Past event - Creating and Using Rubrics

February 9, 2016

Evaluative rubrics are a great method of assessing learning. This event will introduce the concepts of evaluative rubrics, their development, and application. You will have the opportunity to develop a rubric to use in one of your courses and will be able to share it with other participants for feedback.

A rubric is typically an evaluation tool or set of guidelines used to promote the consistent application of learning objectives or to measure their attainment against a consistent set of criteria. In instructional settings, rubrics clearly define academic expectations for students and help to ensure consistency in the evaluation of academic work from student to student, assignment to assignment, or course to course. Rubrics are also used as scoring instruments to determine grades or the degree to which learning objectives have been demonstrated or attained by students.

In courses, rubrics may be provided and explained to students before they begin an assignment to ensure that learning expectations have been clearly communicated to and understood by students. Rubrics may take many forms, but they typically include the following information:

  • The educational purpose of an assignment, the rationale behind it, or how it connects to larger concepts or themes in a course.
  • The specific criteria or learning objectives that students must show proficiency in to successfully complete an assignment or meet expected standards. An oral-presentation rubric, for example, will establish the criteria—e.g., speak clearly, make eye contact—on which students will be graded.
  • The specific quality standards the instructor will use when evaluating, scoring, or grading an assignment. For example, if the instructor is grading an assignment on a scale of 1 to 4, the rubric may detail what students need to do or demonstrate to earn a 1, 2, 3, or 4. Other rubrics will use descriptive language—does not meet, partially meets, meets, or exceeds the standard, for example—instead of a numerical score.

Rubrics are generally designed to be simple, explicit, and easily understood. Rubrics may help students see connections between learning (what will be taught) and assessment (what will be evaluated) by making the feedback they receive from instructors clearer, more detailed, and more useful in terms of identifying and communicating what students have learned or what they may still need to learn. Educators may use rubrics midway through an assignment to help students assess what they still need to do or demonstrate before submitting a final product. Rubrics may also encourage students to reflect on their own learning progress and help instructors to tailor instruction, academic support, or future assignments to address distinct learning needs or learning gaps.

In some cases, students are involved in the co-creation of rubrics for the purposes of evaluating their own work and that of their peers. Having the learner be involved in the development of an evaluative rubric can be a powerful exercise, especially for learner buy-in to the evaluation criteria. In addition, getting students involved in the design helps to lessen the "assembly-line" feeling that some students get when seeing a rubric evaluation.


Rubrics by Jon Mueller, Authentic Assessment Toolbox 

This site provides and brief, but comprehensive overview of the process of creating a rubric, including the creation of descriptors and levels of performance. A comparison of analytic and holistic rubrics and why you would use one versus the other is also made. 

Rubrics by Teaching Commons, DePaul University

This site details the characteristics of several types of rubrics - holistic, analytical, and developmental- along with methods of creating and evaluating rubrics. In addition, examples of rubrics from various topics, such as research papers and discussion forum participation, are shown. 


While many teachers want to use rubrics or are experimenting with writing rubrics, they can be quite time-consuming to develop. RubiStar is a tool to help the teacher who wants to use rubrics but does not have the time to develop them from scratch. RubiStar provides generic rubrics that can simply be printed and used for many typical projects and research assignments. The unique thing about RubiStar, however, is that it provides these generic rubrics in a format that can be customized. The teacher can change almost all suggested text in the rubric to make it fit their own project.

Sample Rubrics for Discussion Forums, Blended Learning @ Simmons College
This document provides several online discussion board rubrics, both holistic and analytic, that you may want to adapt in your own online course


Portions of this work are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It is attributed to Great Schools Partnership, and the original version can be found at here.