Scoring Rubrics

Scoring rubrics are descriptive scoring schemes developed to assess any student performance whether it's written or oral, online or face-to-face.Scoring rubrics are especially well suited for evaluating complex tasks or assignments such as: written work (e.g., assignments, essay tests, papers, portfolios); presentations (e.g., debates, role plays); group work; or other types of work products or performances (e.g., artistic works, portfolios). Scoring rubrics are assignment-specific; criteria are different for each assignment or test. It is a way to make your criteria and standards clear to both you and your students.

Good scoring rubrics:

  • Consist of a checklist of items, each with an even number of points. For example, two-point rubrics would indicate that the student either did or did not perform the specified task. Four or more points in a rubric are common and indicate the degree to which a student performed a given task.
  • Are criterion based. That is, the rubric contains descriptive criteria for acceptable performance that are meaningful, clear, concise, unambiguous, and credible--thus ensuring inter-rater reliability.
  • Are used to assess only those behaviors that are directly observable.
  • Require a single score based on the overall quality of the work or presentation.
  • Provide a better assessment and understanding of expected or actual performance.

Rubric Template (PDF)

Sample Rubric for Quizzes and Homework (PDF)

Why Develop Scoring Rubrics?

Here are some reasons why taking the time to construct a grading rubric will be worth your time:

  • Make grading more consistent and fair.
  • Save you time in the grading process.
  • Help identify students' strengths and weaknesses so you can teach more effectively.
  • To help students understand what and how they need to improve.

Guidelines for Developing a Scoring Rubric

Step 1: Select a project/assignment for assessment.

Example: Work in small groups to write and present a collaborative research paper.

Step 2: What performance skill(s) or competency(ies) are students demonstrating through their work on this project?

Example: Ability to work as part of a team.

Step 3: List the traits you'll assess when evaluating the project--in other words, ask: "What counts in my assessment of this work?" Use nouns or noun phrases to name traits, and avoid evaluative language. Limit the number of traits to no more than seven. Each trait should represent a key teachable attribute of the overall skill you're assessing.

Example:
Content
Coherence and Organization
Creativity
Graphics and visuals
Delivery

Step 4: Decide on the number of gradations of mastery you'll establish for each trait and the language you'll use to describe those levels.

Five points of gradation:

5=Proficient 4=Clearly Competent 3=Acceptable 2=Limited 1=Attempted

Four points of gradation:

Exceptional/Excellent Admirable/Good Acceptable/Fair Amateur/Poor

Step 5: For each trait write statements that describe work at each level of mastery. If, for example, you have seven traits and five gradations, you'll have 35 descriptive statements in your rubric. Attempt to strike a balance between over-generalizations and task-specificity. For the trait "coherence and organization" in a four-point rubric:

Exceptional: Thesis is clearly stated and developed; specific examples are appropriate and clearly develop thesis; conclusion is clear; ideas flow together well; good transitions; succinct but not choppy; well-organized.
Admirable: Most information presented in logical sequence; generally very organized but better transitions between ideas is needed.
Acceptable: Concept and ideas are loosely connected; lacks clear transitions; flow and organization are choppy.
Amateur: Presentation of ideas is choppy and disjointed; doesn't flow; development of thesis is vague; no apparent logical order to writing

Step 6: Design a format for presenting the rubric to students and for scoring student work.

Step 7: Test the rubric and fine tune it based on feedback from colleagues and students.

Source: Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment, Barbara E. Walvoord, Virginia Johnson Anderson, Thomas A. Angelo (Foreword by) (1998).