Holistic Rubrics

A holistic rubric is a fairly general rubric, and it is easy to use and create. A holistic rubric gives a “whole” picture description of what is expected for an assignment, and it aligns these expectations with a corresponding grade or achievement level.

Figure 1 portrays a sample structure for a holistic rubric. The left side lists possible grades, but particular points values could be easily added here as well. The second column shows a description of the expectations for that grade. So, for the assignment that corresponds to this rubric, the instructor would consider: what would an assignment that earned an A look like, versus one that earned a B? And so on.

Table depicting a possible template for a holistic rubric.
Figure 1: Sample structure for holistic rubric

Figure 2 shows a completed example of a holistic rubric. This was created for a hypothetical discussion board activity in an English literature classroom. You’ll notice that, in the right-hand column, grades and points values are listed, as well as a brief descriptor of the overall performance like “outstanding” or “average.” The second column contains a detailed description of what qualities an assignment would have in order to earn an A or B, etc.

Table depicting a sample holistic rubric.
Figure 2: Completed sample of a holistic rubric for discussion board in English literature course

Advantages and Disadvantages of Holistic Rubrics:

According to Balch, Blanck, and Balch (2016), there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to using holistic rubrics. Advantages include that they are easy for the instructor to create and that they also help the instructor grade an assignment quickly. However, disadvantages include that they are very general and therefore do not allow much room to provide students personalized feedback.