Teaching Tips Components of a Rubric

Rubrics are widely used at universities to measure student outcomes on a level playing field.  Using rubrics makes grading easier for professors and makes assignments clearer for students. Click here to view a sample rubric.

Formulated from assignments from within the syllabus, the rubric can act as a guide.  It divides the task into component parts and clearly states the grading procedure.  Points are earned for the completion each section.  The most points are awarded for satisfying the highest objective. Total points vary depending on what the value given to each section. This is much more reliable that receiving an arbitrary grade.

Most rubrics are available electronically and many students download it into Word to use as their guide while completing the assignment.  Professors require the rubric to be attached to the final work; or, handing the rubric over prior to a presentation for scoring.

The four components are:

A task description-

This is the instructions of the assignment which is usually located in the first section.  This helps to keep the student on task and the professor reminded of the assignment.  The instructions range from completing poster boards, papers or presentations.  It is some type of performance required by the student.

Task dimensions-

Dimensions consist of skills, knowledge, and behavior demonstrated.   The dimensions of a rubric lay out the parts of the task simply and completely.  It can breakdown the components to reveal which ones are the most important. 

A performance scale-

Generic rubrics use levels of mastery that ranging from mastery, partial mastering, progressing or emerging.  In more sophisticated rubrics, the performance scale can describe exactly what criteria the assignment is looking for.  An example would be citing four references for your research.  The scale would range from 0-4.

Description of the dimensions-

Specific instructions are written for the student to follow for each level.  For example: A writing rubric’s criterion is that the thesis is clearly stated.  The components would range from no thesis to limited thesis to some thesis to clear thesis.  This component states the expected student performance. 

These are the basic components but some have a fifth which allows instructors to leave comments for the students in ways to improve the next assignment.  This is usually with writing rubrics.  Elementary and high schoolrubrics may only have three components to accommodate the grade level. 

Rubrics save time due to the ease in grading for educators.  For students they inspire higher level thinking, better organization skills and of course, better grades. Rubrics are an excellent tool for both student and educator