A rubric is a measurement tool that describes the criteria that will be used to evaluate a specific task such as a student writing assignment, poster, oral presentation, or other project. Rubrics allow instructors to communicate expectations to students, and can increase the reliability of scores. When multiple individuals are grading, rubrics also help improve the consistency of scoring across all graders.
Rubrics generally exist in tabular form and are composed of:
- A description of the task that is being evaluated,
- The criteria that is being evaluated (row headings),
- A rating scale that demonstrates different levels of performance (column headings), and
- A description of each level of performance for each criterion (within each box of the table).
Major Types of Rubrics
There are two major categories of rubrics:
- Holistic: In this type of rubric, a single score is provided based on raters’ overall perception of the quality of the performance. Holistic rubrics are useful when only one attribute is being evaluated. This category of rubric is designed for quick scoring but does not provide detailed feedback. For these rubrics there is only one criteria being evaluated and the criteria may be the same as the description of the task.
- Analytic: In this type of rubric, scores are provided for several different criteria that are being evaluated. Analytic rubrics provide more detailed feedback to students and instructors about their performance. Scoring is usually more consistent across students and graders with analytic rubrics.
Below is a sample rubric holistic developed for an English Writing Seminar course at Yale.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities also has a number of free analytic rubrics that can be downloaded and modified by instructors. These 16 VALUE rubrics enable instructors to measure items such as inquiry and analysis, critical thinking, written communication, oral communication, quantitative literacy, teamwork, problem-solving, and more.
Recommended Strategies for Rubric Design
The following steps can be taken by an instructor to design a rubric:
1.) Define the goal and purpose of the task that is being evaluated.
- What are the learning objectives associated with the task?
2.) Decide what kind of rubric to use.
- Does the task require the demonstration of several different skills?
- Are all of these skills important and related to the objectives of the course?
- How much feedback should the students be given about their performance on the task?
- Is the task a formative or a summative assessment?
- Will detailed feedback be provided on multiple criteria?
3.) Define the criteria.
- What knowledge and skills are required for successful completion of the task?
- Create a list of essential knowledge and skills.
- Reviewing the learning objectives for the course and task can be helpful when generating a list of possible criteria
- Narrow the list by combining or eliminating criteria that are not distinct from each other.
- Ideally, the final list will contain less than seven criteria.
- Consider if any of the criteria need to be weighed differently for a final score.
4.) Define the rating scale to measure levels of performance.
- Should the scale include descriptors or only be numerical?
- How can the different possible levels of achievement be described?
- Examples might include:
- Excellent, Average, Poor
- Exceeds Expectations, Satisfactory, Inadequate, Not Demonstrated
- Clearly Articulated, Needs Improvement, Not Included
- Examples might include:
- Rating scales typically have between three and five levels.
5.) Write descriptions for each performance level of the rating scale.
- Statements should be written for each performance level of every criterion.
- The statements should be parallel, observable, and measurable.
6.) Create and test the rubric.
- Limit the rubric to one page so that all descriptions can be viewed simultaneously.
- Get feedback from graders, teaching assistants/fellows, and faculty colleagues.
- Use the rubric to evaluate a few performances.
- Determine if the score(s) accurately reflect actual performance.
- Have multiple graders use the rubric to evaluate the same student’s work and check for consistency.
- Discuss any discrepancies.
- Revise if necessary.
- Decide if you will share the rubric with students.
Andrade, H. (2005). Teaching with Rubrics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. College Teaching 53(1):27-30.
Cox, G. C., Brathwaite, B. H., & Morrison, J. (2015). The Rubric: An assessment tool to guide students and markers. Advances in Higher Education, 149-163.
Moskal, B. M. (2000). Scoring rubrics: What, when and how? Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation 7(3).
Quinlan A. M., (2011) A Complete Guide to Rubrics: Assessment Made Easy for Teachers of K-college 2nd edition, Rowman & Littlefield Education.
Reddy, Y. M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 435-448.