Rubrics are tools used in assessing student work. Rubrics provide criteria for grading and outline expectations of quality around an assignment. They help you to assess student work consistently, save time in grading, clarify expectations and components of an assessment, and they can promote student learning. A good rubric should benefit both students and instructors.

Best Practices

  • 1. Alignment between Performance and Learning Outcomes

    The criteria in the rubric should be based on the learning outcomes being measured and not the assessment method chosen. For example, the learning outcome = knowledge of design principles and the assessment method = essay, but your rubric is filled with criteria focused on essay writing skills such as grammar, written expression and structure. Consider what needs to be assessed in determining your criteria. Is the learning outcome the ability to write an essay or is it about knowledge of design principles? Ask yourself these questions: what knowledge and skills is the assignment designed to assess? What criteria speak to those knowledge and skills?

  • 2. Use Simple Language
    Use simple terms with detailed descriptions. Consider using parallel language; for example, exhibits, mostly exhibits, does not exhibit. This helps students to understand differences between each performance level.
  • 3. Collaborate
    Rubrics don’t need to be created solo. Consider working with colleagues in your studio, your students, or the teaching and learning team to develop or refine the rubric.
  • 4. Involve Students

    There are several ways you can involve students in rubrics which can enhance student learning:

    • Have students create the rubrics with you or get their input on what could be improved. This will help them better engage with the assignment and understand expectations more clearly. Read about how to Co-Create Rubrics.
    • Ask students to complete the rubric with their assignment so they have the opportunity to evaluate themselves. This provides a great opportunity for students to reflect on their learning and identify areas for improvement.
    • Provide students with a sample of “proficient” work and get them to use the rubric to evaluate the work.
    • Share and discuss the rubric with students beforehand so they can become familiar with expectations and clarify anything that is unclear.
  • 5. Provide Exemplars and Models
    In addition to providing students with a rubric which describes levels of quality, why not also show them? Give them examples of the actual product you want them to produce. Don’t just show them the A+ version, also show them what a B and C product looks like too. Talk about what makes them good and not good. If you are using student work, make sure you have their permission. For more information have a look at Exemplars from Herriot Watt University.

Types of Rubrics

Rubrics come in all shapes and sizes. Have a look at the rubrics below to get some ideas for ones that might suit your needs. It’s also helpful to look at the rubrics that your fellow instructors use too.  Figuring out which rubric to use will depend on your goals:

  • If you want to score performance fairly and quickly consider using a simple grading guide.
  • If there is no single correct response and the focus is on overall quality, consider using a holistic rubric.
  • If you want to provide personalized feedback, then a single-point rubric might be a good choice.
  • If you want students to understand what constitutes quality performance before completing the assignment, consider using an analytic or visual rubric.
  • Analytic Rubrics

    An analytic rubric breaks down the task into set criteria and provides a description of the levels of quality for each criteria which can be weighted differently. For example, wall thickness could be worth 20 points and uniformity of rim could be worth 10 points.

    Excellent Proficient Developing Emerging
    Centering and Symmetry


    Bowl has perfect centering and symmetrical shape. Bowl has consistent centering and overall symmetry Bowl has some centering and symmetry issues. Bowl has significant wobbling or lacks symmetry.
    Wall Thickness Walls are uniform and consistent Walls are relatively even with slight variations Walls show inconsistency in thickness Walls are uneven and vary significantly in thickness
    Uniformity of Rim Rim is perfectly even and consistent in thickness Rim is mostly even and well-formed Rim shows some irregularities but is generally smooth Rim is uneven, lopsided, or irregular


  • Holistic Rubric

    A holistic rubric assesses the criteria all together rather than breaking the task into separate criteria.

    Excellent Proficient Developing Emerging
    Bowl has perfect centering and symmetrical shape. Wall thickness is uniform and consistent. The rim is perfectly even and consistent in thickness. Attention to detail is excellent reflecting high level of skill. Bowl has consistent centering and symmetry. Wall thickness is relatively even, with minimal variations. The rim is mostly even and well-formed. Craftmanship and attention to detail are solid, reflecting a good level of skill and care. Efforts in centering and symmetry are visible, but with some inconsistencies. Walk thickness may vary slightly. The rim may have minor irregularities. Craftmanship and attention to detail are developing, but additional practice and refinement are necessary. There are significant issues in centering and symmetry, wall thickness, rim uniformity, and overall craftsmanship. Improvement is needed in various aspects of the bowl’s creation.
  • Single Point Rubric

    A single point rubric, like an analytic rubric, breaks the task into separate criteria. However, it does not describe every level of quality like an analytic rubric. Instead, it describes the proficient level of quality only and then provides space for written comments to identify what was done exceptionally well or what requires improvement. You can assign scoring levels for quality too. For example, in the sample below, excellent might equate with A- to A+ and proficient might equate with B- to B+.

    Excellent Proficient Needs Improvement
    Centering and Symmetry


    Bowl has consistent centering and overall symmetry
    Wall Thickness Walls are relatively even with slight variations
    Uniformity of Rim Rim is mostly even and well-formed
  • Visual Rubric

    Instead of writing the different levels of quality you can use a visual rubric to show the different levels of quality. For example:

  • Grading Guide

    A grading guide, like an analytic and single-point rubric, sets out criteria for the task but does not describe what levels of quality look like. Instead, it provides a maximum score for each criteria.

    Criteria Max Points
    Centering and Symmetry /10
    Wall Thickness /10
    Uniformity of Rim /10