Staff Hub

Learn how rubrics and grading forms are defined and used, and get ideas for designing your own. 

Marking and scoring rubrics

Marking criteria are essentially your standards of judgement for the assignment you have set. Your school will have a set of marking criteria for each assessment type. Such generic assessment criteria can be tailored to the individual assessments within your modules. 

Marking or scoring rubrics, (also called ‘grading forms’) are a guide to marking against such generic standards of judgement. As such, rubrics set out how generic marking criteria have been tailored for, and should be applied to, a specific assessment task. Often constructed as a table or grid, rubrics map the agreed criteria against quality or grade descriptors. Good rubrics also include explicit definitions of the quality expected for the different levels of judgement.

Rubrics can incorporate precise scores for each criterion and level of achievement, or be used as a guide for assigning qualitative marks. The type of rubric you use will vary based on the type of assessment and the kinds of judgments you want to make about a piece of work.

Why they are important

Any assessment or project that asks students to construct a response longer than a few words, rather than selecting an answer from a list, would probably benefit from an associated rubric.

From the student’s perspective

It is important to look at things from the student’s perspective, such as:

  • if students have sight of the rubrics in advance, they will be able to see clearly how their work will be judged, and will be able to plan and take control of their learning
  • a clear rubric will help students to understand the marks they have been given
  • detailed marking criteria and rubrics will help students interpret any additional written/narrative feedback provided
  • they are tools students can use to evaluate their own work, or the work of others (peers or exemplar submissions). 

From the tutor’s perspective

From the perspective of the tutor, it is important to:

  • explicitly align assessment tasks and marking criteria to module and programme learning outcomes (constructive alignment)
  • engage students with assessment or module ILOs, while developing their feedback literacy, for example, by engaging students in self-assessment and/or providing marks and feedback to peers. 

From the marker’s perspective

The marker should aim to:

  • help to ensure that marking is reliable  that is, assessors are measuring what the assessment is intended to measure
  • help to ensure that marking is consistent  that is, different markers can assign consistent grades
  • reduce the amount of time dedicated to marking and feedback (although rubrics should be used to enhance, not replace, personalised feedback)
  • mark with well-designed marking criteria and rubrics; these can act as a part of feedback, which makes feedback production more efficient and less labour.

In summary, unless you make the marking criteria clear to students, they won’t know what they are being assessed on. Making such criteria available through rubrics not only provides students with this information, but allows you to provide feedback in a consistent and more time-efficient manner, while still allowing for individualised comments.

Ideas for designing rubrics

In designing rubrics:

  • use your module learning outcomes as a starting point for defining the assessment criteria and to ensure that standards and descriptors are appropriate for the level of study for your students
  • ensure your criteria and related descriptors are concise and written using language that can be easily understood by both staff and students
  • don’t overcomplicate it. If the rubric is too detailed it will become too prescriptive and rigid; as a guide, 3 – 5 criteria and associated standards is a good number to aim for
  • engaging students with the criteria before the assessment will provide a better understanding of expectations. This could be facilitated through peer-review or formative assessment activities where students critically analyse examples of work using the assessment criteria
  • for students to have value as a justified measure, it’s important that each standard and related descriptor is written using language which is clear and concise for both staff and students to understand.

Find guidance on how to create and edit rubrics in Turniton

Rubric examples

Lots of example rubrics can be found online for standard-based assessments (such as essays and reports) and alternative assessments (such as podcasts and portfolios). We’ve gathered together below a few such resources, relating to a wide range of assessment types.

You can use our guidance to create your own marking rubric and utilise the resources below to help align your rubric to specific assessment criteria. See one of our useful EE blogposts on constructively aligning criterion feedback using Turnitin. 

You can find some useful resources on:

How to create and attach a rubric to your assessment

How you create and attach a rubric to your assessments will depend on whether you are using Canvas Online or Turnitin as your e-submission route.

See more from Principles of assessment design