What is a Rubric?

A rubric is:

  • An assessment tool that is used to illustrate expectations for an assignment.
  • Divided into sections that provide clear and concise descriptions of the characteristics of the work/performance expectation associated with each section at varying levels of mastery.
  • Used to assess a variety of assignments (ie. papers, projects, etc.) or performance based work (ie. oral presentations, group projects, etc.).
  • Used as a guide to grade assignments or performances; or to provide formative feedback to guide ongoing learning

Caution: Rubrics aren’t a solution for all assignments. Come to the CTL and discuss with a Learning Designer whether or not a rubric would be suitable for your assignment.

Why would I use one?

By creating a rubric, you are:

  • Creating a set of standards that will be used to keep grading objective, honest, and focused on what you explained the assignment to be about.
  • Providing guidance for your students since they will understand the expectations of the assignment and can monitor their work as they complete it.
  • Clarifying the learning that should result from completing the assignment so the teacher and student are on the same page.


Pros and Cons of using Rubrics

Adapted from Faculty Focus

Pros Cons
  • Rubrics help instructors clarify expectations and focus instruction.
  • Rubrics helps students understand the goal of an assignment, which means less time trying to figure out what the instructor wants.
  • Rubrics enable instructors to “provide individualized, constructive critique in a manageable time frame.” (p. 31)
  • Students can help instructors create rubrics and in the process learn about standards and associated quality issues.
  • Rubrics can let instructors assign more challenging work.
  • Rubrics keep instructors fair and unbiased in their grading.
  • Rubrics are not entirely self-explanatory. Students, especially those unfamiliar with rubrics, need help understanding what they are and how they can be used.
  • Designing a rubric can be tricky. If they’re too detailed, they can be read as a checklist by students, resulting in students not seeing the scope of the assignment accurately. However, if they’re not detailed enough, an assignment that is an ‘F’ still may pass since it technically ‘ticks off all the boxes’ of the rubric.
  • Rubrics don’t replace good teaching. Students still need models, feedback, the chance to ask questions, opportunities to revise, and everything else instructors provide that rubrics don’t.
  • Rubrics should not be used when the expectation is that the students have fully integrated a skill, knowledge, or behaviour/attitude. There is no longer a need to inform the student of this category or criteria in the rubric.
  • Rubrics don’t automatically improve self- and peer assessment. Students still need to be convinced that their feedback and the feedback they receive from others can expedite improvement.
  • Rubrics aren’t just scoring tools. “Rubrics used only to assign final grades represent not only a missed opportunity to teach but also a regrettable instance of the teacher-as-sole-judge-of-quality model that puts our students in a position of mindlessness and powerlessness.” (p. 29)


Best Practices for using a Rubric

“I think rubrics have value if teachers use them to get students past what the teacher wants to what criteria make papers, projects, and performances excellent.”
-Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Having students involved in the process of learning enriches their experience. Involve your students in the process of assessment using the examples provided below:

  • Provide Students with the Rubric Early: Providing students with the rubric before they begin the assignment provides them with direction and understanding as to what constitutes as an excellent assignment. This way, they can apply that criteria when completing their assignment in order to gain the most from the assignment.
  • Utilize Peer Assessment: Rubrics can be utilized to have your students assess a peer’s work using the rubric and offer constructive criticism. This provides the students with an opportunity to reflect on their own assignment through evaluating the assignment of another student. Also, they will receive constructive criticism for their own work from a peer and can apply that feedback to improve their own work.
  • Develop a Rubric as a Class: Developing a rubric with your class is a way to gain input and insight into how the students believe this assignment should be graded. This way, students will leave class with a greater understanding of what is expected of them for this assignment. Keep in mind, the final decisions of the rubric criteria are up to you based on your professional judgement.
  • Show students exemplars of different mastery levels within the rubric: Provide students with exemplars of project work completed at different levels of mastery within the rubric that is being used for their assignment. This way, they can associate those different levels of mastery with a visual and can apply that knowledge to their own assignment.


Examples of Rubrics


Creating a Rubric in Blackboard

Rubrics can be created in Blackboard and linked to assignments:



Eberly Center Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation. (2015). Grading and Performance Rubrics. Retrieved July 24, 2016 from

Weimer, M. (2015). Exploring the Advantages of Rubrics. Retrieved July 24, 2016 from

Weimer, M. (2010). Pros and Cons of Rubrics. Retrieved July 3, 2016 from

Weimer, M. (2010). Rubrics: The Essentials. Retrieved July 24, 2016 from

Weimer, M. (2013). Should You Be Using Rubrics? Retrieved July 11, 2016 from