Rubrics for Assessments

A rubric is a public assessment tool that is used to evaluate the quality of a student’s work, such as an essay or presentation. Traditionally, these are presented in table format with a detailed breakdown of grading metrics. Rubrics vary based on the given subject material, but some common characteristics include focus on measuring an explicit objective and using a range to rate performance. 

A rubric can be equally useful for you and your students. You will save time evaluating student work by having concrete metrics established beforehand. The public nature of rubrics allows students to evaluate and understand grading criteria, which can be subjective and complex. This enables you and your students to work towards a mutual and explicit understanding of what exactly is expected from student work. You may choose to integrate student feedback into subsequent rubrics, creating a dynamic assessment that students feel like they both understand and are personally invested in.

The different metrics of your rubric will vary based on the subject material and the specific work being evaluated. For example, you would not use the same metrics that you use to evaluate an at-home essay that you would to judge an in-class test, since the difference in environment and necessary subject mastery require different metrics for evaluation. Creating the ideal rubric is an ongoing, dynamic process of receiving and implementing feedback.

Example: Creating and using a rubric to score a writing assignment
(Goodrich, H. (1996). “Understanding Rubrics.” Educational Leadership, 54 (4), 14-18.)

  1. Have students review sample papers of varying quality and identify what is successful and what isn’t.

  2. Create a list of criteria to be used in the rubric and facilitate student discussion about what metrics define “quality” work.

  3. Create a scale that delineates levels of quality (bad to good) or development (beginning to mastery), and develop a hierarchical progression that succinctly describes what level of quality or development correlates to what metric.

  4. Have students do sample grading on model papers using the rubric.

  5. Ask for self and peer-assessment.

  6. Revise the work based on that feedback.

  7. Use teacher assessment, in other words, using the same scoring rubric that students used to assess their work.