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What is a rubric?

A rubric is an assessment tool that clearly articulates expectations of an assignment. It lists the dimensions or components of the assignment and describes the specific criteria that an instructor will consider when evaluating student work. It differs from a simple checklist because it describes the gradations or levels of quality for each dimension. Some rubrics also assign a point value for each level and different weighting for each dimension.

Rubrics can be used as formative assessment tools that help students assess and improve their own work and as summative assessment tools that help instructors evaluate student achievement for a grade. Depending on the type of assignment and the goal of the assessment (formative vs. summative), instructors may choose to use a holistic, analytic or single-point rubric.

Here are a few examples:
1. analytic rubric for a writing assignment
2. analytic rubric for participation

More sample rubrics and templates can be found at the bottom of this page.

Why use rubrics?

Rubrics are used when assessing student work that is creative and lacks one specific answer (e.g., papers, presentations, discussions, portfolios, projects). Developing and using rubrics helps instructors:

  • identify and articulate to students the specific learning goals of each assignment
  • assess assignments consistently from student-to-student
  • save time when marking as descriptions associated with particular scores are already written out
  • identify areas in which students need more support and practice by evaluating aggregate rubric results

How can rubrics be used to improve student learning?

When we hand out rubrics with our assignments and explain how they will be used to evaluate student work, students can use them as guides when planning and completing their assignments. This helps them know exactly what we are expecting for a particular assignment and how each component will be evaluated.

If possible, we can also ask students to work with a partner to assess 2-3 example assignments using the rubric to ensure they understand all of the descriptors. This can be done in class or for homework and then compared to your scores during the next class.

Making expectations explicit in this way, allows students to set specific goals for successfully completing an assignment and become more independent in assessing their own progress. When graded assignments are returned, students receive clear, detailed feedback on the quality of their work through the descriptors, so they know what to work on for next time.

Rubrics can also be used as formative assessment tools. For writing assignments, students can assess their first draft or peer-review a classmate’s first draft using the rubric one week before the assignment is due. For presentation assignments, 2 groups can peer-review a practice run of each other’s presentation using the rubric a couple days before the assignment is due. These types of activities help students identify strengths and areas requiring improvement before their assignments are evaluated by their instructor.

Can we help?

TCDC regularly offers workshops on creating and using rubrics. See the TCDC calendar to find upcoming workshops. If you would like one-on-one help developing a rubric for one of your assignments, contact one of the curriculum consultants at TCDC at tcdc@langara.ca.

For help using the rubric tool in Brightspace, watch this short webinar or contact an EdTech advisor at edtech@langara.ca.

Sample Rubrics

Sample rubrics shared by colleagues at Langara:

  1. Analytic rubric for Online Discussions (Recreation Studies)
  2. Holistic rubric for Online Discussion (Nutrition & Food Service)
  3. Single-point rubric for Participation (TCDC)

Carnegie Mellon University’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence has a number of sample rubrics for papers, projects, oral presentations, and class participation.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa has an excellent site on creating rubrics with numerous sample rubrics.

EdTechTeacher has a number of sample rubrics for assessing digital media assignments such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and ePortfolios.

The University of Wisconsin School of Education has posted a list of links to a variety of sample rubrics including ones for PowerPoint presentations, podcast assignments, research reports, oral presentations, and multimedia projects. Some of these examples are for K-12 classes, but they can easily be adapted.

Kathy Schrock‘s webpage Assessment and Rubrics contains links to sample rubrics for a wide variety of assignments. Many of these assignments are designed for K-12, but can be easily adapted for higher education.

Other Resources

Books & Blogs

Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback, and Promote Student Learning by Dannelle Stevens and Antonia Levi is available in the Langara Library.


The podcast Still Not Sold on Rubrics from Teaching in Higher Education discusses what rubrics are, benefits of using them, how to create them, and some online tools for saving sample rubrics and developing your own.

PD Playlist

To help anyone interested in learning more about Rubrics, TCDC has compiled this “PD Playlist” of resources relevant to this topic. We’ve arranged the resources from “sound bite” to “radio play” to “extended dance mix” and “full LP.” Some options will take just a few minutes of your time while others will require a longer commitment.  

Need assistance? TCDC can help.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash