Writing Beginner

Writing Rubrics [Examples, Best Practices, & Free Templates]

Writing rubrics are essential tools for teachers.

Rubrics can improve both teaching and learning. This guide will explain writing rubrics, their benefits, and how to create and use them effectively.

What Is a Writing Rubric?

Writer typing at a vintage desk, with a stormy night outside -- Writing Rubrics

Table of Contents

A writing rubric is a scoring guide used to evaluate written work.

It lists criteria and describes levels of quality from excellent to poor. Rubrics provide a standardized way to assess writing.

They make expectations clear and grading consistent.

Key Components of a Writing Rubric

  • Criteria : Specific aspects of writing being evaluated (e.g., grammar, organization).
  • Descriptors : Detailed descriptions of what each level of performance looks like.
  • Scoring Levels : Typically, a range (e.g., 1-4 or 1-6) showing levels of mastery.

Example Breakdown

Benefits of using writing rubrics.

Writing rubrics offer many advantages:

  • Clarity : Rubrics clarify expectations for students. They know what is required for each level of performance.
  • Consistency : Rubrics standardize grading. This ensures fairness and consistency across different students and assignments.
  • Feedback : Rubrics provide detailed feedback. Students understand their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Efficiency : Rubrics streamline the grading process. Teachers can evaluate work more quickly and systematically.
  • Self-Assessment : Students can use rubrics to self-assess. This promotes reflection and responsibility for their learning.

Examples of Writing Rubrics

Here are some examples of writing rubrics.

Narrative Writing Rubric

Persuasive writing rubric, best practices for creating writing rubrics.

Let’s look at some best practices for creating useful writing rubrics.

1. Define Clear Criteria

Identify specific aspects of writing to evaluate. Be clear and precise.

The criteria should reflect the key components of the writing task. For example, for a narrative essay, criteria might include plot development, character depth, and use of descriptive language.

Clear criteria help students understand what is expected and allow teachers to provide targeted feedback.

Insider Tip : Collaborate with colleagues to establish consistent criteria across grade levels. This ensures uniformity in expectations and assessments.

2. Use Detailed Descriptors

Describe what each level of performance looks like.

This ensures transparency and clarity. Avoid vague language. Instead of saying “good,” describe what “good” entails. For example, “Few minor grammatical errors that do not impede readability.”

Detailed descriptors help students gauge their performance accurately.

Insider Tip : Use student work samples to illustrate each performance level. This provides concrete examples and helps students visualize expectations.

3. Involve Students

Involve students in the rubric creation process. This increases their understanding and buy-in.

Ask for their input on what they think is important in their writing.

This collaborative approach not only demystifies the grading process but also fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility in students.

Insider Tip : Conduct a workshop where students help create a rubric for an upcoming assignment. This interactive session can clarify doubts and make students more invested in their work.

4. Align with Objectives

Ensure the rubric aligns with learning objectives. This ensures relevance and focus.

If the objective is to enhance persuasive writing skills, the rubric should emphasize argument strength, evidence quality, and persuasive techniques.

Alignment ensures that the assessment directly supports instructional goals.

Insider Tip : Regularly revisit and update rubrics to reflect changes in curriculum and instructional priorities. This keeps the rubrics relevant and effective.

5. Review and Revise

Regularly review and revise rubrics. Ensure they remain accurate and effective.

Solicit feedback from students and colleagues. Continuous improvement of rubrics ensures they remain a valuable tool for both assessment and instruction.

Insider Tip : After using a rubric, take notes on its effectiveness. Were students confused by any criteria? Did the rubric cover all necessary aspects of the assignment? Use these observations to make adjustments.

6. Be Consistent

Use the rubric consistently across all assignments.

This ensures fairness and reliability. Consistency in applying the rubric helps build trust with students and maintains the integrity of the assessment process.

Insider Tip : Develop a grading checklist to accompany the rubric. This can help ensure that all criteria are consistently applied and none are overlooked during the grading process.

7. Provide Examples

Provide examples of each performance level.

This helps students understand expectations. Use annotated examples to show why a particular piece of writing meets a specific level.

This visual and practical demonstration can be more effective than descriptions alone.

Insider Tip : Create a portfolio of exemplar works for different assignments. This can be a valuable resource for both new and experienced teachers to standardize grading.

How to Use Writing Rubrics Effectively

Here is how to use writing rubrics like the pros.

1. Introduce Rubrics Early

Introduce rubrics at the beginning of the assignment.

Explain each criterion and performance level. This upfront clarity helps students understand what is expected and guides their work from the start.

Insider Tip : Conduct a rubric walkthrough session where you discuss each part of the rubric in detail. Allow students to ask questions and provide examples to illustrate each criterion.

2. Use Rubrics as a Teaching Tool

Use rubrics to teach writing skills. Discuss what constitutes good writing and why.

This can be an opportunity to reinforce lessons on grammar, organization, and other writing components.

Insider Tip : Pair the rubric with writing workshops. Use the rubric to critique sample essays and show students how to apply the rubric to improve their own writing.

3. Provide Feedback

Use the rubric to give detailed feedback. Highlight strengths and areas for improvement.

This targeted feedback helps students understand their performance and learn how to improve.

Insider Tip : Instead of just marking scores, add comments next to each criterion on the rubric. This personalized feedback can be more impactful and instructive for students.

4. Encourage Self-Assessment

Encourage students to use rubrics to self-assess.

This promotes reflection and growth. Before submitting their work, ask students to evaluate their own writing against the rubric.

This practice fosters self-awareness and critical thinking.

Insider Tip : Incorporate self-assessment as a mandatory step in the assignment process. Provide a simplified version of the rubric for students to use during self-assessment.

5. Use Rubrics for Peer Assessment

Use rubrics for peer assessment. This allows students to learn from each other.

Peer assessments can provide new perspectives and reinforce learning.

Insider Tip : Conduct a peer assessment workshop. Train students on how to use the rubric to evaluate each other’s work constructively. This can improve the quality of peer feedback.

6. Reflect and Improve

Reflect on the effectiveness of the rubric. Make adjustments as needed for future assignments.

Continuous reflection ensures that rubrics remain relevant and effective tools for assessment and learning.

Insider Tip : After an assignment, hold a debrief session with students to gather their feedback on the rubric. Use their insights to make improvements.

Check out this video about using writing rubrics:

Common Mistakes with Writing Rubrics

Creating and using writing rubrics can be incredibly effective, but there are common mistakes that can undermine their effectiveness.

Here are some pitfalls to avoid:

1. Vague Criteria

Vague criteria can confuse students and lead to inconsistent grading.

Ensure that each criterion is specific and clearly defined. Ambiguous terms like “good” or “satisfactory” should be replaced with concrete descriptions of what those levels of performance look like.

2. Overly Complex Rubrics

While detail is important, overly complex rubrics can be overwhelming for both students and teachers.

Too many criteria and performance levels can complicate the grading process and make it difficult for students to understand what is expected.

Keep rubrics concise and focused on the most important aspects of the assignment.

3. Inconsistent Application

Applying the rubric inconsistently can lead to unfair grading.

Ensure that you apply the rubric in the same way for all students and all assignments. Consistency builds trust and ensures that grades accurately reflect student performance.

4. Ignoring Student Input

Ignoring student input when creating rubrics can result in criteria that do not align with student understanding or priorities.

Involving students in the creation process can enhance their understanding and engagement with the rubric.

5. Failing to Update Rubrics

Rubrics should evolve to reflect changes in instructional goals and student needs.

Failing to update rubrics can result in outdated criteria that no longer align with current teaching objectives.

Regularly review and revise rubrics to keep them relevant and effective.

6. Lack of Examples

Without examples, students may struggle to understand the expectations for each performance level.

Providing annotated examples of work that meets each criterion can help students visualize what is required and guide their efforts more effectively.

7. Not Providing Feedback

Rubrics should be used as a tool for feedback, not just scoring.

Simply assigning a score without providing detailed feedback can leave students unclear about their strengths and areas for improvement.

