Nailing the perfect peer evaluation rubric

What is a rubric and why do they matter?

A rubric defines a set of criteria that an assessor can use to evaluate work. Rubrics are not only impactful grading tools for instructors, but also formative learning tools for students, as they provide a more objective method of grading and allow students to understand course expectations and apply their knowledge to their work accordingly (Arter & McTighe, 2001). With Kritik, instructors can strengthen their students’ quality of learning by utilizing rubrics during the peer assessment process.

A 2010 literature review about the effectiveness of rubrics concludes that rubrics can enhance student learning by helping students understand course expectations and encourage critical thinking about their own work (Reddy & Andrade, 2010). A strong rubric for peer assessment activities guides students to create high quality work and provide meaningful evaluations to their peers.

Kritik provides instructors with the tools and templates to develop effective activity rubrics.

How Kritik makes rubric creation more effective and efficient for instructors

Provide structure to the peer assessment process

The Evaluate stage on Kritik requires students to provide a written evaluation in addition to using an instructor-provided rubric to assess their peers’ work. This allows students to provide constructive feedback to their peers, while using the rubric to guide their evaluations.

A 2015 study notes a positive correlation between receiving and providing personalized feedback with rubrics and improved academic performance, as student assessors felt more competent and confident in class when evaluating their peers and their own work (Wollenschläger et al., 2016). Instructors can provide rubrics for the peer assessment process to guide their students in providing meaningful feedback and critically understanding course material. Overall, increased student engagement leads to improved academic performance as they actively participate in class and are given the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge through peer evaluation.

Clear criteria and detailed level descriptions help students to identify what aspects make a strong creation in both their own work and the work of their peers. Students will know what to look for when referring to the rubric and apply their knowledge while evaluating their peers. Instructors can set their students up for success by providing them with a clear path through a rubric and activity guidelines.

Set course expectations

Rubrics communicate the expectations for assignments that align with course objectives. Rubrics that clearly outline expectations guide students to solve problems or create meaningful content.

Sharing a rubric for every assignment will actually reduce the number of incoming questions about requirements or what it takes to go above and beyond. Moreover, knowing what the instructor is specifically looking for in the criteria (e.g. word count, syntax, application of course concepts) and what constitutes quality work will allow students to complete their assignments accordingly.

Demonstrate success in the course

Rubrics are a great road map to success for students. Clearly outlining the quality of work expected in each assignment will also help students create thoughtful work according to the criteria. Moreover, instructors should take time to explain their activity objectives, walk through the rubric, or even provide examples of assignments to better illustrate how to achieve the objective.

Did you know that rubrics actually enhance the quality of feedback in higher education environments? A 2018 study found that higher ed instructors who utilized rubrics and explained the assessment criteria to their students improved their students’ self-assessment and self-regulation skills (Cockett & Jackson, 2018). Students also perceived rubrics positively and performed better academically when they were included in the design and implementation processes of their assignments (Cockett & Jackson, 2018). Involving students in the process or explaining the assessment criteria allows students to further engage with the course expectations and content, and gives them the opportunity to apply their knowledge and evaluation skills.

A repository of high quality rubrics

Kritik offers fully-customizable rubric templates for different types of courses. Instructors can refer to these templates and change the criteria and levels to their taste. For example, here’s a great example rubric template for presentation activities:

How to create a strong rubric

Use rubric templates

Instructors should provide examples of good work and identify the elements of quality work to their students. Additionally, if students are guided through the activity goals and competency objectives, they will be more motivated to perform better and have a better understanding of what to achieve.

Create measurable and specific rubric criteria

When creating a rubric using the Kritik platform, instructors should consider:

  • Assignment goals: does the criteria or level evaluate the student’s application of course concepts and knowledge? Could it be evaluated in its own criterion, or through multiple criteria (for example, for writing courses, the application of course concepts could also be evaluated through grammar and creativity)
  • Assignment instructions: does the criteria or level evaluate whether the student followed the assignment instructions, or meet requirements like word count, formatting, and proper citations?
  • Criteria and levels: What elements make up a high quality assignment? How many levels of achievement are there?
  • Assignment level detail: Am I properly describing each level of performance to identify poor quality of work and understanding, moderate quality and understanding, and high quality and understanding?
  • Grading scheme: what is the weight of each criteria?

Align rubric objectives with the learning objectives

Keep the rubric focused on achieving the learning objectives. Any criteria that is necessary to the assignment or the assignment’s expected learning outcomes should be included. Even then, the criteria and criteria description should be concise and comprehensive, so students can easily understand what is being asked, and utilize the criteria to meaningfully evaluate their peers.

Effective rubrics are descriptive, measurable, concise, and reliable. Criteria and quality descriptions should be comprehensible to multiple assessors. Each criteria and level should be measurable, so students can easily identify these elements, and the criteria description should be detailed enough to help the assessor judge the quality. Concise criteria needs to align with the learning objectives and expected outcomes, and what competencies can be developed.


Rubrics are critical to student success, especially for peer assessment activities. Rubrics introduce a more objective method of grading which will be valuable as multiple assessors evaluate one work. Students can use rubrics to introduce topics of improvement, and break down what elements of their work are strong or could be improved. Overall, creating a strong rubric will help students better absorb course materials as they apply their knowledge when creating their own work and evaluating their peers’ assignments.


Arter, J. A., & McTighe, J. (2001). Scoring rubrics in the classroom: Using performance criteria for assessing and improving student performance. Corwin Press.

Brookhart, S. M., & Chen, F. (2015). The quality and effectiveness of descriptive rubrics. Educational Review (Birmingham), 67(3), 343–368.

Cockett, A., & Jackson, C. (2018). The use of assessment rubrics to enhance feedback in higher education: An integrative literature review. Nurse Education Today, 69, 8–13.

O'Brien, C. E., Franks, A. M., & Stowe, C. D. (2008). Multiple rubric-based assessments of student case presentations. American journal of pharmaceutical education, 72(3), 58.

Reddy, Y. M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 435–448.

Wollenschläger, M., Hattie, J., Machts, N., Möller, J., & Harms, U. (2016). What makes rubrics effective in teacher-feedback? Transparency of learning goals is not enough. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 44-45, 1–11.

Virginia Li
Education Researcher