Even non-grade direct measures of student learning can be evaluated in a number of ways. But a particularly useful tool is the rubric. Rubrics are especially useful for grading complex, subjective assignments that don’t have just one “right” answer, such as papers, reports, and performances.

Elements of a Rubric

A rubric is an explicit hierarchy of achievement expectations organized along specific dimensions.

  • Vertical axis: Dimensions of student learning on the assignment
  • Horizontal axis: Scale of student performance/achievement

For each dimension, there is a description of the highest level of achievement. This represents what the student should be aiming for. In addition, there are descriptions of the lower levels of achievement for each dimension. The number of levels can vary, though three, four, or five are most common.

rubric example

Advantages of Rubrics

  • Differentiate among SLOs on an assignment
  • Facilitate consistency in evaluation by clearly defining achievement levels
  • Clarify faculty expectations to students
  • Simplify grading, possibly saving time
  • Provide detailed feedback to students

Useful websites on rubrics:

RubiStar (a free tool for creating rubrics)

Laney College

American Association of College and Universities VALUE Rubrics

Rubric Directory (Cal State Fullerton): contains lots of examples of rubrics