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Instruction and Course Design

Rubrics are assessment tools listing specific criteria used to determine the performance level of student work and guide instructor feedback. The use of rubrics is recommended whenever possible to provide students with clear and consistent expectations as well as to support the evaluation of the effectiveness of learning activities. 

Benefits of rubrics

Rubrics provide students with clearly articulated grading standards and expectations, which allows them to identify what is expected of them in order to achieve their desired outcome. In addition, students are presented with the opportunity to use rubrics to self-assess their own work and review for improvements.

Rubrics act as a guide for helping instructors create a consistent grading experience in their courses with opportunities for informative and focused feedback. Instructors may also use rubrics as an evaluation tool when reviewing a course or assessment for effectiveness or success in objectives.

At the university level, rubrics are a key factor in supporting the assessment of learning outcomes success. Rubric data contributes to the assessment of course, program, and university-level outcomes and can help lead to improvement and ensure the effectiveness of university efforts.

Best practices

  • Use common rubrics across your course(s)
  • Rubrics are available to students 
  • Consistent and student-centric language
  • Specific and descriptive language
  • Performance scale between 3-5 levels 
  • Performance levels progress in a clear and logical order

Types of rubrics


Analytic, sometimes referred to as descriptive rubrics, are structured with multiple criteria, which allows for a more detailed assessment of a student's performance. Each criterion is scored (or weighted) individually and can also be totaled for an overall performance value. 


  • Allows for weighted assessment
  • Provides instructors with the opportunity to give students focused feedback in regard to the various criteria for improvement
  • If not well-defined, instructors can interpret achievement levels differently, creating inconsistent grading experiences
  • Can be time-consuming to create


Holistic rubrics are structured with a single criterion to assess the overall performance level a student has achieved on a given activity. A single score or percentage is awarded using the defined criterion and established achievement levels. 

  • Streamlines the assessment process by containing evaluation criteria within a single scale
  • Focuses on what students have completed instead of highlighting where they are lacking, creating a positive and student-centric assessment experience
  • Easily used amongst instructors in different course sections for consistent assessment
  • Does not allow for weighted assessment
  • Does not provide instructors with the opportunity to give students focused feedback for improvement
  • Student work may apply to multiple levels of criteria, making scoring difficult

Examples and templates

The Curriculum & Instruction Center has created a collection of analytic rubric templates. These rubrics can be used as is and entered into the LMS, or they can be used as a starting point and modified for specific course/program use. 

Analytic Example: Simple Discussion Rubric

Criteria Excellent (75-100%) Satisfactory (50-75%) Developing (25-50%) Beginning (0-25%)



Addresses all discussion questions and directions in depth. Addresses all discussion questions and directions. Addresses some of the discussion questions. Does not address discussion questions.

Communication of Ideas


Ideas are communicated eloquently and thoroughly. Specific examples/resources are provided to support ideas and opinions. Ideas are communicated clearly and completely. Some examples/resources are provided to support ideas and opinions. Ideas are communicated, but there is no evidence to support ideas, opinions and conclusions. Does not communicate an idea.

Interaction with Peers


Points from other participants clearly built upon and/or refuted. Promotes interaction, asks provocative questions and deepens the discussion. Point from at least one participant is built upon and/or refuted. Effort to keep discussion flowing is demonstrated. Adequate feedback is provided on other's ideas. Replies to others but with no specific feedback. Repetition of points made by others.



No spelling or grammar errors. Writing is clear and concise. All posts are made on a timely basis. Less than two spelling or grammar errors. All posts are made on a timely basis. Less than 5 spelling or grammar errors. AND/OR Some posts are made on a timely basis. Multiple spelling and grammar errors. And/Or Late posts or replies.

Holistic Example: Peer Review Completion Rubric

Criteria 10 points 7.5 points 5 points 0 points

Student peer review completion

Student has completed all required three peer reviews. Student has completed two peer reviews. Student has completed one peer review. Student has completed no peer reviews.