Rubric (academic)

Rubric (academic)

A rubric is a scoring tool for subjective assessments. It is a set of criteria and standards linked to learning objectives that is used to assess a student's performance on papers, projects, essays, and other assignments. Rubrics allow for standardised evaluation according to specified criteria, making grading simpler and more transparent.

The rubric is an attempt to delineate consistent assessment criteria. It allows teachers and students alike to assess criteria which are complex and subjective and also provide ground for self-evaluation, reflection and peer review. It is aimed at accurate and fair assessment, fostering understanding and indicating the way to proceed with subsequent learning/teaching. This integration of performance and feedback is called "ongoing assessment."

Increasingly, instructors who rely on rubrics to evaluate student performance tend to share the rubric with students at the time the assignment is made. In addition to helping students understand how the assignment relates to course content, a shared-rubric can increase student authority in classroom, through transparency.

The following common features of rubrics can be distinguished, according to Bernie Dodge and Nancy Pickett:
*focus on measuring a stated objective (performance, behavior, or quality)
*use a range to rate performance
*contain specific performance characteristics arranged in levels indicating the degree to which a standard has been met.

Components of a rubric

Scoring rubrics include one or more dimensions on which performance is rated, definitions and examples that illustrate the attribute(s) being measured and a rating scale for each dimension. Dimensions are generally referred to as criteria, the rating scale as levels, and definitions as descriptors.

Herman, Aschbacher, and Winters distinguish the following elements of a scoring rubric:
*One or more traits or dimensions that serve as the basis for judging the student response
*Definitions and examples to clarify the meaning of each trait or dimension
*A scale of values on which to rate each dimension
*Standards of excellence for specified performance levels accompanied by models or examples of each level

Since the 1980s, many rubrics are presented in a graphic format, typically a grid. Studies of rubric effectiveness now consider the efficiency of a grid over, say, a text-based list of criteria.


Rubrics are often used in alternative assessments in education but have gained ground as a way of establishing written guidelines or standards of assessments for formal, professionally-administered essay tests like certain teacher assessment exams found in the PRAXIS series. In alternative assessment, rubrics are designed to reflect the processes and outputs of "real-life" problem solving. It is usually in the form of a matrix with a mutually agreed upon negotiated contract or criteria for success. The rubric focuses on stated objectives, which should be tied to the educational standards as established by the community, and should use a range or scale to rate the performance.

The "key advantage" for classroom teachers is that rubrics force clarification of success in the classroom, establishing clear benchmarks for achievement. By sharing scoring rubrics with students, they become aware of the expected standards and thus know what counts as quality work. With rubrics, grading becomes more objective, consistent, and defensible. Additionally, rubrics make grading more efficient. Time spent developing a grading rubric will be made up for in ease and speed of actual grading.

According to R. Sabetiashraf, rubrics serve a different role in different phases of assessment:
* During the pre-assessment phase, rubrics are used to clarify expectations and grading methods with learners. As a result, learners can perform a self-assessment prior to submission of their work.
* During the assessment phase, rubrics help evaluators to remain focused on the preset standards of excellence and objectively assess the learner.
* During the post-assessment phase learners are given a scored rubric with clear explanation of their grade. They are made aware of their weaknesses and strengths.

The Ontario rubric is an example of a rubric which has become fairly popular in the school system.


Root: Red, red ochre, red ink. Usage: Rubric refers to decorative text or instructions in medieval documents that were penned in red ink. In academia, rubrics originally referred to notes that a teacher penned in red ink while grading a paper. In modern academic jargon, rubrics have come to refer to a scoring tool.


One problem with rubrics is that each level of fulfillment encompasses a wide range of marks. For example, if two students both receive a 'level four' mark on the Ontario system, one might receive an 80% while the other receives 100%.

In addition, a small change in rubric evaluation caused by a small mistake may lead to an unnecessarily large change in numerical grade. Both of these problems may be addressed by the use of finer gradations in rubric evaluations.

Rubrics may also make marking schemes more complicated for students. Firstly, showing one mark may be inaccurate, as receiving perfect in one section may not amount to be very significant in the long run if that specific strand is not weighted heavily. Some may also find it difficult to comprehend an assignment having four distinct marks, which may make it unsuitable for some younger children. Nonetheless, it allows for students to compensate a lack of ability in one strand by improving another one. Therefore, if a student has difficulty communicating his/her ideas, they may still be able to attain a relatively high mark, as communication is typically not weighted heavily. Rubrics may also allow students to better their weaknesses.

Another advantage of a grading rubric is that it clearly shows what criteria must be met for a student to achieve a desired mark.

ee also

*Authentic assessment
*Standards-based assessment
*Educational technology
*Technology Integration


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