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Creating an Oral Presentation Rubric

In-class activity.

This activity helps students clarify the oral presentation genre; do this after distributing an assignment–in this case, a standard individual oral presentation near the end of the semester which allows students to practice public speaking while also providing a means of workshopping their final paper argument. Together, the class will determine the criteria by which their presentations should–and should not–be assessed.

Guide to Oral/Signed Communication in Writing Classrooms

To collaboratively determine the requirements for students’ oral presentations; to clarify the audience’s expectations of this genre

rhetorical situation; genre; metacognition; oral communication; rubric; assessment; collaboration

  • Ask students to free-write and think about these questions: What makes a good oral presentation? Think of examples of oral presentations that you’ve seen, one “bad” and one “good.” They can be from any genre–for example, a course lecture, a museum talk, a presentation you have given, even a video. Jot down specific strengths and weaknesses.
  • Facilitate a full-class discussion to list the important characteristics of an oral presentation. Group things together. For example, students may say “speaking clearly” as a strength; elicit specifics (intonation, pace, etc.) and encourage them to elaborate.
  • Clarify to students that the more they add to the list, the more information they have in regards to expectations on the oral presentation rubric. If they do not add enough, or specific enough, items, they won’t know what to aim for or how they will be assessed.
  • Review the list on the board and ask students to decide what they think are the most important parts of their oral presentations, ranking their top three components.
  • Create a second list to the side of the board, called “Let it slide,” asking students what, as a class, they should “let slide” in the oral presentations. Guide and elaborate, choosing whether to reject, accept, or compromise on the students’ proposals.
  • Distribute the two lists to students as-is as a checklist-style rubric or flesh the primary list out into a full analytic rubric .

Here’s an example of one possible rubric created from this activity; here’s another example of an oral presentation rubric that assesses only the delivery of the speech/presentation, and which can be used by classmates to evaluate each other.

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Creating and using rubrics.

A rubric describes the criteria that will be used to evaluate a specific task, such as a student writing assignment, poster, oral presentation, or other project. Rubrics allow instructors to communicate expectations to students, allow students to check in on their progress mid-assignment, and can increase the reliability of scores. Research suggests that when rubrics are used on an instructional basis (for instance, included with an assignment prompt for reference), students tend to utilize and appreciate them (Reddy and Andrade, 2010).

Rubrics generally exist in tabular form and are composed of:

  • A description of the task that is being evaluated,
  • The criteria that is being evaluated (row headings),
  • A rating scale that demonstrates different levels of performance (column headings), and
  • A description of each level of performance for each criterion (within each box of the table).

When multiple individuals are grading, rubrics also help improve the consistency of scoring across all graders. Instructors should insure that the structure, presentation, consistency, and use of their rubrics pass rigorous standards of validity , reliability , and fairness (Andrade, 2005).

Major Types of Rubrics

There are two major categories of rubrics:

  • Holistic : In this type of rubric, a single score is provided based on raters’ overall perception of the quality of the performance. Holistic rubrics are useful when only one attribute is being evaluated, as they detail different levels of performance within a single attribute. This category of rubric is designed for quick scoring but does not provide detailed feedback. For these rubrics, the criteria may be the same as the description of the task.
  • Analytic : In this type of rubric, scores are provided for several different criteria that are being evaluated. Analytic rubrics provide more detailed feedback to students and instructors about their performance. Scoring is usually more consistent across students and graders with analytic rubrics.

Rubrics utilize a scale that denotes level of success with a particular assignment, usually a 3-, 4-, or 5- category grid:

writing presentation rubric

Figure 1: Grading Rubrics: Sample Scales (Brown Sheridan Center)

Sample Rubrics

Instructors can consider a sample holistic rubric developed for an English Writing Seminar course at Yale.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities also has a number of free (non-invasive free account required) analytic rubrics that can be downloaded and modified by instructors. These 16 VALUE rubrics enable instructors to measure items such as inquiry and analysis, critical thinking, written communication, oral communication, quantitative literacy, teamwork, problem-solving, and more.