Use the rubric to give comprehensive feedback that guides students’ growth.

8. Overlooking Self-Assessment and Peer Assessment

Self-assessment and peer assessment are valuable components of the learning process.

Overlooking these opportunities can limit students’ ability to reflect on their own work and learn from their peers.

Encourage students to use the rubric for self and peer assessment to deepen their understanding and enhance their skills.

What Is a Holistic Scoring Rubric for Writing?

A holistic scoring rubric for writing is a type of rubric that evaluates a piece of writing as a whole rather than breaking it down into separate criteria

This approach provides a single overall score based on the general impression of the writing’s quality and effectiveness.

Here’s a closer look at holistic scoring rubrics.

Key Features of Holistic Scoring Rubrics

  • Single Overall Score : Assigns one score based on the overall quality of the writing.
  • General Criteria : Focuses on the overall effectiveness, coherence, and impact of the writing.
  • Descriptors : Uses broad descriptors for each score level to capture the general characteristics of the writing.

Example Holistic Scoring Rubric

Advantages of holistic scoring rubrics.

  • Efficiency : Faster to use because it involves a single overall judgment rather than multiple criteria.
  • Flexibility : Allows for a more intuitive assessment of the writing’s overall impact and effectiveness.
  • Comprehensiveness : Captures the overall quality of writing, considering all elements together.

Disadvantages of Holistic Scoring Rubrics

  • Less Detailed Feedback : Provides a general score without specific feedback on individual aspects of writing.
  • Subjectivity : Can be more subjective, as it relies on the assessor’s overall impression rather than specific criteria.
  • Limited Diagnostic Use : Less useful for identifying specific areas of strength and weakness for instructional purposes.

When to Use Holistic Scoring Rubrics

  • Quick Assessments : When a quick, overall evaluation is needed.
  • Standardized Testing : Often used in standardized testing scenarios where consistency and efficiency are priorities.
  • Initial Impressions : Useful for providing an initial overall impression before more detailed analysis.

Free Writing Rubric Templates

Feel free to use the following writing rubric templates.

You can easily copy and paste them into a Word Document. Please do credit this website on any written, printed, or published use.

Otherwise, go wild.

Expository Writing Rubric

Descriptive writing rubric, analytical writing rubric, final thoughts: writing rubrics.

I have a lot more resources for teaching on this site.

Check out some of the blog posts I’ve listed below. I think you might enjoy them.

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Rubric Best Practices, Examples, and Templates

A rubric is a scoring tool that identifies the different criteria relevant to an assignment, assessment, or learning outcome and states the possible levels of achievement in a specific, clear, and objective way. Use rubrics to assess project-based student work including essays, group projects, creative endeavors, and oral presentations.

Rubrics can help instructors communicate expectations to students and assess student work fairly, consistently and efficiently. Rubrics can provide students with informative feedback on their strengths and weaknesses so that they can reflect on their performance and work on areas that need improvement.

How to Get Started

Best practices, moodle how-to guides.

  • Workshop Recording (Fall 2022)
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Step 1: Analyze the assignment

The first step in the rubric creation process is to analyze the assignment or assessment for which you are creating a rubric. To do this, consider the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the assignment and your feedback? What do you want students to demonstrate through the completion of this assignment (i.e. what are the learning objectives measured by it)? Is it a summative assessment, or will students use the feedback to create an improved product?
  • Does the assignment break down into different or smaller tasks? Are these tasks equally important as the main assignment?
  • What would an “excellent” assignment look like? An “acceptable” assignment? One that still needs major work?
  • How detailed do you want the feedback you give students to be? Do you want/need to give them a grade?

Step 2: Decide what kind of rubric you will use

Types of rubrics: holistic, analytic/descriptive, single-point

Holistic Rubric. A holistic rubric includes all the criteria (such as clarity, organization, mechanics, etc.) to be considered together and included in a single evaluation. With a holistic rubric, the rater or grader assigns a single score based on an overall judgment of the student’s work, using descriptions of each performance level to assign the score.

Advantages of holistic rubrics:

  • Can p lace an emphasis on what learners can demonstrate rather than what they cannot
  • Save grader time by minimizing the number of evaluations to be made for each student
  • Can be used consistently across raters, provided they have all been trained

Disadvantages of holistic rubrics:

  • Provide less specific feedback than analytic/descriptive rubrics
  • Can be difficult to choose a score when a student’s work is at varying levels across the criteria
  • Any weighting of c riteria cannot be indicated in the rubric

Analytic/Descriptive Rubric . An analytic or descriptive rubric often takes the form of a table with the criteria listed in the left column and with levels of performance listed across the top row. Each cell contains a description of what the specified criterion looks like at a given level of performance. Each of the criteria is scored individually.

Advantages of analytic rubrics:

  • Provide detailed feedback on areas of strength or weakness
  • Each criterion can be weighted to reflect its relative importance

Disadvantages of analytic rubrics:

  • More time-consuming to create and use than a holistic rubric
  • May not be used consistently across raters unless the cells are well defined
  • May result in giving less personalized feedback

Single-Point Rubric . A single-point rubric is breaks down the components of an assignment into different criteria, but instead of describing different levels of performance, only the “proficient” level is described. Feedback space is provided for instructors to give individualized comments to help students improve and/or show where they excelled beyond the proficiency descriptors.

Advantages of single-point rubrics:

  • Easier to create than an analytic/descriptive rubric
  • Perhaps more likely that students will read the descriptors
  • Areas of concern and excellence are open-ended
  • May removes a focus on the grade/points
  • May increase student creativity in project-based assignments

Disadvantage of analytic rubrics: Requires more work for instructors writing feedback

Step 3 (Optional): Look for templates and examples.

You might Google, “Rubric for persuasive essay at the college level” and see if there are any publicly available examples to start from. Ask your colleagues if they have used a rubric for a similar assignment. Some examples are also available at the end of this article. These rubrics can be a great starting point for you, but consider steps 3, 4, and 5 below to ensure that the rubric matches your assignment description, learning objectives and expectations.

Step 4: Define the assignment criteria

Make a list of the knowledge and skills are you measuring with the assignment/assessment Refer to your stated learning objectives, the assignment instructions, past examples of student work, etc. for help.

  Helpful strategies for defining grading criteria:

  • Collaborate with co-instructors, teaching assistants, and other colleagues
  • Brainstorm and discuss with students
  • Can they be observed and measured?
  • Are they important and essential?
  • Are they distinct from other criteria?
  • Are they phrased in precise, unambiguous language?
  • Revise the criteria as needed
  • Consider whether some are more important than others, and how you will weight them.

Step 5: Design the rating scale

Most ratings scales include between 3 and 5 levels. Consider the following questions when designing your rating scale:

  • Given what students are able to demonstrate in this assignment/assessment, what are the possible levels of achievement?
  • How many levels would you like to include (more levels means more detailed descriptions)
  • Will you use numbers and/or descriptive labels for each level of performance? (for example 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and/or Exceeds expectations, Accomplished, Proficient, Developing, Beginning, etc.)
  • Don’t use too many columns, and recognize that some criteria can have more columns that others . The rubric needs to be comprehensible and organized. Pick the right amount of columns so that the criteria flow logically and naturally across levels.

Step 6: Write descriptions for each level of the rating scale

Artificial Intelligence tools like Chat GPT have proven to be useful tools for creating a rubric. You will want to engineer your prompt that you provide the AI assistant to ensure you get what you want. For example, you might provide the assignment description, the criteria you feel are important, and the number of levels of performance you want in your prompt. Use the results as a starting point, and adjust the descriptions as needed.

Building a rubric from scratch

For a single-point rubric , describe what would be considered “proficient,” i.e. B-level work, and provide that description. You might also include suggestions for students outside of the actual rubric about how they might surpass proficient-level work.

For analytic and holistic rubrics , c reate statements of expected performance at each level of the rubric.

