A rubric is a powerful measurement and communication tool that displays the intellectual framework of an assignment. Rubrics help instructors make their expectations for students’ learning and achievement transparent. Rubrics help instructors share feedback more easily and grade more consistently. Rubrics used for peer- and self-review can help students cultivate metacognition and improved learning.
A rubric is an intentional framework for an assignment that:
- Defines the criteria you require.
- Identifies the levels of achievement.
- Describes what the criteria look like at each level.
- Assigns values to clarify the weight of each criteria.
For more information on rubrics:
- Browse this webpage,
- View this comprehensive PowerPoint presentation,
- View a screencast of an FDC workshop on rubrics, or
- View presentations from colleagues presented at the FDC session in September 2019.
Why Use a Rubric?
Rubrics save time because instructors have already detailed the criteria for each assignment–they anticipate the feedback for each level of learning and provide it to students in advance. They have added pedagogical benefits.
Rubrics help instructors:
- Grade more efficiently and consistently.
- Cultivate students’ metacognitive skills.
- Gather useful direct data about student learning.
- Improve student learning.
Rubrics help students:
- Apply teachers’ expectations to work.
- Critique their own work more effectively.
- Learn while reviewing peers’ papers.
- Improve their learning.
Types of Rubrics
There are many types of rubrics including: atomistic/checklist, rating scale, specs grading, holistic, descriptive/analytical, dual-entry, and student response. The most common rubrics are described below in order from the best to have/easiest to use to the easiest to make with examples. For information about the other types of rubrics, please see this comprehensive PowerPoint presentation, or view a screencast of an FDC workshop on rubrics.
A descriptive/analytic rubric combines elements of both the holistic and atomistic rubrics. Instructors create descriptions for each achievement level of each criterion. It is the gold standard and the most common kind of rubric currently used. It provides students with extensive feedback, leaves less room for argument, and is easier for instructor to arrive at a grade. While it is more labor-intensive to set up, it is the easiest to use and grade once the initial work is complete. These rubrics can be easily set up in Blackboard, so you can integrate assessment and grading.
Sample Descriptive/Analytic Rubrics:
- Computer Code Example: PDF or Word
- Psychology APA rubric
- AACU VALUE rubrics
- Participation Rubric with Details from the Eberly Center. This Scholarly Teacher article synthesizes the reasons for using a participation rubric.
An atomistic/checklist rubric assesses individual parts of an assignment and adds points together to arrive at a total grade. It is commonly used for grading participation and oral presentations. It is content-focused and useful for clear distinctions between right and wrong. However, it does not offer detailed definitions for each criteria at each level like the descriptive rubric, so it can require additional feedback clarifications, which students can use to argue about a grade.
A holistic rubric assesses an assignment as a whole. It is quick and efficient to create and grade and provides a description of grades. However, it does not give students much targeted feedback. This requires the instructor to supplement or quantify the feedback provided on the rubric to provide more robust feedback, which can increase grading time.
Using Rubrics in Blackboard
Blackboard’s rubrics tool can help you create and share rubrics to integrate feedback, grading, and assessment. Once these rubrics are created in Blackboard, they can be exported and used in course after course. Plus with a little guidance you can use rubrics to guide self and peer review: this can help you to activate your students’ metacognitive skills and encourage them to internalize the benefits of iterative writing and thinking. All rubrics that are created in Blackboard can be used with standard Bb assignments and SafeAssignments. See this DoIT resource and FDC resource for a detailed step-by-step guide on setting up rubrics in Blackboard original or Ultra.
At the FDC request, some of the key VALUE rubrics are automatically in Blackboard course shells. As you consider rubrics in your courses, please do not hesitate to reach out to the FDC to schedule a consultation to help you work to develop rubrics for your courses and programs.
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