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Developing Effective Rubrics


A rubric is an evaluation tool that describes the criteria for performance at various levels using demonstrative verbs. It is a performance-based assessment process that accurately reflects content skills, process skills, work habits, and learning results.

Types of Rubrics

There are generally two types of rubrics: holistic and analytic. It is important to analyze the task, activity or project being assessed and determine which type of rubric is most appropriate to apply.

Holistic Rubric

A holistic rubric describes a student’s work as a single score–the report or project as a whole is assigned a score. Therefore, holistic rubrics are best suited to tasks that can be performed or evaluated as a whole such as, a paper or a thesis.

Analytic Rubric

Analytic rubrics specify criteria to be assessed at each performance level, provide a separate score for each criterion or outcome, and may include a composite score for overall performance. The composite score may be weighted based on the importance of each dimension.

Advantages and Disadvantages



Analytic Rubrics: 1. are time consuming to create and score. 2. need to be detailed - unless each point for each criterion is well-defined raters may not arrive at the same score. Holistic Rubrics: 1. do not provide detailed feedback for improvement. 2. criteria cannot be weighted or measured

Why Use Rubrics

Using rubrics focuses both students and teachers on two essential questions.

  • What do we want students to know and do?
  • What would exemplary demonstration of this learning look like?

Rubrics serve several purposes in the assessment process by:

  • Creating a common framework for evaluation.
  • Providing students with clear expectations about what will be assessed.
  • Increasing the consistency and objectivity of evaluating performances, knowledge, and understanding.
  • Providing students with information about learning expectations and attainment.
  • Giving students feedback and guidance on how to improve their work.

Developing Analytic Rubrics

Developing rubrics is challenging. The instructor needs to translate the performance of various assignments to the rubric fairly and reliably.

Rubrics can be developed using the following 8-step process:

Step 1: Determine learning objectives to be measured.
Step 2: Create an assessment that will accurately measure the stated learning objectives.
Step 3: Define each dimension/criterion to be measured and align to learning objectives.
Step 4: Adopt a scale for describing the range of performances.
Step 5: Write a description for each dimension for each point on the scale.
Step 6: Pilot the rubric with one program or course.
Step 7: Revise the rubric as needed.
Step 8: Share the assignment and rubric with students.

Anatomy of a Rubric

The image describes the items to be included in a rubric, including weight, dimensions, criteria, point range and course learning outcomes.

Tips on Creating Rubrics

  • Leave descriptors blank until you see assignments
  • Adapt other rubrics that are available
  • Include dimensions specific to the learning assessment
  • Use existing rubric tools 


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