  • Consider what descriptor is appropriate for each criteria, e.g., presence vs absence, complete vs incomplete, many vs none, major vs minor, consistent vs inconsistent, always vs never. If you have an indicator described in one level, it will need to be described in each level.
  • You might start with the top/exemplary level. What does it look like when a student has achieved excellence for each/every criterion? Then, look at the “bottom” level. What does it look like when a student has not achieved the learning goals in any way? Then, complete the in-between levels.
  • For an analytic rubric , do this for each particular criterion of the rubric so that every cell in the table is filled. These descriptions help students understand your expectations and their performance in regard to those expectations.

Well-written descriptions:

  • Describe observable and measurable behavior
  • Use parallel language across the scale
  • Indicate the degree to which the standards are met

Step 7: Create your rubric

Create your rubric in a table or spreadsheet in Word, Google Docs, Sheets, etc., and then transfer it by typing it into Moodle. You can also use online tools to create the rubric, but you will still have to type the criteria, indicators, levels, etc., into Moodle. Rubric creators: Rubistar , iRubric

Step 8: Pilot-test your rubric

Prior to implementing your rubric on a live course, obtain feedback from:

  • Teacher assistants

Try out your new rubric on a sample of student work. After you pilot-test your rubric, analyze the results to consider its effectiveness and revise accordingly.

  • Limit the rubric to a single page for reading and grading ease
  • Use parallel language . Use similar language and syntax/wording from column to column. Make sure that the rubric can be easily read from left to right or vice versa.
  • Use student-friendly language . Make sure the language is learning-level appropriate. If you use academic language or concepts, you will need to teach those concepts.
  • Share and discuss the rubric with your students . Students should understand that the rubric is there to help them learn, reflect, and self-assess. If students use a rubric, they will understand the expectations and their relevance to learning.
  • Consider scalability and reusability of rubrics. Create rubric templates that you can alter as needed for multiple assignments.
  • Maximize the descriptiveness of your language. Avoid words like “good” and “excellent.” For example, instead of saying, “uses excellent sources,” you might describe what makes a resource excellent so that students will know. You might also consider reducing the reliance on quantity, such as a number of allowable misspelled words. Focus instead, for example, on how distracting any spelling errors are.

Example of an analytic rubric for a final paper

Example of a holistic rubric for a final paper, single-point rubric, more examples:.

  • Single Point Rubric Template ( variation )
  • Analytic Rubric Template make a copy to edit
  • A Rubric for Rubrics
  • Bank of Online Discussion Rubrics in different formats
  • Mathematical Presentations Descriptive Rubric
  • Math Proof Assessment Rubric
  • Kansas State Sample Rubrics
  • Design Single Point Rubric

Technology Tools: Rubrics in Moodle

  • Moodle Docs: Rubrics
  • Moodle Docs: Grading Guide (use for single-point rubrics)

Tools with rubrics (other than Moodle)

  • Google Assignments
  • Turnitin Assignments: Rubric or Grading Form

Other resources

  • DePaul University (n.d.). Rubrics .
  • Gonzalez, J. (2014). Know your terms: Holistic, Analytic, and Single-Point Rubrics . Cult of Pedagogy.
  • Goodrich, H. (1996). Understanding rubrics . Teaching for Authentic Student Performance, 54 (4), 14-17. Retrieved from   
  • Miller, A. (2012). Tame the beast: tips for designing and using rubrics.
  • Ragupathi, K., Lee, A. (2020). Beyond Fairness and Consistency in Grading: The Role of Rubrics in Higher Education. In: Sanger, C., Gleason, N. (eds) Diversity and Inclusion in Global Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.

Person talking and waving an arm (icon)

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


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Research Presentation Rubric

The format of research presentations can vary across and within disciplines. Use this rubric (PDF) to identify and assess elements of research presentations, including delivery strategies and slide design. This resource focuses on research presentations but may be useful beyond. 

Eberly Center

Teaching excellence & educational innovation, grading and performance rubrics, what are rubrics.

A rubric is a scoring tool that explicitly represents the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric divides the assigned work into component parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each component, at varying levels of mastery. Rubrics can be used for a wide array of assignments: papers, projects, oral presentations, artistic performances, group projects, etc. Rubrics can be used as scoring or grading guides, to provide formative feedback to support and guide ongoing learning efforts, or both.

Advantages of Using Rubrics

Using a rubric provides several advantages to both instructors and students. Grading according to an explicit and descriptive set of criteria that is designed to reflect the weighted importance of the objectives of the assignment helps ensure that the instructor’s grading standards don’t change over time. Grading consistency is difficult to maintain over time because of fatigue, shifting standards based on prior experience, or intrusion of other criteria. Furthermore, rubrics can reduce the time spent grading by reducing uncertainty and by allowing instructors to refer to the rubric description associated with a score rather than having to write long comments. Finally, grading rubrics are invaluable in large courses that have multiple graders (other instructors, teaching assistants, etc.) because they can help ensure consistency across graders and reduce the systematic bias that can be introduced between graders.

Used more formatively, rubrics can help instructors get a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of their class. By recording the component scores and tallying up the number of students scoring below an acceptable level on each component, instructors can identify those skills or concepts that need more instructional time and student effort.

Grading rubrics are also valuable to students. A rubric can help instructors communicate to students the specific requirements and acceptable performance standards of an assignment. When rubrics are given to students with the assignment description, they can help students monitor and assess their progress as they work toward clearly indicated goals. When assignments are scored and returned with the rubric, students can more easily recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their work and direct their efforts accordingly.

Examples of Rubrics

Here are links to a diverse set of rubrics designed by Carnegie Mellon faculty and faculty at other institutions. Although your particular field of study and type of assessment activity may not be represented currently, viewing a rubric that is designed for a similar activity may provide you with ideas on how to divide your task into components and how to describe the varying levels of mastery.

Paper Assignments

  • Example 1: Philosophy Paper This rubric was designed for student papers in a range of philosophy courses, CMU.
  • Example 2: Psychology Assignment Short, concept application homework assignment in cognitive psychology, CMU.
  • Example 3: Anthropology Writing Assignments This rubric was designed for a series of short writing assignments in anthropology, CMU.
  • Example 4: History Research Paper . This rubric was designed for essays and research papers in history, CMU.
  • Example 1: Capstone Project in Design This rubric describes the components and standard of performance from the research phase to the final presentation for a senior capstone project in the School of Design, CMU.
  • Example 2: Engineering Design Project This rubric describes performance standards on three aspects of a team project: Research and Design, Communication, and Team Work.

Oral Presentations

  • Example 1: Oral Exam This rubric describes a set of components and standards for assessing performance on an oral exam in an upper-division history course, CMU.
  • Example 2: Oral Communication
  • Example 3: Group Presentations This rubric describes a set of components and standards for assessing group presentations in a history course, CMU.

Class Participation/Contributions

  • Example 1: Discussion Class This rubric assesses the quality of student contributions to class discussions. This is appropriate for an undergraduate-level course, CMU.
  • Example 2: Advanced Seminar This rubric is designed for assessing discussion performance in an advanced undergraduate or graduate seminar. 

creative commons image


Dr. elise gold (engineering).

Below you will find the various criteria used to evaluate your presentation along with categories describing your performance in these areas. The boxes highlighted indicate your overall performance in the broader areas as described. Items specifically needing work may be underlined. Along with a grade, an overall evaluation follows, with a few major suggestions for improvement.

GRADE: _________

(Points lost for not showing up for presentation, not submitting copy of presentation outline, notes, and handout copy of slides on day of presentation for not being present to serve as a peer=s assigned questioner? __________)


writing presentation rubric

How to Use Rubrics

writing presentation rubric

A rubric is a document that describes the criteria by which students’ assignments are graded. Rubrics can be helpful for:

  • Making grading faster and more consistent (reducing potential bias). 
  • Communicating your expectations for an assignment to students before they begin. 

Moreover, for assignments whose criteria are more subjective, the process of creating a rubric and articulating what it looks like to succeed at an assignment provides an opportunity to check for alignment with the intended learning outcomes and modify the assignment prompt, as needed.

Why rubrics?

