Writing Effective Rubrics
Writing an effective rubric can be challenging but taking the time to create one shows the students what is required to achieve a good grade on an assignment is important. This quick guide will provide some tips on how to develop an effective rubric. It will also provide some resources that you might want to use when writing a rubric. Writing an effective rubric does not have to be a solidarity task. It is sometimes done best when working with another faculty in your discipline.
Most of the information for this quick guide was obtained from Writing Effective Rubrics authored by Dr. Timothy S. Brophy, Professor, and Director of the Director of Institutional Assessment at the University of Florida, Gainesville
Types of Rubrics:
- Analytic Rubric: An analytic rubric presents a description of each level of achievement for each criterion, and provides a separate score for each criterion.
- Advantages: provides more detailed feedback on student performance; scoring more consistent across students and raters
- Disadvantages: more time consuming than applying a holistic rubric
- Use when:
- You want to see strengths and weaknesses.
- You want detailed feedback about student performance.
- Holistic Rubric: A holistic rubric presents a description of each level of achievement and provides a single score based on an overall impression of a student's performance on a task ( (Carriveau, 2010).
- Advantages: quick scoring, provides an overview of student achievement, efficient for large group scoring
- Disadvantages: does not provide detailed information; not diagnostic; may be difficult for scorers to decide on one overall score
- Use when:
- You want a quick snapshot of achievement.
- A single dimension is adequate to define quality.
The Parts of a Rubric:
Rubrics are composed of four basic parts (Hawaii, 2012). In its simplest form, the rubric includes:
- A task description. The outcome being assessed or instructions students received for an assignment.
- The characteristics to be rated (rows). The skills, knowledge, and/or behavior to be demonstrated.
- Levels of mastery/scale (columns). Labels used to describe the levels of mastery should be tactful but clear. Commonly used labels include:
- Exceeds expectations, meets expectations, near expectations, Below expectations
- Exemplary, proficient, marginal, unacceptable
- Mastery, proficient, developing, novice
- 4, 3, 2, 1
- The description of each characteristic at each level of mastery/scale (cells).
How to Develop a Rubric:
- Determine the type of rubric you wish to use – holistic or analytic (Carriveau, 2010).
- Identify what you want to assess. These form the criteria for the assessment. These are usually part of the description of the assignment or task.
- Identify the characteristics to be rated (rows)
- Specify the skills, knowledge, and/or behaviors that you will be looking for.
- Limit the characteristics to those that are most important to the assessment.
- Identify the levels of mastery/scale (columns). Tip: Aim for an even number (I recommend 4) because when an odd number is used, the middle tends to become the "catch-all" category.
- Describe each level of mastery for each characteristic (cells).
- Describe the best work you could expect using these characteristics. This describes the top category.
- Describe an unacceptable product. This describes the lowest category.
- Develop descriptions of intermediate - level products for intermediate categories. Important: Each description and each category should be mutually exclusive.
- Focus your descriptions on the presence of the quantity and quality that you expect, rather than on the absence of them. However, at the lowest level, it would be appropriate to state that an element is “lacking” or “absent ” (Carriveau, 2010).
- Keep the elements of the description parallel from performance level to performance level. In other words, if your descriptors include quantity, clarity, and details, make sure that each of these outcome expectations is included in each performance level descriptor.
- Try out the rubric.
- Apply the rubric to an assignment.
- Share with colleagues. ( Faculty members often find it useful to establish the minimum score needed for the student work to be deemed passable. For example, faculty members may decide that a "1" or "2" on a 4 - point scale (4=exemplary, 3=proficient, 2=marginal, 1=unacceptable), does not meet the minimum quality expectations. They may set their criteria for success as 90% of the students must score 3 or higher. If assessment study results fall short, action will need to be taken.)
- Discuss with colleagues. Review feedback and revise. Important: When developing a rubric for program assessment, enlist the help of colleagues. Rubrics promote shared expectations and grading practices which benefit faculty members and students in the program
Best Practices for Developing a Rubric:
- Use Word to create the rubric before you start to create it within MyCourses. This will allow you to make changes easily.
- Find and adapt an existing rubric! It is rare to find a rubric that is exactly right for your situation, but you can adapt an already existing rubric that has worked well for others and save a great deal of time. A faculty member in your program may already have a good one.
- Evaluate the rubric. Ask yourself:
- Does the rubric relate to the outcome(s) being assessed?
- Does it address anything extraneous? (If yes, delete.)
- Is the rubric useful, feasible, manageable, and practical? (If yes, find multiple ways to use the rubric, such as for program assessment, assignment grading, peer review, student self-assessment)
- Benchmarking - collect samples of student work that exemplify each point on the scale or level. A rubric will not be meaningful to students or colleagues until the anchors/benchmarks/exemplars are available.
- Anticipate that you will be revising the rubric.
- Share effective rubrics with your colleagues
Designing Scoring Rubrics for Your Classroom