Crafting Analytical Rubrics for Higher Education

Customized rubrics

Rubric-based assessments are great for a variety of reasons:

  • Provides timely and effective feedback while spending less time grading
  • Communicates expectations, encourage peer and self-assessment, and foster engagement
  • Assess levels of performance
  • Rubrics encourage critical thinking and develop higher-order thinking skills
  • Encourage fair grading with assessment criteria and reduce student disputes
  • Provide detailed feedback

However, building them from scratch can feel like a very daunting task. But we're here to help! In this blog, we've outlined the main things you should consider when rubric-making. Let's dive in!

Types of performances to assess with rubrics

Depending on your curriculum goals and different criteria using rubrics are a great tool when subjective student performance is the focus of the learning outcome [1]. Subjecting reading, analysis and writing assignments are perfect for rubric-based assessments to ascertain levels of achievement and provide specific feedback.

If an activity has an objectively correct answer, rubrics can also be used where responses can be evaluated on performance quality, problem solving skills, thought-process in addition to correctness.

Rubrics are a powerful peer review assessment tool, as they provide a structure for how students make observations. When evaluation feedback is based on rubric criteria, it reduces performance-based judgments [1]. It prevents students from learning through teaching when judgments are biased or have no reasoning [1]. This ultimately leads to less concerns or disputes from students on their own grades, as expectations are clearly communicated throughout the whole process.

How to choose the right type of rubric

The two most common types of rubric assessments are analytical rubrics, where each criterion / dimension trait is assessed separately or holistic rubrics, where different criteria are assessed simultaneously. Below is a more detailed explanation on the two types of rubrics.

The best courses for analytical rubrics are geared towards STEM education. By focusing on each criterion, instructions are clearly defined one at a time and it is easier for students to assess from. Analytical rubric assessment is a great way to gauge where improvement is needed for future years in order to track student progress [1].

Holistic rubrics have traditionally been used for activities relating to English composition. We've seen the SAT scoring the portion of the essay on a holistic rubric, making grading a subjective written activity fair and efficient. Holistic rubrics for peer review help students make global judgments on how they themselves produce work [1].

Determining the rating scale for scoring rubrics

A single score works best for holistic based rubrics to determine a general impression of a student's performance on a particular task and overall score [2].  It may not, however, provide specific areas of strengths and weaknesses to gauge where improvement is required. A holistic rating scale can be very applicable for projects which will vary greatly like independent study projects or in large quantities [2].

Components of Holistic Rating Scales

Analytic rating scales provide performance expectation for multiple criteria, having a rating scale with descriptions is necessary for students to understand the difference between one rating and another [1].

Components of Analytic Rating Scales [2]

  • Criteria that link to the relevant learning objectives
  • Rating scale that distinguishes between levels of mastery
  • Descriptions that clarify the meaning of each criterion, at each level of mastery

Be specific in the description of the knowledge or skills that you are looking for while limiting the most important characteristics. Keep the description relatively the same across each criterion but add adjectives or adverbial phrases to display a qualitative difference [1]. Including numbers, requirements should be associated with a qualitative reference that ensures that the quantity quality is not ignored by students (e.g. three relevant and relevant examples) [1].

Kritik rubric repository

To make our professors' lives easier, we've developed a large repository of customizable rubrics that can be used to create activities and conduct online peer review on Kritik. The created or edited rubrics can also be saved and added to the rubric library for future use.

Navinaa Sanmugavadivel
Education enthusiast