Rubrics are best for assignments or projects that require evaluation on multiple dimensions. Creating a rubric makes the instructor’s standards explicit to both students and other teaching staff for the class, showing students how to meet expectations.

Additionally, the more comprehensive a rubric is, the more it allows for grading to be streamlined—students will get informative feedback about their performance from the rubric, even if they don’t have as many individualized comments. Grading can be more standardized and efficient across graders.

Finally, rubrics allow for reflection, as the instructor has to think about their standards and outcomes for the students. Using rubrics can help with self-directed learning in students as well, especially if rubrics are used to review students’ own work or their peers’, or if students are involved in creating the rubric.

How to design a rubric

1. consider the desired learning outcomes.

What learning outcomes is this assignment reinforcing and assessing? If the learning outcome seems “fuzzy,” iterate on the outcome by thinking about the expected student work product. This may help you more clearly articulate the learning outcome in a way that is measurable.  

2. Define criteria

What does a successful assignment submission look like? As described by Allen and Tanner (2006), it can help develop an initial list of categories that the student should demonstrate proficiency in by completing the assignment. These categories should correlate with the intended learning outcomes you identified in Step 1, although they may be more granular in some cases. For example, if the task assesses students’ ability to formulate an effective communication strategy, what components of their communication strategy will you be looking for? Talking with colleagues or looking at existing rubrics for similar tasks may give you ideas for categories to consider for evaluation.

If you have assigned this task to students before and have samples of student work, it can help create a qualitative observation guide. This is described in Linda Suskie’s book Assessing Student Learning , where she suggests thinking about what made you decide to give one assignment an A and another a C, as well as taking notes when grading assignments and looking for common patterns. The often repeated themes that you comment on may show what your goals and expectations for students are. An example of an observation guide used to take notes on predetermined areas of an assignment is shown here .

In summary, consider the following list of questions when defining criteria for a rubric (O’Reilly and Cyr, 2006):

  • What do you want students to learn from the task?
  • How will students demonstrate that they have learned?
  • What knowledge, skills, and behaviors are required for the task?
  • What steps are required for the task?
  • What are the characteristics of the final product?

After developing an initial list of criteria, prioritize the most important skills you want to target and eliminate unessential criteria or combine similar skills into one group. Most rubrics have between 3 and 8 criteria. Rubrics that are too lengthy make it difficult to grade and challenging for students to understand the key skills they need to achieve for the given assignment. 

3. Create the rating scale

According to Suskie, you will want at least 3 performance levels: for adequate and inadequate performance, at the minimum, and an exemplary level to motivate students to strive for even better work. Rubrics often contain 5 levels, with an additional level between adequate and exemplary and a level between adequate and inadequate. Usually, no more than 5 levels are needed, as having too many rating levels can make it hard to consistently distinguish which rating to give an assignment (such as between a 6 or 7 out of 10). Suskie also suggests labeling each level with names to clarify which level represents the minimum acceptable performance. Labels will vary by assignment and subject, but some examples are: 

  • Exceeds standard, meets standard, approaching standard, below standard
  • Complete evidence, partial evidence, minimal evidence, no evidence

4. Fill in descriptors

Fill in descriptors for each criterion at each performance level. Expand on the list of criteria you developed in Step 2. Begin to write full descriptions, thinking about what an exemplary example would look like for students to strive towards. Avoid vague terms like “good” and make sure to use explicit, concrete terms to describe what would make a criterion good. For instance, a criterion called “organization and structure” would be more descriptive than “writing quality.” Describe measurable behavior and use parallel language for clarity; the wording for each criterion should be very similar, except for the degree to which standards are met. For example, in a sample rubric from Chapter 9 of Suskie’s book, the criterion of “persuasiveness” has the following descriptors:

  • Well Done (5): Motivating questions and advance organizers convey the main idea. Information is accurate.
  • Satisfactory (3-4): Includes persuasive information.
  • Needs Improvement (1-2): Include persuasive information with few facts.
  • Incomplete (0): Information is incomplete, out of date, or incorrect.

These sample descriptors generally have the same sentence structure that provides consistent language across performance levels and shows the degree to which each standard is met.

5. Test your rubric

Test your rubric using a range of student work to see if the rubric is realistic. You may also consider leaving room for aspects of the assignment, such as effort, originality, and creativity, to encourage students to go beyond the rubric. If there will be multiple instructors grading, it is important to calibrate the scoring by having all graders use the rubric to grade a selected set of student work and then discuss any differences in the scores. This process helps develop consistency in grading and making the grading more valid and reliable.

Types of Rubrics

If you would like to dive deeper into rubric terminology, this section is dedicated to discussing some of the different types of rubrics. However, regardless of the type of rubric you use, it’s still most important to focus first on your learning goals and think about how the rubric will help clarify students’ expectations and measure student progress towards those learning goals.

Depending on the nature of the assignment, rubrics can come in several varieties (Suskie, 2009):

Checklist Rubric

This is the simplest kind of rubric, which lists specific features or aspects of the assignment which may be present or absent. A checklist rubric does not involve the creation of a rating scale with descriptors. See example from 18.821 project-based math class .

Rating Scale Rubric

This is like a checklist rubric, but instead of merely noting the presence or absence of a feature or aspect of the assignment, the grader also rates quality (often on a graded or Likert-style scale). See example from 6.811 assistive technology class .

Descriptive Rubric

A descriptive rubric is like a rating scale, but including descriptions of what performing to a certain level on each scale looks like. Descriptive rubrics are particularly useful in communicating instructors’ expectations of performance to students and in creating consistency with multiple graders on an assignment. This kind of rubric is probably what most people think of when they imagine a rubric. See example from 15.279 communications class .

Holistic Scoring Guide

Unlike the first 3 types of rubrics, a holistic scoring guide describes performance at different levels (e.g., A-level performance, B-level performance) holistically without analyzing the assignment into several different scales. This kind of rubric is particularly useful when there are many assignments to grade and a moderate to a high degree of subjectivity in the assessment of quality. It can be difficult to have consistency across scores, and holistic scoring guides are most helpful when making decisions quickly rather than providing detailed feedback to students. See example from 11.229 advanced writing seminar .

The kind of rubric that is most appropriate will depend on the assignment in question.

Implementation tips

Rubrics are also available to use for Canvas assignments. See this resource from Boston College for more details and guides from Canvas Instructure.

Allen, D., & Tanner, K. (2006). Rubrics: Tools for Making Learning Goals and Evaluation Criteria Explicit for Both Teachers and Learners. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 5 (3), 197-203. doi:10.1187/cbe.06-06-0168

Cherie Miot Abbanat. 11.229 Advanced Writing Seminar. Spring 2004. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu . License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA .

Haynes Miller, Nat Stapleton, Saul Glasman, and Susan Ruff. 18.821 Project Laboratory in Mathematics. Spring 2013. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu . License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA .

Lori Breslow, and Terence Heagney. 15.279 Management Communication for Undergraduates. Fall 2012. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu . License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA .

O’Reilly, L., & Cyr, T. (2006). Creating a Rubric: An Online Tutorial for Faculty. Retrieved from https://www.ucdenver.edu/faculty_staff/faculty/center-for-faculty-development/Documents/Tutorials/Rubrics/index.htm

Suskie, L. (2009). Using a scoring guide or rubric to plan and evaluate an assessment. In Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd edition, pp. 137-154 ) . Jossey-Bass.

William Li, Grace Teo, and Robert Miller. 6.811 Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology. Fall 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu . License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA .

New Teacher Coach | Support For New Secondary Teachers

How to Create a Rubric in Five Steps (With Examples)

Amanda Melsby

by Amanda Melsby — February 2, 2024

OK, Confession Time

As a new teacher in the early 2000s, I avoided rubrics like the proverbial plague.  I had my reasons!  Rubrics always felt generic and vague.  I wasn’t even sure how to create a rubric.  And when I did try my hand at a rubric, it took forever to make.

What did I do before using a rubric, you ask?

I’d simply write a score and brief comment on the student’s work.  I apologize to any of my former students who may recognize the following teacher comment:

45/50  Great job on this!  Excellent artwork to go with your ideas!

