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.
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 TAs.
- Refine teaching skills 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.
- Start small by creating one rubric for one assignment in a semester.
- Ask colleagues if they have developed rubrics for similar assignments.
- 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.
Rubric Development Guidelines
- 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.”
- You can reinforce a developmental approach by students by using a developmental scale in your rubric, like “Beginning”, “Emerging” and “Exemplary.”
- Add descriptors that qualify each level of performance:
- 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.
When developing rubrics consider the following:
- A rubric can be a fillable pdf that can easily be e-mailed to students.
- How much class time is required for teaching and re-teaching the rubric.
Rubrics are most often used to grade written assignments, but they have many other uses.
- 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.
- Students can use them for self-assessment to improve personal performance and learning.
- For larger assignments, have students use the rubric to provide peer assessment on various drafts.
- 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.
Here is a sample strategy for introducing rubrics to students:
- Provide samples, or smaller sections of samples, of a complete assignment (consider asking previous students for permission to use their assignments as samples, provided that you remove their names).
- Have students evaluate the assignments individually using the rubric.
- Have students share their results with a partner and justify their evaluation by explaining how they used the rubric.
- Ask a few pairs to share their responses with the class. (Paying attention to students’ reactions/interpretations of the rubric is useful and may inform rubric adjustments).
- Provide your own evaluation of the sample assignments and explain how you used the rubric to assess the work.
- RubiStar Website, an online tool to help instructors create rubrics.
- Guide to Rating Critical & Integrative Thinking, Washington State University
- Artwork Assessment Form, Marvin Bartel, Goshen College
Art Rubric for Assessment of the Discussion & Writing on Art History, Aesthetics and Art Criticism - an Assessment Form.
- EPortfolio (Digital Portfolio) Rubric, Joan Vandervelde, University of Wisconsin - Stout
E-Portfolio Rubric used for self-assessment and peer feedback.
- Rubric for Online Instruction, California State University, Chico
Process for assessing online course design and delivery.
- Assessment Rubrics, Kathleen Schrock, Discovery Education
A collection of assessment rubrics and graphic organizers.
- Science Rubrics
Rubric templates for Assessing Research Paper, Portfolio, Reflective Essay, Lab Report, Oral Presentation and Backboard.
- Poetry Speaking and Performance Rubric, International Reading Association
Guide for evaluating students' speaking and performance skills when reading and performing poetry.
- Institutional Assessment and Compliance, University of South Carolina
Links to seven general education rubrics for assessing electronic, humanities/cultural, math, oral communication, science, social/behavioral sciences, and writing outcomes.
- Rubrics for Assessment, University of Wisconsin-Stout
- Educational Resources about Rubrics, Indiana University Kokomo
- Rubrics Resources, University of Delaware
- Online Instructional Resources on Assessment and Rubrics, Michigan State University
Assorted links to rubrics & related resources.
- Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) Rubrics, Association of American Colleges and Universities
Brookes, D. T., & Lin, Y. (2010). Structuring classroom discourse using formative assessment rubrics. AIP Conference Proceedings, 1289(1), 5-8.
Mora, J., & Ochoa, H. (2010). Rubrics as an evaluation tool in macroeconomics. Economics, Management & Financial Markets, 5(2), 237-249.
Reddy, Y., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation In Higher Education, 35(4), 435-448.
Stevens, D. and Levi, A. (2005) Introduction to Rubrics. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Timmerman, B., Strickland, D. C., Johnson, R. L., & Payne, J. R. (2011). Development of a "universal" rubric for assessing undergraduates' scientific reasoning skills using scientific writing. Assessment & Evaluation In Higher Education, 36(5), 509-547.
Tractenberg, R. E., Umans, J. G., & McCarter, R. J. (2010). A mastery rubric: Guiding curriculum design, admissions and development of course objectives. Assessment & Evaluation In Higher Education, 35(1), 17-35.