Rubrics: Transparent Assessment in Support of Learning
A Workshop by Kenneth Ronkowitz

Rubrics provide a powerful tool for grading and assessment that can also serve as a transparent and inspiring guide to learning. Rubrics have been used to increase transparency and accountability across K-12 and higher education, and in corporate and government settings.

Rubrics are a printed set of scoring guidelines (criteria) for evaluating work (a performance or a product) and for giving feedback. Generally, they are put in the form of a chart with an x and y axis of performance criteria and a evaluative range or scale.

There are a number of ways to categorize rubrics. One simple distinction is the holistic versus analytic rubric. A holistic rubric has one global, holistic rating for a behavior. This differs from an analytic rubric which has separate, holistic ratings of specified characteristics of a behavior.

Another distiction is rubrics used for scoring (grading) versus those used t evaluate for the purpose of revisiting and improvement.

Workshop Segments

1. Introduction to Rubrics - What is a rubric and why would you want to use one?
In simple terms, a rubric shows how learners will be assessed and/or graded. In formal terms, taken from the glossary of Understanding Educational Measurement by Peter Mc Daniel (1994), " A scoring rubric is a set of ordered categories to which a given piece of work can be compared. Scoring rubrics specify the qualities or processes that must be exhibited in order for a performance to be assigned a particular evaluative rating.

Rubrics are often used when groups are scoring responses in order to provide consistency in the assessment - examples: the high school AP essay test responses, placement tests for freshman, qualifying performances for admission to programs etc.

2. Types of Rubrics

3. STEPS for CREATING your own rubric

Rubric development guidelines

What are the different reasons for using rubrics?

A 2014 presentation of mine to introduce rubric use, including using the Moodle LMS rubrice tool for grading.
Download a handout on using the Moodle rubric tool.

videoSome learning management systems, such as Blackboard and Moodle, have rubric tools. These videos explain how to work with rubrics for scoring/grading within Moodle.


ABET Scoring Rubrics for Program Outcomes from the University of Delaware, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Here's an example of how a very simple rubric might be used to do open-ended assessments in mathematics - this site shows how a rubric can be used to score student responses rubrics and includes sample responses.

Rubrics for assessment from the University of Wisconsin - Stout

A rubric for evaluating academic Twitter use

Bridge Building - task specific

NJEDge.Net Best Practices Proposals Evaluation - task specific

ETS Writing Rubric - specific to a particular writing task but adaptable to other writing - not using the typical table format

Evaluation of a Research Paper - though this long (3 page) rubric includes a scoring element for adherence to APA style, it is a general rubric that could be used with minor modifications for most research paper writing assignments.

Two general math rubrics: the first for Math Proofs and a second for Math Problem Solving (University of Chicago)

Evaluating an Online Course - this very detailed rubric from USC at Chi co, is used to evaluate 6 features of an online course - each feature is on its own rubric page.
Compare it with an equally elaborate rubric that was used to evaluate an online course by WebCT (now Blackboard) to judge exemplary online courses in a competition. As is often the case, these task specific rubrics could easily be adapted for use in evaluating any online course by changing the specific cell descriptors.

Assessing a Meeting - an interesting example both in structure and intent (Word document)

This is general template for a typical rubric that simply shows how rubrics frequently contain a number of performance objectives that are evaluated over a range of competencies.


Since a Google search on "rubric" produced almost 5 million hits, there is no shortage of sites for you to explore.
Here are a few recommended links:

Guidelines for Rubric Development from San Diego State University's College of Education

Wikipedia has a good page on the academic use of rubrics and another page on the history of rubrics.

Grading with Rubrics: Developing a Fair and Efficient Assessment Tool by Deandra Little, Teaching Resource Center at U of Virginia

A rubric for evaluating a syllabus from

Developed for the scoring of essays written for the Regents' Testing Program in the University System of Georgia, this Essay Scoring Manual has a rubric for scoring and many useful references for assessment.

RubiStar is one online tool to help the teacher (at all grade levels) who wants to use rubrics but does not have the time or experience to develop them from scratch. Start with the tutorial (it includes information on changing categories, their headings and content). Register (it's free) so that you can save and edit what you create on the site.


I would suggest that teachers in higher education look at these sites too. Your students are using rubrics in their classes and may have expectations for their inclusion in collge courses too. Many of theese rubrics can be used as templates for your own college-level rubrics.

California schools have adopted rubrics as one way to standardize the assessment of students and curriculum - examples from different disciplines and rubrics used for California content standards assessment

Kathy Schrock's website includes many types of rubric links in different subject areas.

Rubric for a language arts class on the sonnet by Leon Alirangues.



Ken Ronkowitz at NJIT