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A scoring rubric is a method of classifying and categorizing identified criteria for successfully completing an assignment or task and to establish levels for meeting these criteria. Rubrics should be used to assess essay questions, projects, portfolios and presentations and given to all faculty that are conducting and scoring the assessment. A well designed rubric will describe the definitions of each characteristic being assessed and descriptions of the best, worst and unacceptable characteristics of the identified criteria.

A rubric is an authentic assessment tool used to measure students' work. It is a scoring guide that seeks to evaluate a student's performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score. A rubric is a working guide for students and teachers, usually distributed before the assignment begins in order to get students to think about the criteria on which their work will be judged. Rubrics can be analytic or holistic, and they can be created for any content area including math, science, history, writing, foreign languages, drama, art, music, etc.

The rubric is one authentic assessment tool which is designed to simulate real life activity where students are engaged in solving real-life problems. It is a formative type of assessment because it becomes an ongoing part of the whole teaching and learning process. Students themselves can be involved in the assessment process through both peer and self-assessment. As students become familiar with rubrics, they can even assist in the rubric design process. This involvement empowers the students and as a result, their learning becomes more focused and self-directed.

Three Common Features of Rubrics

Rubrics can be created in a variety of forms and levels of complexity, however, they all contain three common features which……:

  • Focus on measuring a stated objective (performance, behavior, or quality).
  • Use a range to rate performance.
  • contain specific performance characteristics arranged in levels indicating the degree to which a standard has been met

Advantage of Rubrics

Many experts believe that rubrics improve students' end products and therefore increase learning. When teachers evaluate papers or projects, they know implicitly what makes a good final product and why. When students receive rubrics beforehand, they understand how they will be evaluated and can prepare accordingly. Developing a grid and making it available as a tool for students' use will provide the scaffolding necessary to improve the quality of their work and increase their knowledge.

Rubrics offer several advantages:

  • Rubrics improve student performance by clearly showing the student how their work will be evaluated and what is expected.
  • Rubrics help students become better judges of the quality of their own work.
  • Rubrics allow assessment to be more objective and consistent.
  • Rubrics force the teacher to clarify his/her criteria in specific terms.
  • Rubrics reduce the amount of time teachers spend evaluating student work.
  • Rubrics promote student awareness about the criteria to use in assessing peer performance.
  • Rubrics provide useful feedback to the teacher regarding the effectiveness of the instruction.
  • Rubrics provide students with more informative feedback about their strengths and areas in need of improvement.
  • Rubrics accommodate heterogeneous classes by offering a range of quality levels.
  • Rubrics are easy to use and easy to explain.
  Beginning 1 Developing 2 Accomplished 3 Exemplary 4 Score
Stated Objective or Performance Description of identifiable performance characteristics reflecting a beginning level of performance. Description of identifiable performance characteristics reflecting development and movement toward mastery of performance. Description of identifiable performance characteristics reflecting mastery of performance. Description of identifiable performance characteristics reflecting the highest level of performance.  

Sample Undergraduate Research Presentation Rubric

Undergraduate research is becoming more important in higher education as evidence is accumulating that clear, inquiry-based learning, scholarship, and creative accomplishments can and do foster effective, high levels of student learning. This curricular innovation includes identifying a concrete investigative problem, carrying out the project, and sharing findings with peers. The following standards describe effective presentations.


5 - 4

3 - 2




Total Score


Has a clear opening statement that catches audience’s interest; maintains focus throughout; summarizes main points

Has opening statement relevant to topic and gives outline of speech; is mostly organized; provides adequate “road map” for the listener

Has no opening statement or has an irrelevant statement; gives listener no focus or outline of the presentation


X 2



Demonstrates substance and depth; is comprehensive; shows mastery of material

Covers topic; uses appropriate sources; is objective

Does not give adequate coverage of topic; lacks sources



X 2


Quality of conclusion

Delivers a conclusion that is well documented and persuasive

Summarizes presentation’s main points; draws conclusions based upon these points

Has missing or poor conclusion; is not tied to analysis; does not summarize points that support the conclusion



X 2



Has natural delivery; modulates voice; is articulate; projects enthusiasm, interest, and confidence; uses body language effectively

Has appropriate pace; has no distracting mannerisms; is easily understood;

Is often hard to understand; has voice that is too soft or too loud; has a pace that is too quick or too slow; demonstrates one or more distracting mannerisms



X 1.5


Use of media

Uses slides effortlessly to enhance presentation; has an effective presentation without media

Looks at slides to keep on track; uses an appropriate number of slides

Relies heavily on slides and notes; makes little eye contact; uses slides with too much text



X 1.5


Response to Questions

Demonstrates full knowledge of topic; explains and elaborates on all questions

Shows ease in answering questions but does not elaborate

Demonstrates little grasp of information; has undeveloped or unclear answers to questions



X 1



University of Wisconsin, Office of the Provost

Julian, Faye D. "The Capstone Course as an Outcomes Tests for Majors." Assessment in Practice. Banta, Trudy W., Lund, Jon P., Black, Karen E., & Oblander, Frances W., (Eds). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996. pp. 79-81.

The Use of Portoflio Assessment in Evaluation, Sewell, Marczak & Horn

The Use of Portoflio Assessment in Evaluation, Sewell, Marczak & Horn

Heidi Goodrich Andrade. "Understanding Rubrics." [Online] 22 October 2001. The Advantages of Rubrics: Part One in a Five-Part Series. [Online] 22 October 2001.

Nancy Pickett and Bernie Dodge. "Rubrics for Web Lessons." [Online] 22 October 2001.