[Tip for Educators] Designing Rubrics for Assessment

Learning is measured to estimate and minimize the gap between ‘learned’ and ‘not learned’. 

This gap is what determines the learner performance and defines success among them. To understand and develop such capacities, it is important to define and create valid rubrics for assessments. Assessments without rubrics is just like travel without destination.   Rubrics are as important as the assessments. Designing rubrics requires a complete preview to the learning outcomes. This article is an insight into how such rubrics can be developed for any type of assessments.

To begin with it is important to identify the types of assessment methods.  Generally they can be classified to

  •         Oral
  •         Written
  •         Technical
  •         Creative

The assessment guidelines are statements which allows probing into the assessment outcomes. 


Assessment type

Assessment guidelines for building rubrics


Talk shows – Debates, discussions, JAMs, Mock works, Drama, Role-plays, etc.,

  1.       What do you expect from the topic?
  2.       Does it require learner presentation appropriately?
  3.       Does it require behaviour presentation?
  4.       Does it require emotional control
  5.       Does it require ethical view?


Written – Compositions, Letters, Dialogues, Articles, Projects, Research work etc.,

  1.       What are the guidelines for writing?
  2.       What type of writing is preferred?
  3.       What ideas do you expect in the writing?
  4.       How to check plagiarism?
  5.       What skill emphasis need to be laid down?


Creative – Collage, poetry, Slogan writing, Critical reviews, Cartooning, painting, music etc.,

  1.       Relevancy to the topic in hand.
  2.       Appropriate use of words or colours
  3.       Message promoted
  4.       Check on plagiarism
  5.       Uniqueness of the work


Technical – LMS, Apps, Presentations, Online works, Collaboration, Social media works etc.,

  1.       Type of work allocated
  2.       Type of performance level expected
  3.       Setting as per the technology opted
  4.       Competency development
  5.       Behaviour online


The guidelines are characteristics on what is the larger idea for the work that is incorporated into the assessments.  Once this is designed, it is important for the next level of setting, which is relevant for the subject and topic under consideration.  Rubric designs are based on the assessment specifications which can be based on four major categories of grading.  Grading preferably can be 4 - 6 for a better understanding of performance.  More the number of grades, specifics and overlaps are prominent and less number of grades categorisation becomes difficult.




Specifications(minimum 5 – 6 to be provided in the rubrics design)




Not attempted or no productive work done




Complied to any one of the specifications




Complied to any two of the specifications




Complied to any three of the specifications




Complied to 4 or above as per the specifications

Rubric designing depends on the work done and the subject for which the said is constructed.  The flow of the content must have definite citations for further work and analysis.  The major flow of subject can be designed as follows to stream line the specifics for the rubrics.  All assessments need not carry rubrics.  The assessment designed with rubrics ensures the outcomes with criteria for analysis.


Design of Rubrics is mainly subject and task based.


Rubrics should finally give the total picture on gradations of student performance.  Some of the basic guidelines for design of rubrics can be obtained from the Carnegie Mellon University website.  The rubrics built should encompass the totality of the work done, step wise procedures that needs to be done for the given task, and the process through which the outcome has been achieved.  The basic format for design of such rubrics can be done as follows.


The learning outcome and possible feedback relies upon the rubric design.  It is observable that without the right design of rubrics, analysis and feedback becomes controversial.  Without the right feedback, learner growth and performance becomes a large question.  Aim to achieve the learning and learning gap is what we need to focus while developing rubrics.  Assessments for and of learning enhances and brings out the best when directed towards better outcomes.

About the Author
I work as Academic Coordinator at Nalanda Educational Institutions, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. Worked in implementing Technology supportive curriculum in our organisation. Trainer and Curriculum designer for technology based Curriculum.

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