Rubric Creation and Use

Rubric Creation and Use

A rubric articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria, or what counts, and describing levels of quality from excellent to poor (Andrade, 2012). Rubrics can make visible to students what they might be missing in an assignment and can help them from going wrong. The creation of a very specific rubric is one way that experts can draw out their own unconscious competence.

To Create a Rubric

  1. Select the student assignment you would like to create a rubric for—be it a project, paper, lab session, or homework. This step is most effectively done with examples of student work on such an assignment, including high-, medium-, and low-level responses.
  2. List on paper 5-7 major mistakes students might make on this assignment. If you do not have examples of student work, what do you anticipate that students will get wrong on this assignment?
  3. Turn the list of mistakes into a list of positive attributes by using nouns so that the descriptor describes what you want, not a deficit. In this argument/evidence rubric for a poster in history, the argument is not “Weak and vague” but “Succinct and clear.” Use the power of the non-expert to check on the clarity of your attributes. Ask someone from outside your field if they could do what is described in each attribute. For example, “Problem Solving” may not explain clearly that the instructor means “Correlate the results of physical actions with electronic outputs and develop a system to bring a signal from one place to another.” Or, if the attribute is “Lots of Detail,” it means “Select a critical incident from your observation notes and describe it in detail.”
  4. Calibrate each attribute (Exceeds/Meets/Does Not Meet Expectations). The high, medium, and low student examples might be useful at this point for determining the different levels of work. If there are no degrees between success and failure, it is difficult to help students move toward mastery.

Using the Rubric

The instructor can use the rubric to score student work—but it may be even more useful if the students are assigned rubrics to use on their own work or on the work of their peers individually or in teams.

Students at Alverno College, for example, are asked to assess themselves on every assignment before they turn it in; they often score their own work using rubrics.

However a rubric is used, we have found the most powerful effect of a student using it comes from metacognitive reflection at the end of the process: “Now that you've evaluated X (e.g., another team's poster, your own homework, etc.), what do you see as strengths and weaknesses in your own X? What will you and your team do to improve your work on your X?” Such reflection can help students who are used to merely recalling or regurgitating information shift to a more conceptual mode of learning (Maki, 2004).

Create Rubrics in Canvas

Canvas allows instructors to create rubrics to grade assignments, discussions, and quizzes. These rubrics can include learning outcomes, among other criteria. Visit Canvas' Instructor Guide to learn how to use rubrics within Canvas.


Andrade, H. (2012) Understanding Rubrics.  Accessed Nov 15, 2016.

Maki, P. (2004). Assessing for learning: building a sustainable commitment across the institution. Stylus: Sterling, Va.

Who Is Doing This at IUB?

Prof. Leah Shopkow (History) uses rubrics to help her students provide their peers with better feedback. 

Laura Plummer (CITL Writing Program) uses this rubric in a literature course that fulfills the College's Intensive Writing requirement; she often employs this kind of rubric between first and revised drafts of papers.

For More Help or Information

Contact us to get help constructing and using a rubric.