Rubrics SotL in 10 Minutes

What is the purpose of a rubric?

A rubric, at its most fundamental level, is a grading guide. Often in the form of a table or chart, it lists criteria or goals of an assignment paired with achievement levels. Within the body of the table are numerical values and/or descriptions of what to expect for each component at each level.

There are many purposes for a rubric, and your purpose can change with the course, assignment or student.

  • Increase grading efficiency - Much of the decision making process of what grade to assign has been dealt with.
  • Increase grading equitability - The decisions about point value or grades were made prior to grading.
  • Improve an assignment (professor design and development)
  • As you break down the important components of an assignment, you directions and instruction to students becomes more clear and focused.
  • Improve an assignment (student learning outcomes and performance) - The assignment is broken down for students into clear and manageable components.
  • Much more about this later in the week.

Examples of Rubrics

Why start from scratch when you can adopt and adapt?

This first resource describes the different types of rubrics – holistic, analytic, general, and task specific. At the bottom of the webpage are links to specific examples for some fairly general assignments.

Rubistar and RCampus will let you build your own rubric using a template or search the database of thousands of other rubrics that you can edit to make your own:

If these resources fail you, do a Google search for your assignment type and add the search term “rubric”.


Association of American Colleges and Universities Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education

The AAC&U LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise) initiative brought together dozens of faculty teams to develop 16 rubrics to assess essential learning outcomes for student success. These were designed for use with student assignments, but some departments at JU are using them for course and program evaluation.

You do have to provide an email address to view the rubrics, but no further information or registration is required.

Here are the 16 rubric titles. Each rubric has 4-7 criteria and all use the same four levels of proficiency – they are all task analytic rubrics.

Intellectual and Practical Skills

  • Inquiry and analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Written communication
  • Oral communication
  • Reading
  • Quantitative literacy
  • Information literacy
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Personal and Social Responsibility
  • Civic knowledge and engagement—local and global
  • Intercultural knowledge and competence
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Foundations and skills for lifelong learning
  • Global Learning
  • Integrative and Applied Learning

Using Rubrics in BB

Did you know you can grade, using a rubric, directly in Bb? You don’t have to download or save the file. You can score the rubric, and still provide comments or other specific feedback. And the grade can be automatically reported to the gradebook for students to see and review.

Below are the links from Arturo’s excellent list of Blackboard 9.1 support for faculty:

Creating a rubric

Rubrics and Students

Rubrics aren’t just for you. Certainly they can increase the efficiency and equitability with which you grade. But providing the rubrics in advance to your students can serve as a complete guide to all the nuances of an assignment.

  • You have broken down the whole into its components parts, each more manageable and less scary - and nothing has been forgotten.

  • If you are using an analytic rubric, descriptions of what is and what is not acceptable have been provided to help clarify directions and expectations.

I know I fall into the thougfht trap that surely my students know what I mean – but sometimes they really don’t. It is the first time they have done an assignment like this, or for me and my grading quirks. Sometimes we teach theory and concept, sometimes mechanics and sometimes we have to teach them how.

But don’t believe me – see for yourself

The use of scoring rubrics: Reliability, validity and educational consequences

Jonsson and Svingby, Education Research Review 2 (2007):130-144