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Creating Rubrics



Analytic Rubrics

An analytic rubric resembles a grid or matrix in which the criteria representing the essential learning being assessed is organized in the leftmost column and the levels of achievement are represented in the top row.

Analytic rubrics can be created in Excel (and information can easily be aggregated and numerically summarized), with Word's table function, or even just sketched out on a pad of paper. Additionally there are several free (though generally registration is required) on-line generators for rubric creation including iRubric and Rubistar. Regardless of the medium used for creating a rubric the steps are the same.

The following steps illustrate how an analytical rubric is created.

  1. Determine the various skills and abilities that students should demonstrate to show achievement of the learning outcome(s). These skills and abilities are the various criteria. Each criterion should focus on a different skill identified by a phrase or brief statement, and each criterion should be measureable through the examination of student work. The criteria become the leftmost column of the grid.

    Example

    Clarity

    (Thesis supported by relevant information and ideas.)

    Organization

    (Sequencing of elements/ideas)

    Mechanics

    (Correctness of grammar and spelling)



  2. The next step is to determine the levels of achievement possible given the expectations of what students are to be able to demonstrate. The levels can be numerical categories but more frequently are descriptions, sometimes with an associated number. It is at this stage that the number of columns is determined and the levels of achievement are listed across the top row. Common examples of achievement levels include:

    • Numbers from 1 to 4 through 6.
    • Short Descriptions:
      • Unacceptable...Marginal...Proficient...Distinguished
      • Beginning...Developing...Competent...Exemplary
      • Novice...Intermediate...Proficient...Distinguished...Master
      • Needs Improvement...Satisfactory...Good...Accomplished
      • Poor...Minimal...Sufficient...Above Average...Excellent
      • Unacceptable...Emerging...Minimally Acceptable...Acceptable...Accomplished...Exemplary

    Example

    Needs Improve- ment (1)     Developing (2) Sufficient   (3) Above Average     (4)

    While one can easily imagine how letter grades could be assigned to each of the columns this is rarely done when assessing learning outcomes as grades are often seen as summative measures and assessment in this context is formative and intended to identify students strengths and weakness-however one can clearly see that the two are not mutually exclusive.

    When numerical scores are associated with the levels of accomplishment they can be aggregated and averages and percentages can be calculated to describe the degree to which students in a program are able to demonstrate learning outcomes.

  3. The next step in the creation of an analytic rubric is to create descriptions for the criteria along each level of achievement. While sometimes this step is skipped, this is not recommended as the descriptions are valuable for helping to increase reliability among multiple raters and even for a single rater as s/he assesses the work of different students.

    One way to begin writing the descriptions is to write a short paragraph or even just a sentence or two for the highest level of ability of one criteria. Next circle the words that can indicate various levels of performance. These are the words that will be changed as you write descriptions for the remaining levels of performance.


    Following are concepts that convey various levels of performance:
    • Presence to absence
    • Complete to incomplete
    • Many to some to none
    • Major to minor
    • Consistent to inconsistent
    • Frequency: always to usually to sometimes to rarely

    Example

      Needs Improve- ment (1)  Develop-
    ing (2)
    Sufficient (3) Above Average (4)
    Clarity (Thesis supported by relevant information and ideas.) The purpose of the student work is not well-defined. Central ideas are not focused to support the thesis. Thoughts appear disconnected. The central purpose of the student work is identified. Ideas are generally focused in a way that supports the thesis. The central purpose of the student work is clear and ideas are almost always focused in a way that supports the thesis. Relevant details illustrate the author’s ideas. The central purpose of the student work is clear and supporting ideas always are always well-focused. Details are relevant, enrich the work.
    Organization (Sequencing of elements/ideas) Information and ideas are poorly sequenced (the author jumps around). The audience has difficulty following the thread of thought. Information and ideas are presented in an order that the audience can follow with minimum difficulty. Information and ideas are presented in a logical sequence which is followed by the reader with little or no difficulty. Information and ideas are presented in a logical sequence which flows naturally and is engaging to the audience.
    Mechanics (Correctness of grammar and spelling) There are five or more misspellings and/or systematic grammatical errors per page or 8 or more in the entire document. The readability of the work is seriously hampered by errors. There are no more than four misspellings and/or systematic grammatical errors per page or six or more in the entire document. Errors distract from the work. There are no more than three misspellings and/or grammatical errors per page and no more than five in the entire document. The readability of the work is minimally interrupted by errors. There are no more than two misspelled words or grammatical errors in the document.

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Holistic Rubrics

When using a holistic rubric the assessor judges the level of performance across all criteria together, instead of separately as is done with an analytic rubric. The steps for creating a holistic rubric are similar to that of the analytical, but do not describe each criteria and level of achievement separately as the scorer will be selecting one holistic score for the entire assignment rather than separate scores for each criterion. In general holistic rubrics are considered faster to create and implement, however, they do not facilitate analysis and feedback in the same way as analytical rubrics.

  1. Determine all the skills and abilities students need to demonstrate in order to achieve the learning outcome.
    • Clarity, organization, and grammar.

  2. Determine the appropriate levels of accomplishment.
    • Needs improvement, developing, sufficient, and above average.

  3. Write an overall description of how a student would demonstrate the learning outcome for each level of accomplishment. When creating a holistic rubric this step cannot be skipped.

    Example

    • Above average: The audience is able to easily identify the focus of the work and is engaged by its clear focus and relevant details. Information is presented logically and naturally. There are no more than two mechanical errors or misspelled words to distract the reader.
    • Sufficient: The audience is easily able to identify the focus of the student work which is supported by relevant ideas and supporting details. Information is presented in a logical easy to follow manner. There is minimal interruption to the work due to misspellings and/or mechanical errors.
    • Developing: The audience can identify the central purpose of the student work without difficulty and supporting ideas are present and clear. The information is presented in an orderly fashion that can be followed with little difficulty. There are some misspellings and/or mechanical errors, but they do not seriously distract from the work.
    • Needs Improvement: The audience cannot clearly or easily identify the central ideas or purpose of the student work. Information is presented in a disorganized fashion causing the audience to have difficulty following the author’s ideas. There are many misspellings and/or mechanical errors that negatively affect the audience's ability to read the work.


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