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Create a Rubric

What is a rubric?

A rubric is a set of criteria and a scoring scale that is used to evaluate students’ work.

For example: A particular essay question on an exam might be worth 3 points. Determining how to assign those points can be made more simple and consistent with a rubric such as:

  • 3 points = fully addresses the question with well-supported arguments and explanations
  • 2 points = fair job -- arguments aren’t fully supported and/or explanations aren’t complete or contain a few incorrect assumptions
  • 1 point = minimal effort made -- or most of the content is incorrect
  • 0 points = no attempt or answering the wrong question

Rubrics typically identify levels or ranks with criteria indicated for each level. Rubrics can have as few as two levels of performance or as many as appropriate.  Some may be as simple as Pass/ NO pass while others can have 3-5 levels.

Another familiar generic sample used for SLO assessment college wide:

  • Meets the outcome -- student meets or exceeds this outcome
  • Developing the outcome -- student doesn’t yet meet the outcome but demonstrates evidence of developing it
  • No evidence of the outcome -- student completed the assessment but provided no evidence of developing the outcome

Rubrics break down a single assignment or project into subcategories that address different elements of the assignment and its intended outcomes. They detail the key elements of the SLO and illustrate the standards that will be used to determine success, which can be extremely helpful for both faculty and students (when rubrics are shared with students).

Rubrics can also help instructors teaching different sections of the same course a standard way to  analyze assessments providing clearer communication across multiple sections. When used  over multiple semesters, rubrics can provide benchmarks against which to measure and document progress. Generally speaking, the more detail a rubric provides, the better.  As a side note, students find tremendous value in rubrics.  A rubric provided in advance of the due date can be an essential tool that students use to guide their approach to completing an assignment.  It is a way for you to communicate your expectations of student learning with your students.

Advantages of rubrics for instructors

  • Objective and consistent among all students
  • Leads to insight concerning the effectiveness of instruction
  • Clarifies criteria in specific terms
  • Data analysis becomes easier
  • Shows areas in need of improvement
  • Establishes “ground rules” to resolve potential academic disputes
  • Reduces subjectivity involved in evaluating qualitative work
  • Benchmarks against which to measure and document progress
  • Reduces time necessary to evaluate student work
  • Ensures all instructors are measuring work by same standards
  • Promotes connection between student assessment and course objectives

Advantages of rubrics for students

  • Helps define “quality”
  • Instructors expectations are clear
  • Manner in which to meet the expectations are clear
  • Students can better judge and revise their own work and assist their peers
  • Vehicle for student feedback – promote student/faculty communication
  • Promotes self assessment of their own learning and performance
  • Leads to improvements in the quality of student work

Developing a Rubric:

  1. Work with others teaching the course – this can take place during in-person meetings, through online collaboration, or a combination of both.
  2. Break down the SLO and look for key features. These will become the Primary Traits and will go down the side of the rubric
  3. Decide if you want a “yes/no” measure or one that includes levels. These will become the Levels of Mastery and will go across the top of the rubric
  4. Describe the observable behaviors that lead to the levels in #2 for each of the Primary Traits. These go in the spaces between the Primary Traits and the Levels of Mastery.

Holistic Rubric

Holistic rubrics provide a single score based on an overall impression.  They tend to be used when a quick or gross judgment needs to be made. If the assessment is a minor one, such as a brief homework assignment, it may be sufficient to apply a holistic judgment (e.g., check, check-plus, or no-check) to quickly review student work. Although holistic rubrics can also be employed for more substantial assignments, they will not provide information specific to the multiple skills that a student may employ when completing the assignment. However,some tasks it is not easy to evaluate performance on one criterion independently of performance on a different criterion.

  Score   Description
  5   Demonstrates complete understanding of the problem. All requirements of task are included in response.
  4   Demonstrates considerable understanding of the problem. All requirements of task are included.
  3   Demonstrates partial understanding of the problem. Most of the requirements of task are included.
  2   Demonstrates little understanding of the problem. Many requirements of task are missing.
  1   Demonstrates no understanding of the problem.
  0   No response/task not attempted.


Analytic Rubric

When using an analytic rubric, the instructor scores separate, individual parts of the assignment or performance first, then sums the individual scores to obtain a final score. Analytic rubrics consists of two components: Criteria (vital traits, key qualities, dimensions) and Levels of Performance.

Analytic rubrics provide useful feedback on areas of strength and weaknesses and the criterion can be weighed to reflect relative importance of each criterion.  This can be particularly useful when asking the question “why” a student was unable to meet a learning outcome.  A rubric will often inform your understanding of what specific skills need to be addressed in subsequent learning and assessment.


Levels of Performance

Skills/ Criterion







Description reflecting beginning level of performance

Description reflecting movement toward mastery level of performance

Description reflecting achievement of mastery level of performance

Description reflecting highest level of performance


Analytic Rubric Example - Narrative Essay

  3 2 1 0



Thesis Statement


Well-developed introduction engages the reader and creates interest. Contains detailed background information. Thesis clearly states a significant and compelling position.
Conclusion effectively wraps up and goes beyond restating the thesis. 
Introduction creates interest. Thesis clearly states the position.
Conclusion effectively summarizes topics.  
Introduction adequately explains the background, but may lack detail.  Thesis states the position.
Conclusion is recognizable and ties up almost all loose ends.
Background details are a random collection of information, unclear, or not related to the topic. Thesis is vague or unclear.
Conclusion does not summarize main points.
Body Paragraphs
Well developed main points directly related to the thesis. Supporting examples are concrete and detailed.  
The narrative is developed with a consistent and effective point-of-view, showing the story in detail.
Three or more main points are related to the thesis, but one may lack details.  The narrative shows events from the author's point of view using some details. Three or more main points are present. The narrative shows the events, but may lack details. Less than three main points, and/or poor development of ideas.    The narrative is undeveloped, and tells rather than shows, the story.
Logical progression of ideas with a clear structure that enhances the thesis.  Transitions are mature and graceful. Logical progression of ideas.  Transitions are present equally throughout essay. Organization is clear. Transitions are present.  No discernable organization.  Transitions are not present. 
Sentence flow, variety
Writing is smooth, skillful, coherent.  Sentences are strong and expressive with varied structure. Diction is consistent and words well chosen.   Writing is clear and sentences  have varied structure.  Diction is consistent.   Writing is clear, but sentences may lack variety.  Diction is appropriate.  Writing is confusing, hard to follow.  Contains fragments and/or run-on sentences. Inappropriate diction. 
Spelling, punctuation, capitalization
Punctuation, spelling, capitalization are correct.  No errors. Punctuation, spelling, capitalization are generally correct, with few errors. (1-2) A few errors in punctuation, spelling, capitalization. (3-4) Distracting errors in punctuation, spelling, capitalization.

From Glendale Community College - English 101 Online

Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Rubric

The follwoing questions should be posed when evaluating whether the rubric being used is effective:

  • Does the rubric relate to the outcome(s) being measured?
  • Does it cover important criteria for student performance?
  • Does the top of the rubric reflect excellence?
  • Are the criteria and scales well-defined?
  • Can the rubric be applied consistently by different scorers