What is a rubric?

A rubric is a learning and assessment tool that articulates the expectations for assignments and performance tasks by listing criteria, and for each criterion, describing levels of quality from excellent to poor (Andrade, 2000; Arter & Chappuis, 2007; Stiggins, 2001). The clarity of rubrics is the most important characteristic for its comprehension and application (Al-Rabai, 2014). Rubrics contain four essential features (Stevens & Levi, 2012):

(1) task description or a descriptive title of the task students are expected to produce or perform;

(2) a scale (and scoring) that describes the level of achievement (e.g., exceed expectation, meets expectation, doesn’t meet expectation);

(3) components/dimensions/criteria students are to attend to in completing the assignment/tasks (e.g., types of skills, knowledge, etc.); and

(4) description of the performance quality (performance descriptor) of the components/dimensions at each level of mastery.

Rubric Types

There are two different basic types of rubrics: Type 1:  Analytic Rubrics resemble a grid with criteria in the leftmost column and levels of achievement across the top row of the grid.  These types of rubrics identify and assess “components” of a finished product. Type 2:  Holistic Rubrics are more general and consist of a single scale that contains all criteria to be included in the evaluation.  These types of rubrics assess the finished product as a “whole”. The Basics of Rubrics from Penn State University Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence does a nice job of clarifying rubric types.

How do rubrics benefit students?

  • Clarify Expectations: Rubrics demystify grading by clearly stating a coherent set of criteria for performance (from excellent to poor) as well as detailed descriptions of each level of performance.
  • Improve Learning: Students report rubrics help them with learning and achievement.  Students can use rubrics to focus their efforts and self-assess their own work prior to submission.
  • Encourage Feedback and Reflection: Rubrics provide students with specific feedback and allow students to reflect on their performance in order to improve.

How do rubrics benefit faculty?

  • Save Time: Rubrics help faculty save time grading since uncertainty is reduced and the detailed descriptions for levels of achievement free the instructor from writing out long comments.
  • Provide Consistency Among Multiple Graders:   Large courses may use multiple graders (Co-instructors, Teaching Assistants, etc.).  Creating and using a common rubric may help to ensure more consistency among graders.
  • Reduce Bias: Rubrics help make grading more transparent and fair.
  • Justify Grading:  Rubrics document why faculty awarded certain grades.  Grading history is maintained.
  • Weigh Importance:  Since some assignment criteria is more important than others, rubrics allow instructors to “weigh” the criteria in order of the importance of the objectives of the assignment.

Example Rubrics from the University of Connecticut:

Find more sample rubrics here

More Info

For more information visit:


Berkeley University of California (2015). Center for Teaching and Learning (Rubrics website).  Retrieved June 23, 2015.

Andrade, H. G. 2000. Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership 57 (5), 13-18

Arter, J., & Chappuis, J. (2007). Creating and recognizing quality rubrics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Al-Rabai, A., (2014). Rubrics revisited. International Journal of Education and Research 2(5).

Stevens, D., & Levi, A. (2012). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning. Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

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