No categories. No criteria.  No real feedback.  Best practice it was NOT.

What I needed was a rubric.

Many years later, I am here to tell you that rubrics are your friend.

Rubrics can be wonderful tools that streamline grading for the teacher.  For students, a rubric communicates the criteria for grading and encourages self-reflection on the quality of their work.  

If you are just starting with rubrics, here are key questions to think through to make your rubric work for you.  Once you have these components, consider using a rubric generator to begin the process or, for no work involved, start with one of ours and then determine what tweaks you would like to make for future assignments.  

How to Create a Rubric in Five Steps

Step 1: identify 4-5 elements you want to grade..

Rubrics work best when there are four to five categories–any more and it becomes cumbersome for both you and the students.  The more you can fully define what you want to assess, the better you will be able to choose rubric criteria that will assist your grading.  

Yes, there are many more categories that you could grade.  Rubrics force you to be very clear about what is most important for the assignment and award points only to those categories.

how to build a rubric

To download this Oral Presentation rubric, click here .

For a Persuasive Essay rubric click here .

For a Group Work rubric, click here .

Step 2: Clarify the criteria within those categories to differentiate each level.

Once you have your categories, consider the criteria that differentiate a “meets standards” from an “exceeds standards” and so on.  If you use a rubric generator, the criteria will populate itself.  That is helpful.  Carefully read through it to determine if the AI-generated descriptors work for you.  If not, tweak the criteria so it is more in line with your students’ work.  

The more specific you are with the criteria, the easier it will make your grading and the clearer your grading will be to the students.  

how to create a rubric

Step 3: Determine if the rubric’s grading scale fits your assignment.

Generally, the auto-generated rubric will be on a four- or five-point scale. You might see levels classified like the examples below.

rubric grading scales

Other options include letters (A-F) or numbers (1-4).  Take a moment to make sure that whether you are using a four- or five-point level scale, it fits with your assignment.  

The main question to ask yourself is if the scale gives you enough flexibility to accurately identify the category that the work falls into.  If you find yourself constantly wanting to circle the middle, you may need an additional level in your rubric.

Step 4: Use the rubric to add objectivity to a subjective grading task.

Rubrics are generally used for writing, presentations, and projects.  Often these can be some of the most difficult assignments to grade because they are more subjective than a quiz or exam.  

The rubric is there to help you grade more consistently and accurately.  

Begin by marking rubrics — simply circling the descriptors that match the student’s work is fine. It’s helpful to practice with 3 to 5 pieces of work (preferably from students of varying abilities) and compare them to the categories and criteria.  

Once you start to see patterns in the work, your scoring will become more accurate, consistent, and timely.  Practicing with a few first will give you a sense of the quality of the work you are receiving and how they fit into the criteria you have on your rubric. 

Step 5: Decide how those circles on a rubric translate into a grade in your grade book.

using a rubric

Chances are, each student has a variety of levels circled throughout the rubric, which will need to be translated into a score.  

The easiest way is to decide on the overall point value (say 50 points) and decide on the number of maximum points per category (20 points for analysis of evidence, 20 points for quality of evidence, and 10 points for mechanics).  

From there you will need to decide the point value for each level (20 points for a 4, 16 points for a 3, 14 points for a 2, and 10 points for a 1).  You then add up the points from each category for the overall grade.  

One note of caution: stick to one point value per level.  If you try to have a range within each level, it will cause more headaches than not using a rubric at all.

Choose an assignment or two this year to experiment with these time-saving tools.

Building a rubric after having built your assignment may seem like an added step that you do not have time for.  However, it can be a great time-saver.  

Choose a couple of assignments this year (presentations or group work are great places to start) and jump in.  It may feel clunky at first, but once you get into the groove of working with and using rubrics, you’ll be glad you did.

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Rubrics are a set of criteria to evaluate performance on an assignment or assessment. Rubrics can communicate expectations regarding the quality of work to students and provide a standardized framework for instructors to assess work. Rubrics can be used for both formative and summative assessment. They are also crucial in encouraging self-assessment of work and structuring peer-assessments. 

Why use rubrics?

Rubrics are an important tool to assess learning in an equitable and just manner. This is because they enable:

  • A common set of standards and criteria to be uniformly applied, which can mitigate bias
  • Transparency regarding the standards and criteria on which students are evaluated
  • Efficient grading with timely and actionable feedback 
  • Identifying areas in which students need additional support and guidance 
  • The use of objective, criterion-referenced metrics for evaluation 

Some instructors may be reluctant to provide a rubric to grade assessments under the perception that it stifles student creativity (Haugnes & Russell, 2018). However, sharing the purpose of an assessment and criteria for success in the form of a rubric along with relevant examples has been shown to particularly improve the success of BIPOC, multiracial, and first-generation students (Jonsson, 2014; Winkelmes, 2016). Improved success in assessments is generally associated with an increased sense of belonging which, in turn, leads to higher student retention and more equitable outcomes in the classroom (Calkins & Winkelmes, 2018; Weisz et al., 2023). By not providing a rubric, faculty may risk having students guess the criteria on which they will be evaluated. When students have to guess what expectations are, it may unfairly disadvantage students who are first-generation, BIPOC, international, or otherwise have not been exposed to the cultural norms that have dominated higher-ed institutions in the U.S (Shapiro et al., 2023). Moreover, in such cases, criteria may be applied inconsistently for students leading to biases in grades awarded to students.

Steps for Creating a Rubric

Clearly state the purpose of the assessment, which topic(s) learners are being tested on, the type of assessment (e.g., a presentation, essay, group project), the skills they are being tested on (e.g., writing, comprehension, presentation, collaboration), and the goal of the assessment for instructors (e.g., gauging formative or summative understanding of the topic). 

Determine the specific criteria or dimensions to assess in the assessment. These criteria should align with the learning objectives or outcomes to be evaluated. These criteria typically form the rows in a rubric grid and describe the skills, knowledge, or behavior to be demonstrated. The set of criteria may include, for example, the idea/content, quality of arguments, organization, grammar, citations and/or creativity in writing. These criteria may form separate rows or be compiled in a single row depending on the type of rubric.

(See row headers  of  Figure 1 )

Create a scale of performance levels that describe the degree of proficiency attained for each criterion. The scale typically has 4 to 5 levels (although there may be fewer levels depending on the type of rubrics used). The rubrics should also have meaningful labels (e.g., not meeting expectations, approaching expectations, meeting expectations, exceeding expectations). When assigning levels of performance, use inclusive language that can inculcate a growth mindset among students, especially when work may be otherwise deemed to not meet the mark. Some examples include, “Does not yet meet expectations,” “Considerable room for improvement,” “ Progressing,” “Approaching,” “Emerging,” “Needs more work,” instead of using terms like “Unacceptable,” “Fails,” “Poor,” or “Below Average.”

(See column headers  of  Figure 1 )

Develop a clear and concise descriptor for each combination of criterion and performance level. These descriptors should provide examples or explanations of what constitutes each level of performance for each criterion. Typically, instructors should start by describing the highest and lowest level of performance for that criterion and then describing intermediate performance for that criterion. It is important to keep the language uniform across all columns, e.g., use syntax and words that are aligned in each column for a given criteria. 

(See cells  of  Figure 1 )

It is important to consider how each criterion is weighted and for each criterion to reflect the importance of learning objectives being tested. For example, if the primary goal of a research proposal is to test mastery of content and application of knowledge, these criteria should be weighted more heavily compared to other criteria (e.g., grammar, style of presentation). This can be done by associating a different scoring system for each criteria (e.g., Following a scale of 8-6-4-2 points for each level of performance in higher weight criteria and 4-3-2-1 points for each level of performance for lower weight criteria). Further, the number of points awarded across levels of performance should be evenly spaced (e.g., 10-8-6-4 instead of 10-6-3-1). Finally, if there is a letter grade associated with a particular assessment, consider how it relates to scores. For example, instead of having students receive an A only if they received the highest level of performance on each criterion, consider assigning an A grade to a range of scores (28 - 30 total points) or a combination of levels of performance (e.g., exceeds expectations on higher weight criteria and meets expectations on other criteria). 

