Creating a Scoring Rubric
What is a scoring rubric?
A scoring rubric is an efficient tool that allows you to objectively measure student performance
on an assessment activity. Rubrics may vary in complexity, but generally do the following:
There are two types of scoring rubrics:
Focus on measuring very specific stated learning objectives
Use a range to rate performance
Are based on specific performance characteristics arranged in levels
indicating the degree to which a standard has been met
Either type of rubric works well for assessment, so you should feel free to use the method with which you
feel is most suited to the learning outcomes and assessment tool you are using.
Primary trait analysis (separate, holistic scoring of specified characteristics
or a product, activity or behavior); for assessment purposes, the primary traits are learning
outcomes being assessed, and separate scores are given for each trait or outcome. This is most
useful when assessing a course or program.
Holistic scoring (one global, holistic score for a product, activity or behavior);
for assessment purposes, in holistic scoring a single score is given for overall achievement of multiple
learning outcomes. This is most useful when assessing a knowledge area such as critical thinking or
When should a scoring rubric be used?
Rubrics can be used to classify and measure almost any product, activity or behavior, such as tests,
essays, reports, portfolios, projects, oral presentations, performances, or group activities. Once you have
selected or developed an assessment tool or tools, you can create a rubric to define the expectations for the
course/program/area you are assessing.
How do I develop a scoring rubric?
Once you have determined what you are assessing (a course, program, or large knowledge/skill set such as
critical thinking) and developed your assessment tool(s), you can develop your rubric. Download the
Scoring Rubric templates for details on
developing primary trait analysis and holistic scoring rubrics. The Scoring Rubric templates are in Adobe
If you do not already have Adobe Acrobat
Reader, you can download it for free from
Identify the characteristics of what you are assessing. In most cases, these will be
specific stated learning outcomes. Each rubric item will usually focus on a different skill or competency.
Keep it simple, with perhaps 5-15 items stated in brief phrases.
Describe the best work you could expect using these characteristics. This describes the
top range of your rubric.
Describe the worst acceptable product using these characteristics. This describes the
lowest acceptable range of your rubric.
Describe an unacceptable product. This describes the lowest range of your rubric.
Develop descriptions of intermediate-level products and assign them to intermediate
ranges. For example, for a primary trait rubric you might choose a range of one to five for each item
or learning outcome (for example: unacceptable, limited proficiency, proficient, good proficiency, superior
proficiency). A sample range for holistic scoring is a scale of one to four, with each range representing
a series of achieved learning objectives (for example, completes all of the objectives, completes some
of the objective, completes few of the objectives, completes none of the objectives). Alternatively,
you may choose a scale such as high pass, pass, low pass, or no pass. Select terminology that is clear,
objective, and meaningful to your assessment tool and learning outcomes.
How do I use my rubric?
There are many ways to use a rubric:
Use it to define performance on a single assessment tool such as a test or project, with
each characteristic representing a learning outcome.
Use it to define program assessment, with each characteristic representing a broad outcome
measured by a different assessment tool.
Use a scoring rubric to evaluate a test or assignment that is given in class for a grade.
Score the assignment blindly with a rubric that is different from the method you use for grading, or have
the assignment externally evaluated using a rubric. One method is to select several questions from a final,
for example, and evaluate them using a rubric in which each question represents a learning outcome to be
Have students self-assess by having them complete a scoring rubric for an assignment or activity
that is aligned with one or more learning outcomes that are to be assessed. This activity should be combined
with more direct assessment measures, but does provide useful information on students' self-perception of
their achievement of learning outcomes.
Assessment and its Importance
Find out what assessment encompasses and why it is important for our
academic institution to participate in the process.
A brief description of the Assessment Committee, as well as an archive
of meeting agendas and minutes. Go directly to the
Assessment Committee meeting minutes.
Assessment vs. Grades & Evaluation
Discover the difference between assessment and evaluation. Information
on the use of both assessment and evaluation is provided.
Course, Program, & General Education Assessment
Contains information on each of the three types of assessment that are conducted
on a regular basis at Washtenaw Community College.
The Assessment Responsibility section provides information regarding
the responsibility of each faculty member and the institution as a whole with respect to assessment.
Steps to Developing an Assessment Plan
Provides a step-by-step set of guidelines for developing an assessment plan for
an individual course or program.
Outlines information on appropriate assessment tools as well as sample assessment
Creating a Scoring Rubric
Provides a description of a scoring rubric as well as a link to a downloadable
Analyzing and Using Data
Find out what to do with your data once it has been collected.
View all sections.