Grading and Performance Rubrics
What are Rubrics?
A rubric is a scoring tool that explicitly represents the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric divides the assigned work into component parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each component, at varying levels of mastery. Rubrics can be used for a wide array of assignments: papers, projects, oral presentations, artistic performances, group projects, etc. Rubrics can be used as scoring or grading guides, to provide formative feedback to support and guide ongoing learning efforts, or both.
Advantages of Using Rubrics
Using a rubric provides several advantages to both instructors and students. Grading according to an explicit and descriptive set of criteria that is designed to reflect the weighted importance of the objectives of the assignment helps ensure that the instructor’s grading standards don’t change over time. Grading consistency is difficult to maintain over time because of fatigue, shifting standards based on prior experience, or intrusion of other criteria. Furthermore, rubrics can reduce the time spent grading by reducing uncertainty and by allowing instructors to refer to the rubric description associated with a score rather than having to write long comments. Finally, grading rubrics are invaluable in large courses that have multiple graders (other instructors, teaching assistants, etc.) because they can help ensure consistency across graders and reduce the systematic bias that can be introduced between graders.
Used more formatively, rubrics can help instructors get a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of their class. By recording the component scores and tallying up the number of students scoring below an acceptable level on each component, instructors can identify those skills or concepts that need more instructional time and student effort.
Grading rubrics are also valuable to students. A rubric can help instructors communicate to students the specific requirements and acceptable performance standards of an assignment. When rubrics are given to students with the assignment description, they can help students monitor and assess their progress as they work toward clearly indicated goals. When assignments are scored and returned with the rubric, students can more easily recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their work and direct their efforts accordingly.
Examples of Rubrics
Here are links to a diverse set of rubrics designed by Carnegie Mellon faculty and faculty at other institutions. Although your particular field of study and type of assessment activity may not be represented currently, viewing a rubric that is designed for a similar activity may provide you with ideas on how to divide your task into components and how to describe the varying levels of mastery.
- Example 1: Capstone Project in Design This rubric describes the components and standard of performance from the research phase to the final presentation for a senior capstone project in the School of Design, CMU.
- Example 2: Engineering Design Project This rubric describes performance standards on three aspects of a team project: Research and Design, Communication, and Team Work.
- Example 1: Discussion Class This rubric assesses the quality of student contributions to class discussions. This is appropriate for an undergraduate-level course, CMU.
- Example 2: Advanced Seminar This rubric is designed for assessing discussion performance in an advanced undergraduate or graduate seminar.
Examples of Rubrics
Several examples of rubrics that can be found on the web are linked below to aid in the development of rubrics for post secondary education settings.
Template for Creating a Rubric
The below link is to a MSWord file that contains a template for a rubric and instructions for how to use and modify the template to meet individual grading needs. Instructors can download this file and modify it as needed to construct their own rubric.
AAC&U VALUE Rubrics
The AAC&U VALUE initiative (2007-09) developed 16 VALUE rubrics for the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes. Elements and descriptors for each rubric were based on the most frequently identified characteristics or criteria of learning for each of the 16 learning outcomes. Drafts of each rubric have been tested by faculty with their own students’ work on over 100 college campuses.
The VALUE rubrics contribute to the national dialogue on assessment of college student learning. The AAC&U web is widely used by individuals working in schools, higher education associations, colleges, and universities in the United States and around the world.
Instructors can use the rubrics in their current form. They can also modify the language and rubric elements to meet the specific needs of their assignment or assessment goal.
Access to the VALUE Rubrics is free. AAC&U requests that users register before downloading PDF or Word versions of the rubrics to assist their research on rubric use.
External link to AAC&U Rubric download page: http://www.aacu.org/value-rubrics
Collections of Rubric Links
Interactive Quality of an Online Course
Student Peer Review
Theses and Dissertations
Updated: 06/20/16 gb