Using Rubrics

Why Use Rubics?

Rubrics help instructors:

  • Provide clear, direct expectations and components of an assignment to students and TA
  • Clarify and provide specific and focused feedback to students to improve learning
  • Demystify assignment expectations for students
  • Develop consistency in how you evaluate student learning across students and throughout a class
  • Reduce time spent on grading; Increase time spent teaching
  • Refine teaching skills and course design by evaluating rubric results

Rubrics help students:

  • Focus efforts on completing assignments  with clearly defined expectations
  • Self-reflect and peer-reflect on their learning
  • Make informed changes to achieve their desired learning level

How to develop a rubric?

Ask colleagues for rubrics for similar assignments. Begin with one rubric for one assignment in a semester.

  • Assignment: Examine an assignment for your course. Select a time insensitive assignment to grade or one that students report as having unclear expectations.
  • Criteria: Decide what you want your students to demonstrate about their learning. The criteria or critical attributes must be objectively measurable.
  • Quality: Develop markers of quality and add descriptors that qualify each level of performance
  • You can also reinforce a developmental scale like Beginning, emerging, exemplary
  • You can assign a numerical scale to each level
  • Outline objective indicators.
  • The criteria must clearly differentiate one performance level from another
  • Draft: Give a draft of the rubric to colleagues and/ or TA’s for feedback
  • Students:  Give students the rubric ahead of time and advise them to use it to guide their assignment. Train students to use your rubric.
  • Feedback: solicit feedback from your students to help you judge whether the rubric is clear to them. Identify any weaknesses.

Incorporating rubrics in a course

  • Time: Consider how much class time is required for teaching and re-teaching the rubric
  • Introducing rubrics
  • Provide samples of a complete assignment. Consider asking students for permission to use their work as samples and remove their names
  • Have students use the rubric to evaluate sample assignments or peer assignments
  • Have students justify their evaluation and explain how they used the rubric
  • Have students share their evaluations with the class. Pay attention to their interpretation of the rubric since it may inform rubric adjustments.
  • Provide your evaluation of sample assignment and your justification and use of the rubric

Additional Resources: