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Designing Rubrics. Nancy Allen, Ph.D. College of Education Office of Faculty Development Qatar University. Adapted from: Baggio, C. (n.d.). Tips for designing rubrics . Retrieved on May 29, 2007, from rubrics .ppt and . Designing Rubrics.

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Designing rubrics l.jpg

Designing Rubrics

Nancy Allen, Ph.D.

College of Education

Office of Faculty Development

Qatar University

Adapted from: Baggio, C. (n.d.). Tips for designing rubrics. Retrieved on May 29, 2007, from and

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Designing Rubrics

Students as Self Assessors

Teachers as Focused Coaches

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What is a rubric?

  • A rubric is a guideline for rating student performance.

  • Benefits:

    • The rubric provides those doing the assessment with exactly the characteristics for each level of performance on which they should base their judgment.

    • The rubric provides those who have been assessed with clear information about how well they performed.

    • The rubric also provides those who have been assessed with a clear indication of what they need to accomplish in the future to better their performance.

Asmus, E, (1999). Rubrics. Retrieved on May 29, 2007, from

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What is a rubric?

  • Quality Continuum

  • A rubric must define the range of possible performance levels.  Within this range are different levels of performance which are organized from the lowest level to the highest level of performance.  Usually, a scale of possible points is associated with the continuum where the highest level receives the greatest number of points and the lowest level of performance receives the fewest points.

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What is a rubric?

  • A rubric is a lesson in quality

  • A public declaration of expectations

  • A communication tool

  • A self-assessment tool for learners

  • A gauge for examining performance

  • A self-fulfilling prophecy

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What is a rubric?

  • Quality Continuum

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Rubric vs. Checklist

Checklist for a friendly letter

  • ______ Date, flush left at top

  • ______ Address

  • ______ Greeting

  • ______ Body

  • ______ Salutation

  • ______ Signature

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Rubric vs. Checklist

  • Checklists have not judgment of quality.

  • Checklists can only be used when “present or absent” is a sufficient criterion for quality.

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Rubric vs. Checklist

  • Rubrics include descriptors for each targeted criterion.

  • Rubrics provide a scale which differentiates among the descriptors.

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point value


What is a rubric?

  • Descriptors

  • Each level of performance should have descriptors which clearly indicate what is necessary to achieve that level of performance. 

  • Example

    Organization of Thought (4-points): “Work is clearly organized and includes a diagram or step-by-step analysis.”

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Determining Standards of Excellence

  • How many degrees of quality should you include?

  • Should you use language or numbers? If language, what descriptive terms should you use?

  • Should you weigh the items?

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  • The specific areas for assessment

  • Focus areas for instruction

  • Clear and relevant

  • Age appropriate

  • Form and function represented

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  • Descriptors of level of performance for the criteria

    Conclusion includes whether the findings supported the hypothesis, possible sources of error, and what was learned from the experiment.

  • Clear, observable language

  • Examples for learners

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How do rubrics alter instruction?

  • The teacher commits to teaching quality.

  • The teacher commits to assisting the student self-assess.

  • The focus is on each product and/or performance.

  • The labels are removed from students.

  • Specificity appears in all communications.

  • Everyone gives and receives feedback.

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Whom does a rubric assist?

  • It is a feedback system for students to judge a product or performance.

  • It is a feedback tool for teachers to provide clear, focused coaching to the learner.

  • It is a system that promotes consistent and meaningful feedback over time.

  • It is a communication tool for parents.

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An even number of standards of excellence

Clear essential criteria

Realistic number of criteria

Explicit, observable indicators

If points… clear to students upfront

Deliberate sequence of criteria

High interjudge reliability

Tested out with students

What makes a quality RUBRIC?

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What makes a good judge?

  • Knowledge and experience with specific skill

  • Practice with rubri.

  • Objectivity

  • Questions rubric in advance to be sure all participants understand

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How do I get started?

  • Critique current models.

  • Ask students to define “quality” in relation to specific product or performance.

  • Translate into a modest rubric.

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Expert Input

Experts agree:

  • Rubrics are hard to design.

  • Rubrics are time-consuming to design.

  • “A rubric is only as useful as it is good. Using a bad rubric is a waste of time…”

    --Michael Simkins in “Designing Great Rubrics”

    Experts disagree:

  • How to design a “good” rubric

    Bottom line: Is it working for you and for your students?

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Holistic Or Analytic—Which To Use?


Views product or performance as a whole; describes characteristics of different levels of performance. Criteria are summarized for each score level.

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Holistic Or Analytic—Which To Use?

