What is a rubric?

A rubric is a scoring guide that clearly articulates expectations for an assignment. It lists the criteria or components of an assignment and describes the standard or level of work required for each component to achieve a particular score.

Rubrics can be used as formative assessment tools that help students assess their own work and as summative assessment tools that help instructors objectively evaluate student achievement.

Why use rubrics?

Developing and using rubrics helps instructors:

  • identify and articulate to students the specific learning goals of each assignment
  • assess assignments consistently from student-to-student
  • save time when marking as descriptions associated with particular scores are already written out
  • identify areas in which students need more support and practice by evaluating aggregate rubric results

How can rubrics be used to improve student learning?

When we hand out rubrics with our assignments and explain how they will be used to evaluate student work, students can use them as guides when planning and completing their assignments. This helps them know exactly what we are expecting for a particular assignment and how each component will be evaluated.

If possible, we can also ask students to work with a partner to assess 2-3 example assignments using the rubric to ensure they understand all of the descriptors. This can be done in class or for homework and then compared to your scores during the next class.

Making expectations explicit in this way, allows students to set specific goals for successfully completing an assignment and become more independent in assessing their own progress. When graded assignments are returned, students receive clear, detailed feedback on the quality of their work through the descriptors, so they know what to work on for next time.

Rubrics can also be used as formative assessment tools. For writing assignments, students can assess their first draft or peer-review a classmate’s first draft using the rubric one week before the assignment is due. For presentation assignments, 2 groups can peer-review a practice run of each other’s presentation using the rubric a couple days before the assignment is due. These types of activities help students identify strengths and areas requiring improvement before their assignments are evaluated by their instructor.

Can we help?

This step-by-step guide to creating a rubric will help you get started. This example rubric has descriptions to help you fill in each section, and here are a few rubric templates in Word you can use for your assignments.

If you would like one-on-one help developing a rubric for one of your assignments, contact one of the curriculum consultants at TCDC at

To get help using the rubric tool in Brightspace, contact an EdTech advisor at or check out the EdTech iWeb for an upcoming workshop.


Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback, and Promote Student Learning by Dannelle Stevens and Antonia Levi is available in the Langara Library.

The podcast Still Not Sold on Rubrics from Teaching in Higher Education discusses what rubrics are, benefits of using them, how to create them, and some online tools for saving sample rubrics and developing your own.

Grant Wiggins, author of Understanding by Design, has written an informative blog post on rubrics.

The Association for Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AAHLE) has compiled links to a large number of sample rubrics. The links are categorized according to subject and assignment type.

Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Innovation has many excellent resources related to developing and incorporating rubrics in your courses.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence has a number of examples of rubrics for papers, projects, oral presentations, and class participation.

EdTechTeacher has a number of example rubrics for assessing digital media assignments such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and ePortfolios.

The University of Wisconsin School of Education has posted a list of links to a variety of example rubrics including ones for PowerPoint presentations, podcast assignments, research reports, oral presentations, and multimedia projects. Some of these examples are for K-12 classes, but they can easily be adapted.

Kathy Schrock’s webpage Assessment and Rubrics contains links to sample rubrics for a wide variety of assignments. Many of these assignments are designed for K-12, but can be easily adapted for higher education.