The following provides a procedure for developing a rubric, adapted from Brown’s Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning :

  • Define the goal and purpose of the task that is being evaluated - Before constructing a rubric, instructors should review their learning outcomes associated with a given assignment. Are skills, content, and deeper conceptual knowledge clearly defined in the syllabus , and do class activities and assignments work towards intended outcomes? The rubric can only function effectively if goals are clear and student work progresses towards them.
  • Decide what kind of rubric to use - The kind of rubric used may depend on the nature of the assignment, intended learning outcomes (for instance, does the task require the demonstration of several different skills?), and the amount and kind of feedback students will receive (for instance, is the task a formative or a summative assessment ?). Instructors can read the above, or consider “Additional Resources” for kinds of rubrics.
  • Define the criteria - Instructors can review their learning outcomes and assessment parameters to determine specific criteria for the rubric to cover. Instructors should consider what knowledge and skills are required for successful completion, and create a list of criteria that assess outcomes across different vectors (comprehensiveness, maturity of thought, revisions, presentation, timeliness, etc). Criteria should be distinct and clearly described, and ideally, not surpass seven in number.
  • Define the rating scale to measure levels of performance - Whatever rating scale instructors choose, they should insure that it is clear, and review it in-class to field student question and concerns. Instructors can consider if the scale will include descriptors or only be numerical, and might include prompts on the rubric for achieving higher achievement levels. Rubrics typically include 3-5 levels in their rating scales (see Figure 1 above).
  • Write descriptions for each performance level of the rating scale - Each level should be accompanied by a descriptive paragraph that outlines ideals for each level, lists or names all performance expectations within the level, and if possible, provides a detail or example of ideal performance within each level. Across the rubric, descriptions should be parallel, observable, and measurable.
  • Test and revise the rubric - The rubric can be tested before implementation, by arranging for writing or testing conditions with several graders or TFs who can use the rubric together. After grading with the rubric, graders might grade a similar set of materials without the rubric to assure consistency. Instructors can consider discrepancies, share the rubric and results with faculty colleagues for further opinions, and revise the rubric for use in class. Instructors might also seek out colleagues’ rubrics as well, for comparison. Regarding course implementation, instructors might consider passing rubrics out during the first class, in order to make grading expectations clear as early as possible. Rubrics should fit on one page, so that descriptions and criteria are viewable quickly and simultaneously. During and after a class or course, instructors can collect feedback on the rubric’s clarity and effectiveness from TFs and even students through anonymous surveys. Comparing scores and quality of assignments with parallel or previous assignments that did not include a rubric can reveal effectiveness as well. Instructors should feel free to revise a rubric following a course too, based on student performance and areas of confusion.

Additional Resources

Cox, G. C., Brathwaite, B. H., & Morrison, J. (2015). The Rubric: An assessment tool to guide students and markers. Advances in Higher Education, 149-163.

Creating and Using Rubrics - Carnegie Mellon Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and & Educational Innovation

Creating a Rubric - UC Denver Center for Faculty Development

Grading Rubric Design - Brown University Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning

Moskal, B. M. (2000). Scoring rubrics: What, when and how? Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation 7(3).

Quinlan A. M., (2011) A Complete Guide to Rubrics: Assessment Made Easy for Teachers of K-college 2nd edition, Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Andrade, H. (2005). Teaching with Rubrics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. College Teaching 53(1):27-30.

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

Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning , Brown University


writing presentation rubric


writing presentation rubric

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  1. Research Presentation Rubrics

    The goal of this rubric is to identify and assess elements of research presentations, including delivery strategies and slide design. How to use this rubric: • Self-assessment: Record yourself presenting your talk using your computer’s pre-downloaded recording software or by using the coach in Microsoft PowerPoint.

  2. Creating an Oral Presentation Rubric

    Guide and elaborate, choosing whether to reject, accept, or compromise on the students’ proposals. Distribute the two lists to students as-is as a checklist-style rubric or flesh the primary list out into a full analytic rubric.

  3. Grading Rubrics

    A rubric, or “a matrix that provides levels of achievement for a set of criteria” (Howell, 2014), is a common tool for assessing open-response or creative work (writing, presentations, performances, etc.). To use rubrics effectively, instructors should understand their benefits, the types and uses of rubrics, and their limitations.

  4. Rubric for Standard Research Talks

    Rubric for Standard Research Talks This rubric is designed to help you evaluate the organization, design, and delivery of standard research talks and other oral presentations. Here are some ways to use it: Distribute the rubric to colleagues before a dress rehearsal of your talk.