  • Excellent Researcher

    • included 10-12 sources

    • no apparent historical inaccuracies

    • can easily tell which sources information was drawn from

    • all relevant information is included

  • 2 - Good Researcher

    • included 5-9 sources

    • few historical inaccuracies

    • can tell with difficulty where information came from

    • bibliography contains most relevant information

  • 1 - Poor Researcher

    • included 1-4 sources

    • lots of historical inaccuracies

    • cannot tell from which source information came

    • bibliography contains very little information

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Holistic Or Analytic?

HOLISTIC—pros and cons

+ Takes less time to create.

+ Effectively determines a “not fully developed” performance as a whole

+ Efficient for large group scoring; less time to assess

- Not diagnostic

- Student may exhibit traits at two or more levels at the same time.

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Holistic Or Analytic?


Separate facets of performance are defined, independently valued, and scored. Facets scored separately

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Holistic Or Analytic?

Analytic—pros and cons

+ Sharper focus on target

+ Specific feedback (matrix)

+ Instructional emphasis

  • Time consuming

  • Takes skill and practice

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Task specific or general?

Task specific: Rubric designed for and references a specific assignment.

General: Rubric designed for and references a type of assignment frequently repeated.

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Tip #1

  • Use as many generalized rubrics as possible.

    • Efficient

    • Builds recognition of excellence

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Tip #2

  • If using pre-designed rubrics carefully consider quality and appropriateness for your project.

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Tip #3

  • Aim for concise, clear, jargon-free language

    “…in most instances, lengthy rubrics probably can be reduced to succinct…more useful versions for classroom instruction. Such abbreviated rubrics can still capture the key evaluative criteria needed to judge students’ responses. Lengthy rubrics, in contrast, will gather dust” (Benjamin 23).

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Tip #4

  • Limit the number of criteria, but

  • Separate key criteria.

    • “Very clear” and “very organized” may be clear but not organized or vice versa.

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Tip #5

  • Use key, teachable criteria.

    Key Questions: What are my objectives? Are there other generalized objectives that should be included?

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Tip #6

  • Use concrete versus abstract and positives rather than negatives

    • Instead of “poorly organized” use “sharply focused thesis, topic sentences clearly connected to thesis, logical ordering of paragraphs, conclusion ends with clincher”.

      Key Question to ask yourself: Would student know what quality “looked like” by this description?

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Tip #7

  • Use measurable criteria.

    • “Includes two or more new ideas…” instead of “creative and imaginative”

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Tip #8

  • Aim for an even number of levels

    • Create continuum between least and most

    • Define poles and work inward

    • List skills and traits consistently across levels

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Tip #9

  • Include students in creating or adapting rubrics

  • Consider using “I” in the descriptors

    • I followed precisely—consistently—inconsistently—MLA documentation format.

    • I did not follow MLA documentation format.

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Tip #10

  • Provide models of the different performance levels.

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The Assignment Sheet

  • Link the assignment sheet and the rubric. Use same language.

  • Include all non-negotiable items.

    • On time

    • Formatted correctly

    • Follows standard conventions…

    • Etc.

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Rubrics for formative assessment

  • Encourage students to “check progress” using the rubric.

  • Encourage / require self-assessment and/or peer assessment.

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Steps in Developing a Rubric

  • Design backwards—rubric first; then product/performance.

  • Decide on the criteria for the product or performance to be assessed.

  • Write a definition or make a list of concrete descriptors—identifiable-- for each criterion.

  • Develop a continuum for describing the range of performance for each criterion.

  • Keep track of strengths and weaknesses of rubric as you use it to assess student work.

  • Revise accordingly.

  • Step back; ask yourself, “What didn’t I make clear instructionally?” The weakness may not be the rubric.

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Rubrics On Line

  • "Rubistar Rubric Generator" ( 

  • "Teacher Rubric Maker" (

  • “Rubrician” (”

  • Rubrics for Web Lessons (

  • An Online Rubric Maker (

References l.jpg

  • Andrade, H.(2000). Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

  • Asmus, E, (1999). Rubrics. Retrieved on May 29, 2007, from

  • Baggio, C. Designing rubrics: Revising instruction and improving performance. Retrieved on March 1, 2007, from

  • Baggio, C. (n.d.). Tips for designing rubrics. Retrieved on May 29, 2007, from

  • Benjamin, A.(2000). An English teacher’s guide to performance tasks and rubrics. Larchmont: Eye on Education.

  • Leavell, A. (n.d.). Authentic assessment: Using rubrics to evaluate project-based learning. WEBLIBRARY.

  • Matthews, J. (2000). Writing by the rules no easy task. Retrieved on October 25, 2000 from <>

  • Simkins, M. (1999, August). Designing great rubrics. Technology and Learning.

  • Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Tips for developing effective rubrics. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.