Analytic Rubrics

Most of the time, when instructors envision a rubric, this is probably what they’re thinking of. These rubrics generally have three key features, which may be given different names depending on who you ask. Terminology found in the Utah Education Network’s guide is some of the most clear, so we’ll use that in this guide. The three components of an analytic rubric are:

  1. Criteria: The first component a rubric should have is criteria for assessment. In other words, what are the actual expectations for the assignment, or by what standards does the instructor intend to grade the assignment? Let’s use the same example as the holistic rubric on the previous page. Imagine students in an English literature course are completing a discussion board on Blackboard; for this assignment, perhaps the instructor wants to assess students on: a) response to the provided prompt, b) use of supporting evidence from the text, c) quality of interaction/discussion with peers, and d) professionalism. Each of these items would be then listed in the criteria portion of the rubric.
  2. Performance rating: A rubric should also contain performance ratings. These are designed to help you answer the question: how did the student perform for each criteria? You may also wish to include a points value here so that students can easily understand what their performance equates to in terms of grade. Often, this portion of the rubric uses language like “excellent,” “good,” and “poor.”
  3. Performance descriptions: The performance descriptions are the bulkiest part of the rubric. For this part of the rubric, you will describe the traits that correspond with each criteria and performance rating. So, going back to the English lit discussion board example, what would an “excellent” performance rating look like for students’ response to the prompt? What would a “good” performance look like? What about “poor”? The language for the performance descriptions should spell out how a student earns a particular performance rating for each criteria.

Below, figure 3 illustrates the “bones” of a basic analytic rubric structure and depicts the location and format of the criteria, performance rating, and performance descriptions.

Table depicting sample of an analytic rubric
Figure 3: Sample rubric structure with criteria, performance rating, and performance description

Figure 4 shows a full example of an analytic rubric for the same discussion board activity we’ve be referring to. You’ll notice that the bulk of the rubric is performance descriptions and that the rubric specifically details the expectations for every level of performance for each of the stated criteria.

Completed sample of an analytic rubric
Figure 4: Sample holistic rubric for Blackboard discussion board in an English literature course

Advantages and Disadvantages of Analytic Rubrics:

According to Balch, Blanck, and Balch (2016), analytic rubrics are advantageous in that they help the instructor give students valuable feedback, while at the same time giving students clear ideas about how an assignment will be graded. Additionally, they provide the instructor with the ability to grade objectively and consistently.

There are also two major disadvantages. The first is that they do take considerable time to create because they require so much detailed information to be effective. Secondly, because they are so detailed, it is possible that students may not take the time to read them. (Balch, Blanck, and Balch, 2016).