​​​​​Assessing with rubrics

A rubric is a tool that describes the expected qualities to be evident in learner responses to an assessment task. It states the assessment criteria and the characteristics of different levels of performance in responses to the elements of the task. The assessment criteria should be drawn from the success criteria that accompany the learning intentions for the topic, unit of work or learning program.

A rubric provides a clear indication to learners of the expectations about the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills required to be demonstrated.  Learners can use the descriptions of performance characteristics to unpick the assessment criteria and develop understanding about what they mean.  Since the rubric is open and known to everyone the assessment is seen as fair.

When learners are involved in co-constructing the rubric with the practitioner at the beginning of the learning program they develop ownership of the assessment and the learning associated with it. They can use the rubric to plan, guide and review their work as they proceed thus becoming self-directed learners. Understanding the requirements and taking control of their learning engages and motivates learners to improve their performance.

A rubric enables learners to self-assess and review their work as they progress with the task. They may also seek feedback from peer review to indicate what others perceive they need to improve.

Rubrics may be designed in many formats and the example shows a common format.

Success criterion
Very high


 Sample rubric template

This format suggests a simple marking scheme ranging from 4 for Very high to 1 for Low might be appropriate but this is not helpful to learners. Each cell in the Rubric should contain a description of the characteristics of the work expected at that level. This will provide feedback to the learner about what they know, understand and can do well and what they need to work on to progress their learning. A rubric is most often used for the summative assessment but it is also a formative assessment tool in that the comments about the levels the learner has achieved provide feedback about what the learners needs to work on to progress their learning. A rubric might also be completed sometime during the task as formative assessment to the learner and this can be compared with the final summative assessment to show how the learner has progressed during the course of the assessment period.

Tips for creating effective rubrics​

  • rubrics are more powerful when used in conjunction with samples of learners' work or exemplars
  • consider ready-made rubrics only as starting points –constantly modify them with learner input
  • consider having learners assess a model piece of work using a rubric
  • use rubrics as guides during the process of completing an assessment
  • practise creating rubrics with learners about a familiar topic, ensuring that you take into account developmental stages and background experience
  • collaborate with learners to put rubrics into learner-friendly language.
  • encourage learners to highlight or checkmark rubrics, using them as a visual guide while completing assessments
Read this useful guide from the university of Lethbridge, California about creating rubrics​.




Further Reading

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Updated 11/05/2016