What do you already know about assessment rubrics? You likely have heard about their usefulness in ensuring fairness and clarity in grading, and maybe you already use them for at least one of your assignments in Blackboard. Perhaps you find creating a rubric for a particular assignment rather daunting, and wonder if it is really even worth the effort to create one? Or maybe you have used one in grading, but discovered it did not really capture the qualities in student performance that were a priority, and so ended up dithering over the right score and wasting precious time, rather than saving it?

Sherry Deckman

View the recording Using Rubrics for More Effective and Efficient Grading webinar co-hosted by Sherry Deckman, Assistant Professor, Middle and High School Education.

Using Rubrics for More Effective and Efficient Grading - The Why? -  by Susan Ko - Faculty Development Consultant, Office of Online Education

Using Rubrics for More Effective and Efficient Grading - The How? by Naliza Sadik - Educational Technologist | Instructional Designer, Office of Online Education

Using Rubrics for More Effective and Efficient Grading - Faculty Experience - by Sherry Deckman, Assistant Professor in Middle and High School Education in the School of Education

You can also view thewebinar presentation slides and read the overview of the webinar below - prepared by Susan Ko, Faculty Development Consultant, Office of Online Education.

Rubrics are scoring guides that describe the specific criteria that will be used to evaluate student artifacts. The most useful types contain performance levels to indicate the quality of work done, with each level described in a manner to contrast it with performance at other levels. (Office of Assessment, Lehman College)


  • Provide clear criteria and standards of achievement to students
  • Manage expectations and guide student work, leading to greater responsiveness to all aspects of an assignment
  • Allow for more consistent and objective evaluation of student work
  • Save time in the grading process, providing some ready-made feedback
  • Rubrics can be used in conjunction with other types of feedback to provide better guidance to your students on their learning progress while saving you time and effort. To allow students to use rubrics to guide their work, it is important to always post rubrics at the beginning of a course or whenever you first introduce the assignment.

Most rubrics appear as a grid or table, with the grading criteria running down on the left hand side and the levels of performance along the top. The most commonly used type of rubric is called the “analytic rubric,” but we will also refer in the webinar to “holistic” or “checklist” types of rubrics.

In creating your rubric, start with what you want students to accomplish in an assignment or assessment, revisiting your course or unit learning objectives as needed. Then think about how you will know or recognize that they have accomplished those objectives, and identify the component parts of the expected work product. It is important that these all match up to your instructions for the assignment. If in creating your rubric you realize that your instructions are lacking sufficient detail, you can go back and revise those.

The levels of performance and their descriptors (e.g., exemplary, good, adequate, poor) should not be too few or too many--generally three to five different levels is best. In trying to establish your performance levels, it is sometimes easiest to establish the highest and lowest first, working from both ends toward the middle.

Be sure to:

Have a sufficient number of distinct criteria and levels so that indicators of each performance can be distinguished and graded apart from each other. For example, don’t mix a criterion such as “correct grammar and spelling” with one indicating the student’s work “provides evidence to support opinions.”

Use parallel language for the scale of levels. For example, “clear; somewhat clear; unclear,” rather than “clear,” “somewhat confused,” “completely obscure.”

You can combine rubrics with individual feedback. You might want to create a “feedback bank” or store of phrases in Word that you can copy and paste for some of the individual feedback if you know that there are common issues that often arise with a particular assignment. In Turnitin you can save these as “Quick Marks.” In Blackboard and Turnitin, there are options for adding both text or audio feedback for individual comments.

The test of a good rubric is in using it! Once you have tried grading with a rubric, do re-calibrate if you find it is too difficult to choose between different performance levels, or you discover that important tasks or parts of the assignment are not sufficiently covered.

Rubrics can easily be created in Blackboard from within the course tools area. A basic rubric template is launched and you can add criteria on the left hand side of your rubric table, and add levels of achievements across the top, creating the titles and then adding descriptive language for each element.

After “associating” your rubric with an assessment (which can be an assignment, a discussion board, an essay test, etc.), you are ready to grade student work using the rubric which becomes part of your grading panel for that assignment in the Grade Center. Students can then easily view your feedback and details on what they need to improve for each rubric criterion.

In Turnitin, you can similarly launch a form to create a rubric from any assignment you have made in Turnitin, and later use the rubric panel to grade student work in the feedback studio. As in Blackboard, there is a text box and audio tool to add any additional individual feedback.

In both Blackboard and Turnitin, you can easily reuse or even share rubrics through the import and export rubric tools.

Our faculty co-host, Sherry Deckman uses rubrics in her classes in teacher education, and models this for her students, encouraging them to use these in turn in their own teaching. Dr. Deckman noted that she views rubrics as providing students with targeted feedback to improve, or to pinpoint and show students where their strengths lie. When integrated into Blackboard, she acknowledged it enables greater efficiency in the grading process.

Dr. Deckman showed an example of a major assignment in her global history class, she hands out the rubric when she provides the assignment guidelines, following the principle of “beginning with the end in mind.” In another type of assignment, to encourage student self-assessment of a paper, she uses a revised type of analytic rubric, asking them to score their own performance first before she provides her feedback. Dr. Deckman provided examples of other types of rubrics, showing a holistic rubric which combined all criteria descriptors for a particular score, as well as a checklist rubric, commonly used for rapid scoring. In a checklist rubric, the determination to be made is simply whether or not the students did the particular task. Some examples from her rubric were such items as  “Did you give an introductory explanation?” or “Did you give 2-3 examples?”.

Dr. Deckman showed how some of the rubrics she gave students in Word appeared once they had been integrated into Blackboard. She demonstrated how she could add some individual comments to the rubric scores for students. She also noted that if in some cases the rubric failed to capture a particular aspect of the performance, that the flexibility built in, allows the instructor to adjust the automatic rubric score if needed.

Lehman’s Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment

Turnitin Latest QuickMark Sets - A QuickMark is the Turnitin term for 'reusable comments', allowing instructors to use the same mark across their classes and assignments, without the need to recreate it.

Turnitin Rubric Scorecards - Learn more about the adding rubric in the grading tools side panel in the feedback studio.

Turnitin Voice Comments - Tired of typing? Explore the Audio Comments!

Turnitin Feedback Studio - Learn how to grade student work in Turnitin

Turnitin: Export and Import Rubrics - You can easily reuse your rubrics by exporting and importing rubrics.

Blackboard: Creating and Associating a Rubric - Learn how to create rubrics in Blackboard.

Blackboard: Export and Import Rubrics - How to reuse and share rubrics in Blackboard.