Closeup view of the Tri Delt sundial


A rubric is a guide that describes the criteria that will be used to score or grade an assignment. A rubric identifies the traits that are important and describes the levels of performance (e.g., unacceptable to excellent) within each of the traits.Rubrics can:--Clarify for student the expectations for an assignment.--Reduce bias and improve consistency in scoring.--Communicate to students both their strengths and weaknesses.--Assist faculty in determining which (student) skills are well-developed and which skills require improvement.

When developing a rubric:

  1. Determine what the rubric will encompass. Think about the following questions:
    • Why are you creating the rubric, and what is its purpose?
    • What is the assigned task, and how does it breaks down (are there multiple tasks that are equal or unequal)?
    • What kind of feedback do you want to provide?
    • How might you describe different levels of student performance?
  2. Define the criteria. What knowledge/skills are required to complete this assignment? Review the learning objectives for the course (and program, if appropriate). If possible, review previous student work from the task or assignment to help inform this work. Be cognizant of the number of criteria that you have. Too many will make an unwieldy rubric. Aim to have criteria that is distinct, measurable and/or observable, and essential to the item that is being assessed.
  3. Design the rating scale. Determine how many levels of achievement you want to assess (typically 3-5 are used). Think about whether you will use numbers or descriptive labels for your different levels of achievement, and what those labels will be.
  4. For each criterion, develop descriptions for each level of the rating scale. Create statements that exemplify performance at that particular level of the criterion. Use clear, unambiguous language consistently across all levels. This provides clear expectations for your students, and other reviewers (if you will assess using multiple reviewers).
  5. Pilot the rubric. Ask for others to review your rubric. Ensure that the language and levels accurately reflect your intentions for the rubric. Revise as necessary.
  6. If you will be using the rubric with multiple reviewers, you should norm the rubric before use. This simple process provides an opportunity for reviewers to come together before the actual assessment to finalize the language and composition of the rubric. Norming typically results in more consistent results across reviewers.
  7. When norming, typical steps include:
    • The facilitator of norming (usually the person who developed the rubric), initially talks through the rubric as applied to several examples of student work.
    • Reviewers are asked to independently score a few student examples.
    • Raters are brought together to discuss their scoring processes and look for patterns in consistency and inconsistency.
    • The group reconciles inconsistencies in scoring. Consensus is acceptable: not all reviewers have to agree.
    • Repeat c-d with a new set of student examples.
    • Consider tweaking rubric language for pervasive inconsistencies.
    • As necessary, repeat steps c-d until score is consistent.