(See the numerical values in the column headers  of  Figure 1 )

 a close up of a score sheet

Figure 1:  Graphic describing the five basic elements of a rubric

Note : Consider using a template rubric that can be used to evaluate similar activities in the classroom to avoid the fatigue of developing multiple rubrics. Some tools include Rubistar or iRubric which provide suggested words for each criteria depending on the type of assessment. Additionally, the above format can be incorporated in rubrics that can be directly added in Canvas or in the grid view of rubrics in gradescope which are common grading tools. Alternately, tables within a Word processor or Spreadsheet may also be used to build a rubric. You may also adapt the example rubrics provided below to the specific learning goals for the assessment using the blank template rubrics we have provided against each type of rubric. Watch the linked video for a quick introduction to designing a rubric . Word document (docx) files linked below will automatically download to your device whereas pdf files will open in a new tab.

Types of Rubrics

In these rubrics, one specifies at least two criteria and provides a separate score for each criterion. The steps outlined above for creating a rubric are typical for an analytic style rubric. Analytic rubrics are used to provide detailed feedback to students and help identify strengths as well as particular areas in need of improvement. These can be particularly useful when providing formative feedback to students, for student peer assessment and self-assessments, or for project-based summative assessments that evaluate student learning across multiple criteria. You may use a blank analytic rubric template (docx) or adapt an existing sample of an analytic rubric (pdf) . 

figure 2

Fig 2: Graphic describing a sample analytic rubric (adopted from George Mason University, 2013)

These are a subset of analytical rubrics that are typically used to assess student performance and engagement during a learning period but not the end product. Such rubrics are typically used to assess soft skills and behaviors that are less tangible (e.g., intercultural maturity, empathy, collaboration skills). These rubrics are useful in assessing the extent to which students develop a particular skill, ability, or value in experiential learning based programs or skills. They are grounded in the theory of development (King, 2005). Examples include an intercultural knowledge and competence rubric (docx)  and a global learning rubric (docx) .

These rubrics consider all criteria evaluated on one scale, providing a single score that gives an overall impression of a student’s performance on an assessment.These rubrics also emphasize the overall quality of a student’s work, rather than delineating shortfalls of their work. However, a limitation of the holistic rubrics is that they are not useful for providing specific, nuanced feedback or to identify areas of improvement. Thus, they might be useful when grading summative assessments in which students have previously received detailed feedback using analytic or single-point rubrics. They may also be used to provide quick formative feedback for smaller assignments where not more than 2-3 criteria are being tested at once. Try using our blank holistic rubric template docx)  or adapt an existing sample of holistic rubric (pdf) . 

figure 3

Fig 3: Graphic describing a sample holistic rubric (adopted from Teaching Commons, DePaul University)

These rubrics contain only two levels of performance (e.g., yes/no, present/absent) across a longer list of criteria (beyond 5 levels). Checklist rubrics have the advantage of providing a quick assessment of criteria given the binary assessment of criteria that are either met or are not met. Consequently, they are preferable when initiating self- or  peer-assessments of learning given that it simplifies evaluations to be more objective and criteria can elicit only one of two responses allowing uniform and quick grading. For similar reasons, such rubrics are useful for faculty in providing quick formative feedback since it immediately highlights the specific criteria to improve on. Such rubrics are also used in grading summative assessments in courses utilizing alternative grading systems such as specifications grading, contract grading or a credit/no credit grading system wherein a minimum threshold of performance has to be met for the assessment. Having said that, developing rubrics from existing analytical rubrics may require considerable investment upfront given that criteria have to be phrased in a way that can only elicit binary responses. Here is a link to the checklist rubric template (docx) .

 Graphic describing a sample checklist rubric

Fig. 4: Graphic describing a sample checklist rubric

A single point rubric is a modified version of a checklist style rubric, in that it specifies a single column of criteria. However, rather than only indicating whether expectations are met or not, as happens in a checklist rubric, a single point rubric allows instructors to specify ways in which criteria exceeds or does not meet expectations. Here the criteria to be tested are laid out in a central column describing the average expectation for the assignment. Instructors indicate areas of improvement on the left side of the criteria, whereas areas of strength in student performance are indicated on the right side. These types of rubrics provide flexibility in scoring, and are typically used in courses with alternative grading systems such as ungrading or contract grading. However, they do require the instructors to provide detailed feedback for each student, which can be unfeasible for assessments in large classes. Here is a link to the single point rubric template (docx) .

Fig. 5 Graphic describing a single point rubric (adopted from Teaching Commons, DePaul University)

Fig. 5 Graphic describing a single point rubric (adopted from Teaching Commons, DePaul University)

Best Practices for Designing and Implementing Rubrics

When designing the rubric format, descriptors and criteria should be presented in a way that is compatible with screen readers and reading assistive technology. For example, avoid using only color, jargon, or complex terminology to convey information. In case you do use color, pictures or graphics, try providing alternative formats for rubrics, such as plain text documents. Explore resources from the CU Digital Accessibility Office to learn more.

Co-creating rubrics can help students to engage in higher-order thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation. Further, it allows students to take ownership of their own learning by determining the criteria of their work they aspire towards. For graduate classes or upper-level students, one way of doing this may be to provide learning outcomes of the project, and let students develop the rubric on their own. However, students in introductory classes may need more scaffolding by providing them a draft and leaving room for modification (Stevens & Levi 2013). Watch the linked video for tips on co-creating rubrics with students . Further, involving teaching assistants in designing a rubric can help in getting feedback on expectations for an assessment prior to implementing and norming a rubric. 

When first designing a rubric, it is important to compare grades awarded for the same assessment by multiple graders to make sure the criteria are applied uniformly and reliably for the same level of performance. Further, ensure that the levels of performance in student work can be adequately distinguished using a rubric. Such a norming protocol is particularly important to also do at the start of any course in which multiple graders use the same rubric to grade an assessment (e.g., recitation sections, lab sections, teaching team). Here, instructors may select a subset of assignments that all graders evaluate using the same rubric, followed by a discussion to identify any discrepancies in criteria applied and ways to address them. Such strategies can make the rubrics more reliable, effective, and clear.

Sharing the rubric with students prior to an assessment can help familiarize students with an instructor’s expectations. This can help students master their learning outcomes by guiding their work in the appropriate direction and increase student motivation. Further, providing the rubric to students can help encourage metacognition and ability to self-assess learning.

Sample Rubrics

Below are links to rubric templates designed by a team of experts assembled by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to assess 16 major learning goals. These goals are a part of the Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) program. All of these examples are analytic rubrics and have detailed criteria to test specific skills. However, since any given assessment typically tests multiple skills, instructors are encouraged to develop their own rubric by utilizing criteria picked from a combination of the rubrics linked below.

  • Civic knowledge and engagement-local and global
  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Foundations and skills for lifelong learning
  • Information literacy
  • Integrative and applied learning
  • Intercultural knowledge and competence
  • Inquiry and analysis
  • Oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Quantitative literacy
  • Written Communication

Note : Clicking on the above links will automatically download them to your device in Microsoft Word format. These links have been created and are hosted by Kansas State University . Additional information regarding the VALUE Rubrics may be found on the AAC&U homepage . 

Below are links to sample rubrics that have been developed for different types of assessments. These rubrics follow the analytical rubric template, unless mentioned otherwise. However, these rubrics can be modified into other types of rubrics (e.g., checklist, holistic or single point rubrics) based on the grading system and goal of assessment (e.g., formative or summative). As mentioned previously, these rubrics can be modified using the blank template provided.

  • Oral presentations  
  • Painting Portfolio (single-point rubric)
  • Research Paper
  • Video Storyboard

Additional information:

Office of Assessment and Curriculum Support. (n.d.). Creating and using rubrics . University of Hawai’i, Mānoa

Calkins, C., & Winkelmes, M. A. (2018). A teaching method that boosts UNLV student retention . UNLV Best Teaching Practices Expo , 3.

