The following is based on AAU&P’s VALUE Project (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) as well as information taken from Carnegie Mellon

A rubric articulates fundamental criteria for each learning outcome (which should already be identified before starting this step), with performance descriptors demonstrating progressively more sophisticated levels of attainment.

A rubric identifies:

  • criteria: the aspects of performance (e.g., argument, evidence, clarity) that will be assessed
  • descriptors: the characteristics associated with each dimension (e.g., argument is demonstrable and original, evidence is diverse and compelling)
  • performance levels: a rating scale that identifies students’ level of mastery within each criterion

Rubrics can be used to provide feedback to students on diverse types of assignments, from papers, projects, and oral presentations to artistic performances and group projects.

Rubrics can be used for assessment of a particular assignment, a set of assignments (such as a portfolio) or a program. When used by a group of people, rubrics can help to ensure consistency across time and across graders, which is critical in ongoing program assessment.

Once student learning outcomes have been agreed upon by the instructors in a program, the next step is to decide how many levels of performance will be used. The more levels identified, the better one can demonstrate level of mastery. The trend is for a 4-part level: mastery, proficiency, developing and beginning. This allows for a richer description of what is acceptable learning and can help determine weaknesses in a program. In a 2 level distinction, acceptable and unacceptable, does little to distinguish low achievement from high achievement. Where there is low achievement, faculty may want to work to produce higher scores in those areas.

The following example is two student learning outcomes for a portfolio in a writing major. The language used to describe the level of mastery is key. In this example, students go from demonstrating minimal knowledge at the lowest level to adequate and thorough at the upper levels. Raters would have to agree what constitutes the meaning of such terms.

Reporting scores for each outcome will determine the level of mastery for each one, but an overall score can be helpful as well. By adding all scores and dividing by the number of outcomes, a general score can be obtained.

Here are some sample rubrics:Critical Thinking Rubric, Reading Rubric, Written Communication Rubric.

You might also use this matrix as you think about where your measurements will occur in the curriculum: