A rubric is commonly defined as a tool that articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing criteria, and for each criteria, describing levels of quality (Andrade, 2000; Arter & Chappuis, 2007; Stiggins, 2001). Rubrics contain three essential features: criteria students are to attend to in completing the assignment, markers of quality (typically rating scales), and scoring. Criteria are used in determining the level at which student work meets expectations. Markers of quality give students a clear idea about what must be done to demonstrate a certain level of mastery, understanding, proficiency (i.e., "excellent" does xyz, "fair" does only xy or yz, "poor" does only x or y or z). Rubrics can be used for any assignment in a course, or for any way in which you ask students to demonstrate what they've learned. They can also be used to facilitate self and peer-reviews of student work.

Rubrics aren't just for summative evaluation. They can be used as a teaching tool as well. When used by students as part of a formative assessment, they can help students understand both the holistic nature and/or specific analytics of learning expected, the level of learning expected, and then make decisions about their current level of learning to inform revision and improvement (Reddy & Andrade, 2010). 

Fast Facts: Getting Started with Rubrics

Why You Should Consider Rubrics

Rubrics help instructors:

  • Provide students with feedback that is clear, directed and focused on ways to improve learning.
  • Demystify assignment expectations so students can focus on the work instead of guessing "what the teacher wants."
  • Adapt your approach to teaching aspects of a course based on thematic gaps in student learning that are easily identified by reviewing rubrics across a class.
  • Develop consistency in how you evaluate student learning across students and throughout a class.
  • Reduce time spent on grading; Increase time spent on teaching.

Rubrics help students:

  • Focus their efforts on completing assignments in line with clearly set expectations.
  • Self and Peer-reflect on their learning, making informed changes to achieve the desired learning level.

Developing a Rubric

First Things, First

  • It will be overwhelming to create a rubric for every assignment in a class at once, so start by creating one rubric for one assignment. See how it goes and develop more from there!
  • Do not reinvent the wheel. Rubric templates and examples exist all over the Internet, or simply ask colleagues if they have developed rubrics for similar assignments.

The Process

  • Select an assignment for your course - ideally one you identify as time intensive to grade, or students report as having unclear expectations.
  • Decide what you want students to demonstrate about their learning through that assignment. These are your criteria.
  • Develop the markers of quality on which you feel comfortable evaluating students’ level of learning - often along with a numerical scale. (i.e., "excellent-2," "fair-1," "poor-0"; or, "Mastery," "Emerging," "Beginning" for a developmental approach)
  • Give students the rubric ahead of time. Advise them to use it in guiding their completion of the assignment.

 

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Rubrics

Rubrics for Assessment

There are many resources on the web that provide examples of rubrics that can be used in assessment. In "Other Resources," below, the long UCLA document provides some excellent examples. IN addition the Association of American Colleges and Universities has an excellent set of "Value Rubrics" which we include below. All are Reprinted [or Excerpted] with permission from Assessing Outcomes and Improving Achievement: Tips and tools for Using Rubrics, edited by Terrel L. Rhodes. Copyright 2010 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Value Rubrics Packet, including rubrics on:

  • Creative Thinking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Information LIterary
  • Inquiry Analysis
  • Oral Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Quantitative Literacy
  • Reading
  • Written Communication

Other Assessment Resources

References:
  • Andrade, H. 2000. Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership 57, no. 5: 13–18.
  • Arter, J., and J. Chappuis. 2007. Creating and recognizing quality rubrics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.
  • Stiggins, R.J. 2001. Student-involved classroom assessment. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Reddy, Y., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation In Higher Education, 35(4), 435-448.

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