Have you felt overwhelmed with the task of grading student assignments? Do you ever feel that your students just don’t seem to get the purpose of your assignment, or that your grading might be too subjective? Rubrics are tools used to address these challenges and overall improve the grading process.

A rubric is a grading tool that instructors use to assess the performance or quality of student work. Rubrics help communicate expectations with students and can provide informative feedback to both students and instructors on learning. When used correctly, rubrics can make grading more objective and fair, and help students learn from the grading process. However, rubrics do take time and effort to create.

A typical rubric will contain three aspects; the criteria (elements of the assignment that are important in determining a grade), the rating levels (the levels used to measure the quality of student performance), and descriptors (descriptions of what performance looks like within each section of the rubric matrix).

Steps to Developing a Rubric

  • Think about the purpose of the assignment – why did you assign it? what do you hope students will gain by completing it? What should it look like when students have completed it?
  • Define the criteria – what are the different elements of the assignment that you find important in judging overall quality? Criteria should be observable and measurable.
    • Determine if some criteria are worth more than others – you might weight them differently
  • Determine how many rating levels you need – some assignments may only use the criteria (met/not met) while others will have multiple rating levels used for determining a grade (A,B,C, etc.). Because letter grades mean different things to different people, it is helpful to use descriptors for each level (beginning, developing, accomplished, exemplary, OR, below expectations, meets expectations, exceeds expectations).
  • Write descriptors for each aspect of the rubric – descriptions of the student performance that is judged. Descriptors should be consistent across each criteria aspects but with variation in the amount, frequency, or duration (if ‘providing evidence for the argument’ is stated within a criteria, it should be part of each level, ‘provides strong evidence,’ provides minimal evidence,’ ‘provides no evidence’).

Additional Resources

Evaluate your rubric with the Rubric Rubric