Pedagogy in Action > Library > Assessment > How to Use Assessment Strategies > Developing Scoring Rubrics

Developing Scoring Rubrics

"Learning increases when learners have a sense of what they are setting out to learn, a statement of explicit standards they must meet and a way of seeing what they have learned." Loaker, Cromwell and O'Brien (1986) pg.47

One of the timeless verities of student psychology is that students will focus on learning material that will impact their grade. Rubrics are a way to make explicit our expectations of what students will need to know and be able to do in order to receive a given grade. Rubrics help instructors to develop clear and attainable learning objectives for their students and if provided to students prior to the activity, serve to guide their efforts.

Scoring Rubrics Focus and Promote Learning

Assessment sometimes carries a sense of the mysterious for students. They may be told to take notes in class, read the chapter and answer the questions at the end, but they may get few specifics regarding what material will be assessed, and at what depth. In contrast, rubrics given to students before the learning activity starts helps them get a clear sense of what knowledge and skills they need in order to achieve a given grade. In their book Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses, Hubba and Freed (2000) point out that Scoring rubrics usually contain the following elements:

  • Clear statements of the level of knowledge you expect the student to achieve for them to receive a given grade.
  • The dimensions of the quality of work you expect the student to achieve.
  • Commentaries describing your expectations of knowledge and quality that distinguishes each grade band (e.g. ABCDF).
Keep a few questions in mind while developing an instructional rubric.
  • What are the essential elements of high quality work?
  • How many levels of achievement are to be described?
  • Are the criteria for each level clearly described?
Diane Ebert-May's website titled Classroom Assessment Techniques-Scoring Rubrics (more info) contains detailed information regarding the development of these valuable tools. Click on the following link to see an example of using Scoring Rubrics for assessment of field-based activities in the geosciences and the resources below for other assessment ideas.