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EIU Office of Student Affairs Assessment

What are rubrics?

Rubrics are a multidimensional tool.  They articulate the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria, or what counts, and describing levels of quality.

Why use rubrics?

Rubrics are a great tool to measure learning or provide feedback in situations where you are observing something, or evaluating an artifact.  Often times in these situations the review or critiques can be subjective, which makes evaluation and assessment difficult.  Rubrics are a tool that can help us have a more objective evaluation of performance or artifacts.  Rubrics can also be helpful in out-of-classroom experiences such as service learning, career preparation, student employee/paraprofessional training and health/wellness.

Steps to Using Rubrics

Consider the following steps while creating a rubric.

  1. Articulate the outcome being assessed.
  2. Determine where/when the rubric will be used
  3. List the dimensions students should demonstrate to achieve the outcome.
  4. Search for a pre-written rubric.
  5. If no existing rubric exists to fit your needs, you can create your own by first choosing a rubric model:
    • Structured Observation Guide
      • The same as a checklist, it identifies dimensions without providing a rating scale.
    • Holistic Rubric
      • Holistic rubrics are used to make a single, more global judgment about a student’s achievement, performance, or mastery – they only receive one rating score.
      • Advantage: This saves time by minimizing number of things raters have to consider.
      • Disadvantage: This doesn’t give specific feedback, criteria cannot be weighed, when student performance varies on different areas of focus, can be difficult to select the single best description.
    • Rating Scale Rubric
      • A rubric that identifies expected dimensions of an activity and the levels of achievement, performance, or mastery along those dimensions – but doesn’t include a description for each level (example: your passes hit the target every time with 100% accuracy).
    • Analytic Rubric
      • A rubric that includes a brief description of the skill you want a student to demonstrate at each level for each dimension.

   6. Next, define the levels of achievement, performance, or mastery – e.g., excellent, good, acceptable,
       needs improvement and then include the descriptions of what makes up each category.

   7. Pilot the rubric.

   8. Revise the rubric as needed.

Train Rubric Raters 

Training rubric raters is important.  One of the benefits of a rubric is they provide the benefit of greater objectivity during evaluation.  However, if the rubric raters are not rating consistently, we lose the benefit of objectivity.  Follow the steps below to train your rubric raters in using rubrics.

  1. Gather all raters for a training session
  2. Allow time for each rater to review the work and individually rate it on the rubric
  3. For each sample work, compare scores, discuss differences in scores to identify discrepancies in ratings, and come to an agreement on any discrepancies that may exist.
  4. Adjust the rubric as needed.
  5. Repeat the training until all raters are using the rubric consistently. 

(Adapted from: Yousey-Elsener, D. K. (2013). Successful Assessment for Student Affairs: A How-To Guide. Little Falls, NJ: PaperClip Communications.)


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Student Affairs Assessment

Fax: 217-581-8330

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