Creating and Using Rubrics

 A rubric is a scoring tool that explicitly describes the instructor’s performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric identifies:

  • criteria: the aspects of performance (e.g., argument, evidence, clarity) that will be assessed
  • descriptors: the characteristics associated with each dimension (e.g., argument is demonstrable and original, evidence is diverse and compelling)
  • performance levels: a rating scale that identifies students’ level of mastery within each criterion  

Rubrics can be used to provide feedback to students on diverse types of assignments, from papers, projects, and oral presentations to artistic performances and group projects.

Benefiting from Rubrics

A carefully designed rubric can offer a number of benefits to instructors. Rubrics help instructors to:

  • reduce the time spent grading by allowing instructors to refer to a substantive description without writing long comments
  • help instructors more clearly identify strengths and weaknesses across an entire class and adjust their instruction appropriately
  • help to ensure consistency across time and across graders
  • reduce the uncertainty which can accompany grading
  • discourage complaints about grades

An effective rubric can also offer several important benefits to students. Rubrics help students to:

  • understand instructors’ expectations and standards
  • use instructor feedback to improve their performance
  • monitor and assess their progress as they work towards clearly indicated goals
  • recognize their strengths and weaknesses and direct their efforts accordingly

Rubric Resources

“A rubric is an assessment tool that lists the criteria for a piece of work or what counts (for example, purpose, organization, details, voice, and mechanics often are what count in a written essay) and articulates gradations of quality for each criterion, from excellent to poor.” (Andrade, 2005) 

Rubrics help to improve the consistency and efficiency of grading. When implemented most effectively, they help to clarify expectations for both instructors and students and result in enhanced student learning and performance. The following resources offer a comprehensive introduction to rubric design, use, and contribution to student learning. 


1. Allen, Deborah and Tanner, Kimberly. “Rubrics: Tools for Making Learning Goals and Evaluation Criteria Explicit for Both Teachers and Learners.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 5 (2006): 197-203. Retrieved September 25, 2014 from

This article provides an excellent and easily digested introduction to rubric types and design. 

2. Andrade, Heidi. “Teaching With Rubrics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” College Teaching 53.1 (2005): 27-31. Retrieved July 14, 2014 from

This article gives a brief overview of the structure and purposes of rubrics; reviews the benefits of using rubrics as both teaching and grading tools; warns against approaches that limit the effectiveness of rubrics; and urges instructors to take simple steps toward ensuring the validity, reliability, and fairness of their rubrics. 

3. Andrade, Heidi and Du, Ying. “Student Perspectives on Rubric-Referenced Assessment.” Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation 10.3 (2005): n. pag. Retrieved July 2, 2014 from

This article describes the ways in which undergraduate students employ rubrics to support their own learning. Students report that using rubrics helped them focus their efforts, produce work of higher quality, earn better grades, and feel less anxious about assignments. 

4. Andrade, Heidi. “What Do We Mean by Results? Using Rubrics to Promote Thinking and Learning.” Educational Leadership 57.5 (2000): 13-18. 

This article focuses on the use of rubrics as learning tools. Andrade suggests that, when used to their full potential, rubrics promote student understanding and lead to improved performance, while simultaneously supporting consistent and accurate evaluation by instructors. 

5. Jonsson, Anders. “Facilitating Productive Use of Feedback in Higher Education.” Active Learning in Higher Education 14.1 (2013): 63-76. Retrieved June 5, 2014 from

Teachers can often be frustrated by the perception that students do not apply feedback on assignments and evaluations to improve future work. In this paper, Jonsson explores barriers to students’ productive use of feedback and makes suggestions for how faculty can help to make feedback meaningful and transformative.

6. Jonsson, Anders and Svingby, Gunilla. “The Use of Scoring Rubrics: Reliability, Validity and Educational Consequences.” Educational Research Review 2 (2007): 130–144. ​ 

A review of the literature that explores whether there is evidence to suggest that rubrics enhance the reliability and validity of evaluations and whether they lead to measurable improvements in student learning. 


1. Assessment How-To: Creating and Using Rubrics. University of Hawaii – Manoa, 2013. Web at

Comprehensive rubric resource that addresses all aspects of rubric design and use. It also includes a number of excellent sample rubrics from across disciplinary contexts. 

2. Ronkowitz, Kenneth. Rubrics: Transparent Assessment in Support of Learning. n. d. Web at

Includes an introduction to rubrics and concrete steps for designing effective rubrics. It includes a Slideshare presentation and many useful links to additional resources about rubric creation and implementation. 

3. Using Rubrics. Cornell University, 2014. Web at

A well-organized web page that answers the following questions: Why use rubrics? How can you develop a rubric? and How can you effectively incorporate rubrics in a course? It also provides links to a number of highly useful online rubric resources. 


Harper College Creating Grading Importing a Rubric in Blackboard Dr Mochocki
How to Create a Rubric for Grading Student Work
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