Teaching With Rubrics
Just as learning goals are explicit statements of what you want your students to master in your course, rubrics are explicit statements that help clarify your expectations of students on any given assessment. A rubric that is well aligned with the learning goals and assessment will give students a clear sense of what you want and, in turn, make grading easier. Complex projects may require detailed rubrics, while simple assignments may only need a one or two sentence rubric. The process of developing a clear and aligned rubric is iterative, and can even help you refine your goals and assessments.
Rubrics can be used with a variety of course work, including: writing assignments, homework assignments, class projects, short-answer or essay-type test questions, etc. Carnegie Mellon has a number of example rubrics for these different types of assessments.
Benefits and Challenges of Rubrics
Benefits of rubrics include:
- Streamlining the grading process
- Providing clear and explicit expectations for students, leading to better work
- Resulting student work reflects of the values of an assignment (where the emphasis should be placed)
Challenges with rubrics include:
- Possible mismatch between the instructor goals and student interpretation
- Students that don't read the rubric
To gain the full benefits (and avoid the common challenges), rubrics must be specific for the assignment and use language that students understand. Terms used in the rubric should be measurable (avoid terms such as imaginative, creative) and relate directly to the learning goals. Students may also benefit from examples and practice applying the rubric.
Developing a rubric: a step-by-step approach
- Identify the criteria you will be assessing
- Describe levels of proficiency for the assessment
- Fill-in the rest of the rubric
- Review and edit
Rubric Examples from published InTeGrate Modules and Courses
Below are some examples from published InTeGrate Modules. Feel free to explore and model your own rubrics on the materials below.
Map Your Hazards! Assessing Hazards, Vulnerability, and Risk
- Unit 1 Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 19kB Oct19 14)
- Unit 2 Part A Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 20kB Oct19 14)
- Unit 2 Part B Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 22kB Oct19 14)
- Unit 3 Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 23kB Oct19 14)
Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity
- Unit 5 Summative Assessment and Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 139kB Nov21 14)
Below are some links to additional resources on rubrics. Feel free to explore these for discussions on rubrics and examples we found useful.
- Carnegie Mellon's Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation has a good, succinct description of rubrics as well as a number examples you can download.
- Cornell's Center for Teaching Excellence also has some good descriptions and examples.
- Carleton College's Learning and Teaching Center has some resources on rubrics within their Quantitative Writing program.
- On The Cutting Edge has a number of geoscience examples.