Rubric Design


Relevant, user-friendly benchmarks; reinforcing instruction; cultivating success is a succinct definition even though it was crafted for its properties as an acronym. The matrix of a rubric provides performance criteria (left hand column) and levels of achievement (top row) to better communicate assignment expectations and frame feedback for assessment and evaluation.

How it works

A rubric accompanies each major assignment/assessment in a course. Given the time commitment for rubric creation, they are not typically used for smaller assignments, but are saved for larger products that synthesize multiple skills and abilities. Usually, there are four levels of achievement that correspond to the four grades D, C, B, and A.

For each criterion, the educator crafts a description for each level of achievement, i.e. each cell or box of the matrix has a unique entry. The educator uses the rubric to assess and evaluate students’ work. Rather than having to write lengthy feedback/comments, the rubric speaks to areas of strength and weakness. A student easily identifies steps to move along the criteria’s continuum and to achieve a higher grade.

Overall, students receive a more comprehensive assessment of their contribution/learning and recognize the alignment of the assignment to important outcomes, skills, and abilities.

Use at Mohawk

The Rubrics tool in MyCanvas can save educators even more time! By associating your rubrics built in MyCanvas with Dropbox, Discussions and ultimately Grades, evaluation is quite seamless.

The sixteen VALUE rubrics from Association of American Colleges and Universities’ research have also been shared via MyCanvas. They cover the most popular development of skills and assignment criteria, e.g. Oral Communication, Critical Thinking, Written Communication, Information Literacy, etc. Feel free to grab an entire rubric to use or pull a criterion from a few different ones to compile your unique assessment tool.

Common missteps

Often educators get a tad too creative with their descriptions. When this happens, a student has difficulty connecting among the levels of performance and plotting improvement. Qualifiers such as:

  • rarely, sometimes, often, always
  • with many errors and/or omissions, with some errors and/or omissions, with few errors and/or omissions, virtually error-free
  • developing, progressing, meets, exceeds

are used to distinguish among the different levels of achievement. This makes progression along the continuum easier to discern.

Who can help you at Mohawk

Face-to-face workshops on creating rubrics and using the Rubrics tool in MyCanvas are common offerings by your CTL. Check out the list of CTL events or grab a group of colleagues interested in building better rubrics and book your own workshop by contacting CTL.

CTL staff are great collaborators for rubric design and building. Curriculum & Program Quality Consultants (CPQC) can assist as you tease out assignments’ important criteria and establish levels of performance. Educational Technology Specialists (ETS) can work with you to optimize the Rubrics tool in MyCanvas. Get in touch!

More information

Assessment Guide from the Library: This guide on Assessment has rubric resources (books, articles, websites, etc.) spotlighted.

Books and Resources in the Library about rubrics: Resources pulled from the Library’s catalogue may assist. If you want the latest research from journal articles, use “scoring rubrics” in a subject search to yield the most relevant results.