Using Rubrics, Nov 2014

Rubrics are all the rage these days.  They are versatile enough to use in a variety of ways:

  • to articulate the essential parts of major assignments
  • as a checklist in evaluation
  • as a grading tool
  • to provide a formative assessment of a draft

Tom Deans of the University Writing Center suggests that the best rubrics are often those that focus on just a few learning outcomes and that are customized to a particular assignment.  He notes that rubrics come with costs as well as benefits, especially when teachers apply them mechanically. Try rubrics, but also try responding holistically as one reader speaking to one writer, as you might during office hours or an individual conference. Compare those approaches, attending to what is gained and lost in each approach.

See Faculty Focus: Rubrics for guidance on when and how to best use rubrics in teaching.

The links below offer sample rubrics: 

Note that they were intended for specific assignments (with a few for very large, semester-long projects); for most assignments, this type of rubric would be too elaborate.

If you would like help designing and using rubrics, contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning at