Build an effective rubric

Before building a rubric, you must understand what aspects make it appropriate and effective at evaluating student learning.

What makes a rubric effective?

Building an effective rubric

Once you have considered the issues above, you are ready to build a rubric.  Follow these steps:

Identify the most relevant criteria to evaluate

  • Make sure they align with the outcomes, the task itself, and the weighting of the task. (Ten criteria for a 5% task is probably over the top!)

Determine appropriate weightings for each criterion

  • Where possible set total weighting for the task to be out of 100. It’s easier for everyone.

Organise the criteria logically

  • Consider listing the process requirements for undertaking the assessment together first before the requirements of the final product or outcome.

Identify observable sub-criteria for each main criterion

  • Develop sub-criteria consistently across the standards  (e.g. credibility, relevance and currency might be sub-criteria relating to a criterion concerned with locating appropriate literature).

Check for double-handling

  • Don’t count, or deduct for, the same thing more than once in the rubric.

Define the standards for each grade level for each criterion

  • Identify what observable measures of performance you need to see for each criterion at each grade level, e.g. what would a High Distinction (HD) performance look like? What do you need to see in order to give a Pass (P)? (Tip: Start with HD, then develop standards for N, P, C and D in that order).

Benchmark your rubric against realistic expectations.

  • Are the standards for each level achievable and appropriate?

Seek review of the rubric before releasing it

  • Get other perspectives: ask others (inside your unit and beyond) to look over your draft to check for alignment, ambiguity and arithmetic (does it all add up?); ask a student or ask a learning adviser who works with students to review it

Check that deductions (e.g. for late submission, word count etc.) are handled separately, and not within the body of the rubric

  • Remove any yes/no answers from within the rubric (e.g. Was the task over or under the word count? Was it late or on time? These should go in a separate Deductions panel on the rubric.)

Provide space and prompts for feed-forward

  • Include  prompts and spaces for feed-forward information: remind markers to identify something done well, and something to work on for the future. Also include  referral information to key services such as learning advisers or librarians.

Create different marker and student versions

  • Prepare a marker version by adding the relevant range of marks to each standard box. The student version does not need this information.

Build consistent understanding among stakeholders, including students 

  • Share the rubric with your students and provide an opportunity for them to ask questions about it before they start the related assessment task.

This content is unpacked further in the Building assessment rubrics - Moodle site. Examples of rubrics can be found here.