What is a rubric

    • Origin: latin means “marks in red”

    • a matrix with scaled levels of accomplishment or understanding of each criteria or dimension of quality set forth for an assessment

    • The essential elements of a rubric are: evaluative criteria, quality definitions and a scoring strategy

    Designing a rubric

    • Design the rubric with a clear understanding of what learning objectives you want the student to have

      • Ask yourself “What do I want the students to know?” and “How do I know when they have reached this?”

    • Be as specific and clear as possible when defining the criteria and expectations!!!

    • Holistic vs. Analytical

      • Holistic: one score, considering the combined score of all criteria (overall)

        • pros: looks at the quality overall, quicker to generate and score

        • cons: doesn’t give back specific feedback, open to debate by students

      • Analytical: separate scores given for each criteria (looks at the different dimensions)

        • pros: emphasize specific criteria, feedback for each grading topic

        • cons: longer to make and grade, can lose the big picture

    • Create a list of assessment criteria that you would want the student to show mastery in through accomplishing the assignment

    • levels of proficiency and quality need to be described

      • Start off with what the highest level (expert) should look like; this will be what the students should aspire to reach.

      • Avoid using general descriptive words like “good’ and “creative”

      • Be explicit and clear in your expectations and your standards

    • Grading/ Scoring levels.

      • Limit the scoring levels to only 3 or 4

      • Use a scale that will allow the student to see progression (Exemplary, Proficient, Acceptable, Unacceptable)

      • Well-defined breaks between the scoring levels


    • Go over the rubric with the students after handing it out

    • Allow the students to ask questions regarding it

    • Clarify any issues that the students are having with it

      • Students don’t understand assessment criteria

        • make sure the language used in the rubric is clear and well-defined

        • have other students describe it the way they see it

      • Students don’t understand the differences between grading levels

        • relate the levels to observable things

        • give examples

        • well-defined breaks between levels

        • each level can receive a single score, not a range

    Why use rubrics?

    • If we want students to think critically and not just memorize information we need to implement more assessments that just multiple choice exams

    • Makes the standards and expectation very clear for the student

    • Way for students to check their progress as they work on assignment (guide)

    • Final checkpoint for students before turning in an assignment

    • Used to grade the assignments fairly across the board

      • the more precise your rubric is, the easier the grading portion will be

      • if any student is confused about their grade, it’s an easy reference point

    • Can be tailored for different assignments to highlight specific qualities and learning objectives.


    The last thing we want is to scare students away from alternative forms of assessment (not multiple choice tests) so be as clear and precise in defining the criteria and grading.


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