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In its literal meaning, rubrics are red letters used to highlight certain words in texts dating back the the Middle Ages.Today, a rubric is a series of narrative statements describing the levels of quality of a product or performance. A rubric is a scoring tool that lists the criteria for the varying levels of performance on a task, performance, or program characteristic where more objective methods of rating are not appropriate.

In its visual form a rubric is a table that describes a few levels of competency for the student's end product, usually three to five, which range from the poor to the excellent.

Rubrics give students a way to see what components are needed to successfully obtain the optimal grade on the assignment. It also standardizes the criteria needed to complete the assignment so that teachers can actually show students what they hit and/or missed in their submitted work.
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How do Rubrics make grading easier?

Rubrics allow the teacher to focus on key characteristics and determine the objective of what they want their students to learn. It simplifies what could be a complex assignment, which makes grading easier. Rubrics can be either Holistic or analytical.
- Holistic rubrics assess students work as a whole. (Teacher Vision)
- Analytical rubrics identify and assess components or levels of criterion of a finished product. (Teacher Vision)

Please click on this link to see an example of an analytical rubric and an holisitc rubric.

What Learning Theories best fit the Rubrics?

Constructivism which is learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts based upon current and past knowledge or experience can be applied to the use of rubrics. Rubrics when given to the student before the student has to complete a project allows the student to understand what is expected from him and her and allows them create a final project that hopefully includes the concepts or elements expected from the teacher.

What are some of the benefits to using Rubrics?

1. Rubrics help teachers save time because after they start using them, it saves time as the grading process becomes more homogeneous.
2. They make the grading process consistent and fair.
3. You can easily use rubrics for students to evaluate their peer's work and give each other constructive feedback.
4. By using a rubric, the teacher is able to specifically outline exactly what is expected for each aspect of a project. As long as the students follow the rubric, they will not be confused as to what is expected of them.
5. Rubrics help to focus the teacher's attention to the specific aspect being covered by the rubric, which in turn helps teachers to cut grading time sometimes in half.
6. Provide students with more informative feedback about their strengths as well as areas in need of improvement.
7. Supports uniform and standardized grading processes among different faculty members;

What are some of the Drawbacks to using Rubrics?

1. Rubrics can be complex to create and may take a lot of time to create.
2. The correct set of criteria must be included otherwise students will not complete the task as intended.
3. Students may become overdependent on rubrics and have difficult completing assignments in which each objective and/or purpose is not clearly stated.
4. It can be difficult to quantify student performance for certain assessments.
5. When a rubric is not created accordingly it may lack reliability and validity (Reeves & Stanford, 2009).


Rubrics and Teaching
Time is a precious commodity in a classroom and teaching is full of distraction; the list of teachers administrative task is so long that it is a wonder any actual education takes place in the classroom. Streamlining teaching, testing and grading can have significant effect in the decorum of the classroom. Rubrics help teachers in streamlining the grading process, they not only help clarify the students expectation but if used effectively can also create a significant impact on teaching. Teachers can either generate rubric and clarify the students expectation with regards to tasks and performance or ask the students to generate a rubric. Students can work collaboratively to create a rubric for the task - this way they not only develop a strong understanding with regards to expectations but also realize the true nature of the assignment. Another collaborative approach of using rubric in teaching is peer to peer rubric evaluation. As the saying goes "the best way to learn is to teach...." the peer rubric evaluation does exactly that. Students develop diplomatic skills and get a strong handle on what is being asked in the assignment. Rubrics also clarify the expectancy for teachers, while creating a rubric a teacher is forced to critically reflect on the learning goals, objectives and instruction.

Using rubric in the classroom
A common perception is that rubrics are used in the classroom to let the students know what is expected out of them, however rubrics can be used in the classroom in many different ways and for many different purposes:

  1. Using Rubric for Classroom Cleaning and Housekeeping - Although quite nontraditional it important for teachers to teach students about housekeeping activities in the classroom and to maintain a healthy and clean classroom, often students consume food, litter or drop something; having a rubric and creating a non punitive responsible activity can help teachers in creating a healthy, clean and organized classroom
  2. Rubric for Public Speaking - Many freshman and sophomore students at college level have difficulty with presentation and public speaking. Creating and implementing public speaking rubrics in which students have to complete one public speaking task per week or as per schedule convenience can help students develop there communication skills and help them gain necessary confidence for publicly sharing their views.
  3. Rubric for School and Classroom behavior - This is an excellent way to create the best homeroom class; the rubric will help the students to keep their behavior in check and also create a peer to peer review pressure where students within a group will reflect on their behavior as a class and keep improving their classroom behavior
  4. Self-Evaluation Rubric - Educators also need to teach students about self-awareness along with all the content knowledge; a school used this self-evaluation rubric technique to allow their students to reflect on their day to day behavior - students then summited a their own rating for their behavior over a period of time - surprising students had stricter expectancy than their teacher and the entire exercise benefited the students and the teachers.

Do students prefer or dislike Rubrics?

Students tend to prefer rubrics when they are made aware of the rubric prior to instruction and assessment. When they know the level of performance expected, they are more motivated to reach those standards. Also, if students are involved in rubric construction (with the teacher or team created rubrics), the assignment itself becomes more meaningful to the students. (Zimmaro, D. Dr., 2004).

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Please Click on the Cartoon Comic Strip above to See a Video of a Major Writing Rubric Perspective!

What kinds of Assignments would Rubric grading work best?

Please click on the links in order to see examples of types of rubrics used for each kind of assignment.


What composes a sturdy Rubric?

A well-constructed rubric evaluates students' knowledge and provides a teacher self- assessment by allowing the teacher to instruct the criteria or characteristics found in the rubric (Reeves & Stanford, 2009).

(1) A good rubric has criteria that…


  • Are linked to standards and student objectives
  • Are logically ordered (if applicable)
  • Are written in clear, concise, student-friendly language
  • Are defined by levels of descriptors (Level 5 = exemplary, Level 3 = meeting the standard, Level 1 = Poor)
(2) A good rubric has descriptors that…
  • Are evenly graduated from the highest to the lowest level
  • Are measurable
  • Include elements that are present at all levels and in the same order
  • Can be used by teachers effectively and efficiently to assess student learning


Click here to view a website based on Nancy Osbourne's book titled, "Rubrics for Elementary Assessment." This websites outlines the differences between a superior, good, and poor rubric.

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Teacher resources for creating rubrics:
http://www.utexas.edu/academic/mec/research/pdf/rubricshandout.pdf - Developing grading rubrics guide (Zimmaro, D Dr., 2004)
http://www.teach-nology.com/web_tools/rubrics/ - Rubric maker website and examples of rubrics
http://www.rubrics4teachers.com/presentation.php - Oral Presentation rubrics for K-12 teachers
http://www.tensigma.org/rubrics/about/rubrics_rb2.html#Anchor-23522- This website explains the different types of holisitic and analytical rubrics.
http://rubistar.4teachers.org/ A free tool to help teachers create quality rubrics.

References