Fraile, J., Panadero, E., & Pardo, R. (2017). Co-creating rubrics: The effects on self-regulated learning, self-efficacy and performance of establishing assessment criteria with students. Studies In Educational Evaluation , 53, 69-76

Haugnes, N., & Russell, J. L. (2016). Don’t box me in: Rubrics for àrtists and Designers . To Improve the Academy , 35 (2), 249–283. 

Jonsson, A. (2014). Rubrics as a way of providing transparency in assessment , Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 39(7), 840-852 

McCartin, L. (2022, February 1). Rubrics! an equity-minded practice . University of Northern Colorado

Shapiro, S., Farrelly, R., & Tomaš, Z. (2023). Chapter 4: Effective and Equitable Assignments and Assessments. Fostering International Student Success in higher education (pp, 61-87, second edition). TESOL Press.

Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. J. (2013). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning (second edition). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Teaching Commons (n.d.). Types of Rubrics . DePaul University

Teaching Resources (n.d.). Rubric best practices, examples, and templates . NC State University 

Winkelmes, M., Bernacki, M., Butler, J., Zochowski, M., Golanics, J., & Weavil, K.H. (2016). A teaching intervention that increases underserved college students’ success . Peer Review , 8(1/2), 31-36.

Weisz, C., Richard, D., Oleson, K., Winkelmes, M.A., Powley, C., Sadik, A., & Stone, B. (in progress, 2023). Transparency, confidence, belonging and skill development among 400 community college students in the state of Washington . 

Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2009). Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) . 

Canvas Community. (2021, August 24). How do I add a rubric in a course? Canvas LMS Community.

 Center for Teaching & Learning. (2021, March 03). Overview of Rubrics . University of Colorado, Boulder

 Center for Teaching & Learning. (2021, March 18). Best practices to co-create rubrics with students . University of Colorado, Boulder.

Chase, D., Ferguson, J. L., & Hoey, J. J. (2014). Assessment in creative disciplines: Quantifying and qualifying the aesthetic . Common Ground Publishing.

Feldman, J. (2018). Grading for equity: What it is, why it matters, and how it can transform schools and classrooms . Corwin Press, CA.

Gradescope (n.d.). Instructor: Assignment - Grade Submissions . Gradescope Help Center. 

Henning, G., Baker, G., Jankowski, N., Lundquist, A., & Montenegro, E. (Eds.). (2022). Reframing assessment to center equity . Stylus Publishing. 

 King, P. M. & Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2005). A developmental model of intercultural maturity . Journal of College Student Development . 46(2), 571-592.

Selke, M. J. G. (2013). Rubric assessment goes to college: Objective, comprehensive evaluation of student work. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

The Institute for Habits of Mind. (2023, January 9). Creativity Rubrics - The Institute for Habits of Mind . 

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Rubric Design

Main navigation, articulating your assessment values.

Reading, commenting on, and then assigning a grade to a piece of student writing requires intense attention and difficult judgment calls. Some faculty dread “the stack.” Students may share the faculty’s dim view of writing assessment, perceiving it as highly subjective. They wonder why one faculty member values evidence and correctness before all else, while another seeks a vaguely defined originality.

Writing rubrics can help address the concerns of both faculty and students by making writing assessment more efficient, consistent, and public. Whether it is called a grading rubric, a grading sheet, or a scoring guide, a writing assignment rubric lists criteria by which the writing is graded.

Why create a writing rubric?

  • It makes your tacit rhetorical knowledge explicit
  • It articulates community- and discipline-specific standards of excellence
  • It links the grade you give the assignment to the criteria
  • It can make your grading more efficient, consistent, and fair as you can read and comment with your criteria in mind
  • It can help you reverse engineer your course: once you have the rubrics created, you can align your readings, activities, and lectures with the rubrics to set your students up for success
  • It can help your students produce writing that you look forward to reading

How to create a writing rubric

Create a rubric at the same time you create the assignment. It will help you explain to the students what your goals are for the assignment.

  • Consider your purpose: do you need a rubric that addresses the standards for all the writing in the course? Or do you need to address the writing requirements and standards for just one assignment?  Task-specific rubrics are written to help teachers assess individual assignments or genres, whereas generic rubrics are written to help teachers assess multiple assignments.
  • Begin by listing the important qualities of the writing that will be produced in response to a particular assignment. It may be helpful to have several examples of excellent versions of the assignment in front of you: what writing elements do they all have in common? Among other things, these may include features of the argument, such as a main claim or thesis; use and presentation of sources, including visuals; and formatting guidelines such as the requirement of a works cited.
  • Then consider how the criteria will be weighted in grading. Perhaps all criteria are equally important, or perhaps there are two or three that all students must achieve to earn a passing grade. Decide what best fits the class and requirements of the assignment.

Consider involving students in Steps 2 and 3. A class session devoted to developing a rubric can provoke many important discussions about the ways the features of the language serve the purpose of the writing. And when students themselves work to describe the writing they are expected to produce, they are more likely to achieve it.

At this point, you will need to decide if you want to create a holistic or an analytic rubric. There is much debate about these two approaches to assessment.

Comparing Holistic and Analytic Rubrics

Holistic scoring .

Holistic scoring aims to rate overall proficiency in a given student writing sample. It is often used in large-scale writing program assessment and impromptu classroom writing for diagnostic purposes.

General tenets to holistic scoring:

  • Responding to drafts is part of evaluation
  • Responses do not focus on grammar and mechanics during drafting and there is little correction
  • Marginal comments are kept to 2-3 per page with summative comments at end
  • End commentary attends to students’ overall performance across learning objectives as articulated in the assignment
  • Response language aims to foster students’ self-assessment

Holistic rubrics emphasize what students do well and generally increase efficiency; they may also be more valid because scoring includes authentic, personal reaction of the reader. But holistic sores won’t tell a student how they’ve progressed relative to previous assignments and may be rater-dependent, reducing reliability. (For a summary of advantages and disadvantages of holistic scoring, see Becker, 2011, p. 116.)

Here is an example of a partial holistic rubric:

Summary meets all the criteria. The writer understands the article thoroughly. The main points in the article appear in the summary with all main points proportionately developed. The summary should be as comprehensive as possible and should be as comprehensive as possible and should read smoothly, with appropriate transitions between ideas. Sentences should be clear, without vagueness or ambiguity and without grammatical or mechanical errors.

A complete holistic rubric for a research paper (authored by Jonah Willihnganz) can be  downloaded here.

Analytic Scoring

Analytic scoring makes explicit the contribution to the final grade of each element of writing. For example, an instructor may choose to give 30 points for an essay whose ideas are sufficiently complex, that marshals good reasons in support of a thesis, and whose argument is logical; and 20 points for well-constructed sentences and careful copy editing.

General tenets to analytic scoring:

  • Reflect emphases in your teaching and communicate the learning goals for the course
  • Emphasize student performance across criterion, which are established as central to the assignment in advance, usually on an assignment sheet
  • Typically take a quantitative approach, providing a scaled set of points for each criterion
  • Make the analytic framework available to students before they write  

Advantages of an analytic rubric include ease of training raters and improved reliability. Meanwhile, writers often can more easily diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of their work. But analytic rubrics can be time-consuming to produce, and raters may judge the writing holistically anyway. Moreover, many readers believe that writing traits cannot be separated. (For a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of analytic scoring, see Becker, 2011, p. 115.)

For example, a partial analytic rubric for a single trait, “addresses a significant issue”:

  • Excellent: Elegantly establishes the current problem, why it matters, to whom
  • Above Average: Identifies the problem; explains why it matters and to whom
  • Competent: Describes topic but relevance unclear or cursory
  • Developing: Unclear issue and relevance

A  complete analytic rubric for a research paper can be downloaded here.  In WIM courses, this language should be revised to name specific disciplinary conventions.

Whichever type of rubric you write, your goal is to avoid pushing students into prescriptive formulas and limiting thinking (e.g., “each paragraph has five sentences”). By carefully describing the writing you want to read, you give students a clear target, and, as Ed White puts it, “describe the ongoing work of the class” (75).

