A rubric, in it’s essence, is a tool containing a limited number of carefully chosen criteria which are used to assess student learning on a given assignment. Rubrics are efficient for communicating performance expectations and giving students feedback on the elements that comprise their grade.  Transparency and clear communication regarding expectations for successful completion of work are key components of an equitable assignment.  All students need to understand the purpose, the necessary tasks to successfully complete the work, and upon what specific criteria they will be evaluated (The Transparency Framework, Mary-Ann Winkelmes).

Why use a rubric?

  • Communication – Rubrics can clarify your expectations to your students and help them understand the connection of the assignment components to a grade.  When students understand the criteria and standards of excellence on an assignment before beginning they are more likely to fulfil them.
  • Learning – Rubrics can guide self and peer feedback on an assignment.  Because they identify specific levels of quality for each element of an assignment, they can guide and inform a student in making improvements to their work that will help achieve the desired outcomes. 
  • Equity – Students enter a course with different experiences, preparation, ability, and learning challenges.  By making expectations clear, rubrics can level the playing field.
  • Reflection – A rubric can connect an individual assignment to an instructor’s intention in creating the activity and the learning goals that a student will gain through its completion.  Additionally, a rubric can make non-content goals explicit (e.g., expectations for writing, public speaking, teamwork, etc.)
  • Efficiency – Rubrics can be used to save time when grading and help to maintain consistency when using multiple graders.

Creating a Rubric

  1. Define the purpose and goals of your assignment & identify the criteria that will be evaluated
    • Clearly articulate what you are trying to accomplish through this assignment. 
    • Identify measurable learning outcomes for students and how they will demonstrate that they’ve achieved them.
    • Draft your rubric criteria, being sure each is separate and clearly defined.  Each criteria will focus on different skill set or knowledge areas.
    • A rubric should only contain a limited number of criteria that are essential to the learning task. 
  2. Choose a rubric type
    • The type of rubric you select depends on the purpose of the assignment, and whether it will provide summative or formative feedback to the student.  See Types & Examples of Rubrics for more.
    • Decide whether or not to weigh the criteria based on relative importance. Each criterion can be assigned a percentage of the total score if desired.
  3. Draft a rating scale
    • Provide specific, meaningful guidelines for evaluation of each rubric criterion.
    • Levels of success and performance should be clearly communicated, several quality levels can be defined for each rubric criteria.
    • Use descriptive language that is action-oriented to make assigning a score easier for each criterion. Be certain that it will be easy to distinguish between performance levels when scoring.
  4. Share the rubric with students
    • Give students the rubric ahead of time.
    • Advise them to use it in guiding their completion of the assignment.

Examples of Rubrics