What is a “Rubric”?

A rubric can be a powerful tool for sharing expectations with students on a given assignment and then subsequently for grading students’ work by measuring how well they have met the intended learning objectives.

Key characteristics – a Rubric . . .

  1. Is an assessment tool in the form of a “scoring guide.” When rubrics are designed around student learning outcomes, they can be used to evaluate how well students have acquired the skills, knowledge, or attitudes described in the learning outcomes.
  2. Is designed to evaluate students’ work based on the sum of a full range of performance criteria, rather than a single numeric score or letter grade. Students receive a separate score for each criterion, which when added together, will determine the overall grade for a given assignment.
  3. Can be created for any content area in any academic discipline (e.g., communication, library information science, and journalism and media studies) and for different types of assignments and projects. Rubrics can be successfully used in undergraduate, as well as graduate courses; and for different deliveries such as classroom-based, hybrid, and fully online courses.
  4. Is given to students at the start of an assignment (or project) to communicate the instructor’s expectations and how students will be graded, to help students self-assess their work before submitting assignments, and then subsequently for instructors to grade students’ final work and provide feedback.

Sample Rubric

Designing a “Rubric” can be time-consuming and challenging, especially the first time around. It takes much forethought to identify meaningful criteria and craft the descriptions to articulate the mastery levels (e.g., exemplary, proficient, developing, and beginning) for each criterion.

A sample rubric with its components for a Discussion Board Rubric can be found below:

Click image to enlarge

After rubrics have been implemented in a course, the results can be quite positive and worthwhile for instructors and students alike. Students appreciate having them because they understand the instructor’s expectations and how they will be graded, and as a result, do better on the assignment; and instructors value having them because the time to grade assignments with a rubric is significantly reduced and the grading process is objective and consistent for all students. Instructors report that it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to craft a rubric.

Rubric Resources

To assist instructors in designing a rubric, the IDTS Department provide a number of video tutorials about Rubrics and also sample rubrics that have been custom-designed by our staff and SC&I instructors working collaboratively for diverse SC&I courses (face-to-face, hybrid, and fully online).

Instructors may use one or more sample rubrics (shown below) as templates (Word documents) to create rubrics for their courses. The criteria, descriptions for the mastery levels, and weighting and points can be customized/modified for specific assignments – which should prove a real time saver.

IDTS Sample Rubrics/Templates (all .docx format)

Related Resources

  • Rubric Template (Blank) if you would like to start a Rubric from scratch.
  • Rubric Words Handout – an aid to help you write the descriptions for the different mastery levels in a rubric.