Writing rubrics contribute meaningfully to the teaching of writing. Think of them as a coaching aide. In class and in conferences, you can use the language of the rubric to help you move past generic statements about what makes good writing good to statements about what constitutes success on the assignment and in the genre or discourse community. The rubric articulates what you are asking students to produce on the page; once that work is accomplished, you can turn your attention to explaining how students can achieve it.

Works Cited

Becker, Anthony.  “Examining Rubrics Used to Measure Writing Performance in U.S. Intensive English Programs.”   The CATESOL Journal  22.1 (2010/2011):113-30. Web.

White, Edward M.  Teaching and Assessing Writing . Proquest Info and Learning, 1985. Print.

Further Resources

CCCC Committee on Assessment. “Writing Assessment: A Position Statement.” November 2006 (Revised March 2009). Conference on College Composition and Communication. Web.

Gallagher, Chris W. “Assess Locally, Validate Globally: Heuristics for Validating Local Writing Assessments.” Writing Program Administration 34.1 (2010): 10-32. Web.

Huot, Brian.  (Re)Articulating Writing Assessment for Teaching and Learning.  Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. Print.

Kelly-Reilly, Diane, and Peggy O’Neil, eds. Journal of Writing Assessment. Web.

McKee, Heidi A., and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss DeVoss, Eds. Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web.

O’Neill, Peggy, Cindy Moore, and Brian Huot.  A Guide to College Writing Assessment . Logan: Utah State UP, 2009. Print.

Sommers, Nancy.  Responding to Student Writers . Macmillan Higher Education, 2013.

Straub, Richard. “Responding, Really Responding to Other Students’ Writing.” The Subject is Writing: Essays by Teachers and Students. Ed. Wendy Bishop. Boynton/Cook, 1999. Web.

White, Edward M., and Cassie A. Wright.  Assigning, Responding, Evaluating: A Writing Teacher’s Guide . 5th ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015. Print.


  1. 46 Editable Rubric Templates (Word Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  2. 46 Editable Rubric Templates (Word Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  3. 46 Editable Rubric Templates (Word Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  4. 46 Editable Rubric Templates (Word Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  5. Free Printable Oral Presentation Rubric

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  6. Free Printable Writing Rubrics

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  6. How to Assess a Presentation


  1. PDF Research Presentation Rubrics

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

  2. Writing Rubrics [Examples, Best Practices, & Free Templates]

    1. Define Clear Criteria. Identify specific aspects of writing to evaluate. Be clear and precise. The criteria should reflect the key components of the writing task. For example, for a narrative essay, criteria might include plot development, character depth, and use of descriptive language.

  3. Rubric Best Practices, Examples, and Templates

    Use rubrics to assess project-based student work including essays, group projects, creative endeavors, and oral presentations. Rubrics can help instructors communicate expectations to students and assess student work fairly, consistently and efficiently. ... Requires more work for instructors writing feedback. Step 3 (Optional): Look for ...

  4. Creating an Oral Presentation Rubric

    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 ...

  5. PDF Oral Presentation Rubric

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  6. PDF Rubric for Standard Research Talks

    Writing & Communication Center 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. Use the rubric to collect feedback ...

  7. Creating and Using Rubrics

    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 ...

  8. Creating and Using Rubrics

    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. ... Example 3: Anthropology Writing Assignments This rubric was designed for a series of short writing assignments in anthropology (Carnegie Mellon). Example 4: ...

  9. Oral Presentation Rubric

    The rubric allows teachers to assess students in several key areas of oral presentation. Students are scored on a scale of 1-4 in three major areas. The first area is Delivery, which includes eye contact, and voice inflection. The second area, Content/Organization, scores students based on their knowledge and understanding of the topic being ...

  10. Research Presentation Rubric

    The format of research presentations can vary across and within disciplines. Use this rubric (PDF) to identify and assess elements of research presentations, including delivery strategies and slide design. This resource focuses on research presentations but may be useful beyond.

  11. Rubrics

    Example 1: Oral Exam This rubric describes a set of components and standards for assessing performance on an oral exam in an upper-division history course, CMU. Example 2: Oral Communication. Example 3: Group Presentations This rubric describes a set of components and standards for assessing group presentations in a history course, CMU.


    Along with a grade, an overall evaluation follows, with a few major suggestions for improvement. EXCEPTIONAL: A. STRONG: AB. EFFECTIVE: B. DEVELOPING: BC/C. INADEQUATE: D/F. MAJOR CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION. Presentation was excellent overall, shows outstanding control and skill, exceeds expectations in meeting the assignment's requirements.

  13. PDF Rubric for Presentation: PUBH 5900 Graduate Project

    Scoring Rubric for Oral Presentations: Example #1 Author: Testing and Evaluation Services Created Date: 8/10/2017 9:45:03 AM ...

  14. How to Use Rubrics

    3. Create the rating scale. According to Suskie, you will want at least 3 performance levels: for adequate and inadequate performance, at the minimum, and an exemplary level to motivate students to strive for even better work. Rubrics often contain 5 levels, with an additional level between adequate and exemplary and a level between adequate ...

  15. PDF Oral Presentation Rubric

    Oral Presentation Rubric. Holds attention of entire audience with the use of direct eye contact, seldom looking at notes. Consistent use of direct eye contact with audience, but still returns to notes. Displayed minimal eye contact with audience, while reading mostly from the notes. No eye contact with audience, as entire report is read from notes.

  16. How to Create a Rubric in Five Steps (With Examples)

    Step 4: Use the rubric to add objectivity to a subjective grading task. Rubrics are generally used for writing, presentations, and projects. Often these can be some of the most difficult assignments to grade because they are more subjective than a quiz or exam. The rubric is there to help you grade more consistently and accurately.

  17. Rubrics

    Clearly state the purpose of the assessment, which topic(s) learners are being tested on, the type of assessment (e.g., a presentation, essay, group project), the skills they are being tested on (e.g., writing, comprehension, presentation, collaboration), and the goal of the assessment for instructors (e.g., gauging formative or summative understanding of the topic).

  18. Rubric Design

    Writing rubrics can help address the concerns of both faculty and students by making writing assessment more efficient, consistent, and public. ... use and presentation of sources, including visuals; and formatting guidelines such as the requirement of a works cited. Then consider how the criteria will be weighted in grading. Perhaps all ...

  19. PDF Oral Presentation Evaluation Rubric

    Oral Presentation Evaluation Rubric, Formal Setting . PRESENTER: Non-verbal skills (Poise) 5 4 3 2 1 Comfort Relaxed, easy presentation with minimal hesitation Generally comfortable appearance, occasional hesitation Somewhat comfortable appearance, some hesitation Generally uncomfortable, difficulty with flow of presentation Completely

  20. PDF Writing Assessment and Evaluation Rubrics

    Holistic scoring is a quick method of evaluating a composition based on the reader's general impression of the overall quality of the writing—you can generally read a student's composition and assign a score to it in two or three minutes. Holistic scoring is usually based on a scale of 0-4, 0-5, or 0-6.

  21. PDF Rubrics for Assessing Student Writing, Listening, and Speaking

    rubrics may be adapted to any writing or oral presentation in the high school curriculum. They are especially useful for the Glencoe Literature: Reader's Choice program (© 2007). Rubrics for writing assignments run the gamut from responses to literature and biographical narratives to editorials and short stories.

  22. PDF Persuasion Rubric

    Persuasion Rubric Directions: Your assignment will be graded based on this rubric. Consequently, use this rubric as a guide when working on your assignment and check it again before you submit it. Traits 4 3 2 1 Organization The introduction is inviting, states the goal or thesis, and provides an overview of the issue. Information is presented

  23. 46 Editable Rubric Templates (Word Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

    A grading rubric template includes the criteria you will use to assess a specific task. This can be anything from writing a paper to giving an oral presentation, and more. Rubrics permit teachers to convey their expectations to students. You can also use them to track the progress of a student from the start of the task to the end of it.