Rubrics are a way to set up custom or outcome-based assessment criteria for grading. Rubrics are a structured way of communicating expectations to students and create a common framework for assessment. Rubrics allow instructors to efficiently provide feedback to students and help promote consistency in grading among graders and across time. Rubrics break down large assignments or projects into measurable pieces. They help instructors maintain objectivity by focusing on whether or not a student met the criteria for the assignment rather than how the student did compare to their peers. In order to experience the benefits of effective rubrics, there are some important points to remember when designing and using them.

Creating Rubrics

Follow these steps to thoughtfully create a rubric:
  1. Review the Learning Objectives. Identify what you want students to do or accomplish as the learning outcomes.
  2. List Performance Criteria. Develop a list of criteria that reflect the learning objectives and that describe the tasks, behaviors, or elements that students are expected to demonstrate in their product or performance.
  3. Describe Levels of Quality for Each Criterion. Describe the best and worst levels of quality for each criterion, and then fill in the middle levels to complete the range of performance levels. The differences between each of the levels should be clear.
  4. Add a Descriptor or Numerical Score to Each Performance Level. Use a descriptive word to identify each performance level, such as “beginning, developing, accomplished, exemplary,” etc. If you want to score the student’s work, add a number or rating to each level.
Remember to use student-centered language so the rubric can be easily understood and applied by students. When working in Canvas, it’s helpful to get the wording of your rubric perfected in a Word document first, then copy and paste the text into the Canvas rubric tool, line-by-line. You can use this blank Rubric Design Outline.docx to design your text in a way that is easier to transfer. In addition, you can view this sample Discussion Rubric Examples.docx for ideas of how a rubric might look.

Using Rubrics

A well-written rubric is only helpful if it’s effectively used within the course. Sharing your rubric with students and faculty is an important step as well as thoughtfully using the rubric to grade student work and analyzing the results of their performance. Effectively using a rubric includes the following:
  • Share with Students. Before students begin an assigned activity that will be assessed, share the rubric with them to clarify what is expected in their work. Consider involving students in developing the rubric.
  • Assess Student Work. Use the rubric to guide you in assessing how well students performed (their level of mastery) in doing the learning activity or assignment.
  • Collaborate with Other Faculty. Share your rubric with other faculty members to receive peer feedback or develop shared expectations and grading practices. 
  • Inform Instruction. Rubrics provide feedback on student performance that is useful not only for the student but also to inform instructional decisions. Since the criteria are broken up into categories, you can quickly see areas of strengths and weaknesses where you might need to focus on instruction in the future.

Additional Resources

Rubrics in Canvas

Incorporating rubrics into your Canvas course can save you significant amounts of time. Students have access to the rubric when they look at an assignment and that same rubric also displays in Speedgrader. For help incorporating rubrics in your Canvas course, see these helpful Canvas Guides:

REV EZ 08/23/21