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Using Rubrics

A rubric is a scoring tool that indicates the criteria for a student assignment. It describes the standards the assignment must fill in terms of such criteria as thesis statement, organization, supporting materials, style/voice, and writing mechanics. For each criterion, the rubric commonly describes discrete levels of quality, ordered from highest to lowest. Rubrics can be used for essays, papers, participation, presentations, projects, or work groups.

A good rubric is closely aligned with the goals and objectives of the course, and includes descriptions associated with higher-order cognitive skills. A quick search of Google using keywords "rubrics" plus the type of assessment to be administered (e.g., "class discussion," "groups," or "participation") will yield many examples.

Why Should You Use A Rubric?

A well-constructed rubric can:

  • Be used as a tool for both teaching and assessment
  • Improve students' critical thinking about their own work
  • Help articulate standards and goals for instructors
  • Reduce grading time
  • Offer more meaningful feedback to students
  • Be flexible enough to apply to diverse populations of students

How Should You Use Rubrics In Your Course?

While rubrics are typically thought of as grading tools, they should be built into the presentation and description of course assignments:

  • Discuss various examples of papers and how they would be scored according to the rubric.
  • Have students complete peer reviews using the rubric. This is beneficial because students practice breaking down their classmates' work and classifying it into various levels of the rubric. This gives them a better understanding of how and why their own papers are assessed in relation to the rubric.
  • Allow students to self-assess through revision. This lets students learn how to formally compare their work to the rubric. Because they are then more familiar with the rubric, they are better able to incorporate feedback and improve their work.
  • To enhance motivation and help create a sense of community, have the class create their own rubrics for assignments. This learner-centered approach gives students a sense of contributing to the learning process, while ensuring that they develop a close understanding of the criteria used for evaluation.

Rubric Tools

  • Canvas includes a rubric feature that can be directly and easily implemented into a course site. See our Rubrics FAQ for more information.
  • The Grademark feature (also incorporated in Canvas) also includes a rubric-creation tool for assignments submitted to TurnItIn. Tutorials can be found on the Turnitin website.
  • The Rubric for Evaluating Discussion Board Posts template can be used as a tool in conjunction with designing online discussion activities.
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  • 18-Feb-2020