Using Rubrics

What is a rubric?

A rubric is tool used by an instructor to assess student work. In particular, rubrics can be useful because they help both instructor and student understand expectations for an assignment, as well as how that assignment will be assessed. Because rubrics can take some time to create and use, they are most often used for weighty summative assessments, such as papers, discussions, projects, etc.

There are many different ways to format or structure a rubric. However, no matter their format, all rubrics outline some type of criteria for grading and describe how a student might meet that criteria. This guide will take a look at several different types of rubrics later on and discuss their various advantages and disadvantages.

Why should I use a rubric?

According to Gregory (2014), there are a number of researched-supported reasons instructors might want to us a rubric for an assignment, including:

  • Transparency: Rubrics make it easier for students to understand how they are being assessed. Because rubrics are short, generally no more than 1-2 pages, students can understand assignment expectations at a glance.
  • Consistency: Often times, instructors have several sections of the same course. Rubrics ensure that the instructors are using the same grading process for each course.
  • Establishing objectivity: Students sometimes have concerns about whether an instructor’s grading procedures are “fair” or objective. By establishing the exact grading criteria, rubrics create the sense that an instructor is fair and unbiased.
  • Efficiency: It’s no secret that grading assessments can sometimes take huge amounts of time. Rubrics help instructors streamline the process of grading and make grading more efficient.
  • Self-assessment and peer-assessment: Rubrics have the added benefit of allowing students to self-assess, as well as easily engage in peer-assessment activities.
  • Track student improvement: It can be very beneficial to use rubrics in conjunction with formative assessments to track students’ progress. Rubrics, and the feedback on rubrics, allow instructors to see how and where students have improved or where they still might improve.

Types of Rubrics:

Next, let’s take a look at different types of rubrics; we’ll cover three types in this guide:

  • Holistic Rubrics
  • Analytic Rubrics
  • Single-point rubrics