Internal - Faculty & Staff

Rubrics

Rubrics provide a powerful tool for grading and assessment that can also serve as a transparent and inspiring guide to learning. A rubric is a great tool for teachers, because it is a simple way to set up a grading criteria for assignments. Not only is this tool useful for teachers, it is helpful for students as well. Rubrics are a printed set of scoring guidelines (criteria) for evaluating work (a performance or a product) and for giving feedback. Generally, they are put in the form of a chart with an x and y axis of performance criteria and an evaluative range or scale. A rubric defines in writing what is expected of the student to get a particular grade on an assignment.  A good rubric also describes levels of quality for each of the criteria. These levels of performance may be written as different ratings (e.g., Excellent, Good, Needs Improvement) or as numerical scores (e.g., 4, 3, 2, 1).

Rubrics are often used to grade student work but they can serve another, more important, role as well: Rubrics can teach as well as evaluate. When used as part of a formative, student-centered approach to assessment, rubrics have the potential to help students develop understanding and skill, as well as make dependable judgments about the quality of their own work. Students should be able to use rubrics in many of the same ways that teachers use them—to clarify the standards for a quality performance, and to guide ongoing feedback about progress toward those standards.

The operating principle behind rubrics is that you match the performance to the description, thus rubrics are as good or bad as the criteria selected and the descriptions of the levels of performance under each. Effective rubrics have appropriate criteria and well-written descriptions of performance.

Steps for Creating a Good Rubric

  1. List the criteria that will be used in assessing performance.
    1. The criteria you use should be related to the learning outcome(s) that you are assessing.
    2. Be sure that your criteria are explicit. “Neatness” would not be a good criterion because the term “neat” is not explicit enough. What is neatness?
    3. If possible, look at some actual examples of student work to see if you have omitted any important criteria.
  2. Determine your performance levels. Examples of performance levels may be:
    1. Descriptors (Excellent, Good, Needs Improvement)
    2. Numbers (4, 3, 2, 1)
  3. Write a description for each performance level. Describe the different levels of performance that match each criterion. You may want to start with the best and worst levels of quality, and then fill in the middle levels based on your knowledge of common problems.  Try to articulate what would make a good assignment good and a poor assignment poor. 
    1. Note the key-words used which will generally be what changes as you write the lower performance descriptions.
    2. The lowest level may be the minimum acceptable performance or a description of anticipated flaws in a performance.
    3. Try using words that:
      1. convey degrees of performance: Depth, Breadth, Quality, Scope, Extent, Complexity, Degrees, Accuracy.
      2. present a clear range, such as from complete to incomplete, major to minor, consistent to inconsistent, always to rarely
  4. After use, evaluate and revise rubric as needed.

Rubric Resources and Templates