exemplars are available.
- Expect to revise.
- When you have a good rubric, SHARE IT!
- Rubric Library , Institutional Research, Assessment & Planning, California State University-Fresno
- The Basics of Rubrics [PDF], Schreyer Institute, Penn State
- Creating Rubrics , Teaching Methods and Management, TeacherVision
- Allen, Mary – University of Hawai’i at Manoa Spring 2008 Assessment Workshops, May 13-14, 2008 [available at the Assessment and Curriculum Support Center]
- Mertler, Craig A. (2001). Designing scoring rubrics for your classroom. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation , 7(25).
- NPEC Sourcebook on Assessment: Definitions and Assessment Methods for Communication, Leadership, Information Literacy, Quantitative Reasoning, and Quantitative Skills . [PDF] (June 2005)
Teaching excellence & educational innovation, grading and performance rubrics, what are rubrics.
A rubric is a scoring tool that explicitly represents the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric divides the assigned work into component parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each component, at varying levels of mastery. Rubrics can be used for a wide array of assignments: papers, projects, oral presentations, artistic performances, group projects, etc. Rubrics can be used as scoring or grading guides, to provide formative feedback to support and guide ongoing learning efforts, or both.
Advantages of Using Rubrics
Using a rubric provides several advantages to both instructors and students. Grading according to an explicit and descriptive set of criteria that is designed to reflect the weighted importance of the objectives of the assignment helps ensure that the instructor’s grading standards don’t change over time. Grading consistency is difficult to maintain over time because of fatigue, shifting standards based on prior experience, or intrusion of other criteria. Furthermore, rubrics can reduce the time spent grading by reducing uncertainty and by allowing instructors to refer to the rubric description associated with a score rather than having to write long comments. Finally, grading rubrics are invaluable in large courses that have multiple graders (other instructors, teaching assistants, etc.) because they can help ensure consistency across graders and reduce the systematic bias that can be introduced between graders.
Used more formatively, rubrics can help instructors get a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of their class. By recording the component scores and tallying up the number of students scoring below an acceptable level on each component, instructors can identify those skills or concepts that need more instructional time and student effort.
Grading rubrics are also valuable to students. A rubric can help instructors communicate to students the specific requirements and acceptable performance standards of an assignment. When rubrics are given to students with the assignment description, they can help students monitor and assess their progress as they work toward clearly indicated goals. When assignments are scored and returned with the rubric, students can more easily recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their work and direct their efforts accordingly.
Examples of Rubrics
Here are links to a diverse set of rubrics designed by Carnegie Mellon faculty and faculty at other institutions. Although your particular field of study and type of assessment activity may not be represented currently, viewing a rubric that is designed for a similar activity may provide you with ideas on how to divide your task into components and how to describe the varying levels of mastery.
- Example 1: Philosophy Paper This rubric was designed for student papers in a range of philosophy courses, CMU.
- Example 2: Psychology Assignment Short, concept application homework assignment in cognitive psychology, CMU.
- Example 3: Anthropology Writing Assignments This rubric was designed for a series of short writing assignments in anthropology, CMU.
- Example 4: History Research Paper . This rubric was designed for essays and research papers in history, CMU.
- Example 1: Capstone Project in Design This rubric describes the components and standard of performance from the research phase to the final presentation for a senior capstone project in the School of Design, CMU.
- Example 2: Engineering Design Project This rubric describes performance standards on three aspects of a team project: Research and Design, Communication, and Team Work.
- Example 1: Oral Exam This rubric describes a set of components and standards for assessing performance on an oral exam in an upper-division history course, CMU.
- Example 2: Oral Communication
- Example 3: Group Presentations This rubric describes a set of components and standards for assessing group presentations in a history course, CMU.
- Example 1: Discussion Class This rubric assesses the quality of student contributions to class discussions. This is appropriate for an undergraduate-level course, CMU.
- Example 2: Advanced Seminar This rubric is designed for assessing discussion performance in an advanced undergraduate or graduate seminar.
Center for Teaching Innovation
- AACU VALUE Rubrics
A rubric is a type of scoring guide that assesses and articulates specific components and expectations for an assignment. Rubrics can be used for a variety of assignments: research papers, group projects, portfolios, and presentations.
Why use rubrics?
Rubrics help instructors:
- Assess assignments consistently from student-to-student.
- Save time in grading, both short-term and long-term.
- Give timely, effective feedback and promote student learning in a sustainable way.
- Clarify expectations and components of an assignment for both students and course teaching assistants (TAs).
- Refine teaching methods by evaluating rubric results.
Rubrics help students:
- Understand expectations and components of an assignment.
- Become more aware of their learning process and progress.
- Improve work through timely and detailed feedback.
Considerations for using rubrics
When developing rubrics consider the following:
- Although it takes time to build a rubric, time will be saved in the long run as grading and providing feedback on student work will become more streamlined.
- A rubric can be a fillable pdf that can easily be emailed to students.
- They can be used for oral presentations.
- They are a great tool to evaluate teamwork and individual contribution to group tasks.
- Rubrics facilitate peer-review by setting evaluation standards. Have students use the rubric to provide peer assessment on various drafts.
- Students can use them for self-assessment to improve personal performance and learning. Encourage students to use the rubrics to assess their own work.
- Motivate students to improve their work by using rubric feedback to resubmit their work incorporating the feedback.
Getting Started with Rubrics
- Start small by creating one rubric for one assignment in a semester.
- Ask colleagues if they have developed rubrics for similar assignments or adapt rubrics that are available online. For example, the AACU has rubrics for topics such as written and oral communication, critical thinking, and creative thinking. RubiStar helps you to develop your rubric based on templates.
- Examine an assignment for your course. Outline the elements or critical attributes to be evaluated (these attributes must be objectively measurable).
- Create an evaluative range for performance quality under each element; for instance, “excellent,” “good,” “unsatisfactory.”
- Avoid using subjective or vague criteria such as “interesting” or “creative.” Instead, outline objective indicators that would fall under these categories.
- The criteria must clearly differentiate one performance level from another.
- Assign a numerical scale to each level.
- Give a draft of the rubric to your colleagues and/or TAs for feedback.
- Train students to use your rubric and solicit feedback. This will help you judge whether the rubric is clear to them and will identify any weaknesses.
- Rework the rubric based on the feedback.
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iRubric: MATH ASSIGNMENT RUBRIC
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