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Educational Technology and Assessment

Rubric Tutorial

Creating a Rubric: Tutorial


This tutorial will guide you through the basic steps to create a grading rubric for evaluating student performances. In this tutorial we will cover the following topics:

  • What is a Rubric?
  • Why use a Rubric?
  • Steps to Create a Rubric

At the end of the tutorial you will find a series of templates you can use for your own grading rubrics. They were created using Microsoft Word, and can be modified to meet your needs. Should you have any questions about this tutorial, or would like additional information about the use of grading rubrics, please contact

What is a Rubric?

In education, rubrics are a tool developed by instructors to assess the performances of their students. This assessment tool lists the dimensions (tasks) of the performance to be evaluated, and the specific criteria used to evaluate each dimension. It is different than a simple checklist since it also describes the gradations of quality (levels) for each dimension of the performance to be evaluated, and assigns a point value to each gradation of quality. 

An example of a template for a rubric with 4 dimensions and 3 levels of quality:

  Lowest Quality (1pt) Average Quality (2pts) Best Quality (3pts)
1 Dimension/Task      
2 Dimension/Task      
3 Dimension/Task      
4 Dimension/Task      

Why use a Rubric?

Rubrics are typically used with assessments that are subjective (presentations, papers, discussions, portfolios, essays, projects) rather than objective assessments (multiple choice, true/false or fill-in-the-blank tests.)

Rubrics are used for many reasons, some of which include:

  • Rubrics make the instructor’s expectations clear to the students
  • Rubrics show students how to meet the instructor’s expectations i.e. what they need to do to be successful
  • Rubrics help students evaluate the quality of their own work
  • Rubrics identify the specific elements an instructor uses to differentiate between the qualities of performances. i.e. it helps the student answer the question ‘why did I get a point taken off?’
  • If more than one person is evaluating the performance, it improves the consistency and objectivity (standardization) of grading
  • It may reduce the time it takes to grade if there are similarities among comments made to students regarding flaws or excellence in a performance

How to Create a Rubric

Creating a rubric is easy once you have taken to time to evaluate the dimensions/tasks which make up the students performance, and the criterion you will use to evaluate it. That being said, let’s begin with the steps to create a rubric.*

The steps to create a rubric are listed in sequential order, however they can be performed in any order as long as the rubric contains the following:

  • Performance Objective 
  • List of dimensions to be evaluated
  • Levels of gradation of quality
  • Criterion and points for each level of quality

We have divided the task of creating a grading rubric into 6 steps:

  1. Record the performance objective
  2. Identify the dimensions/tasks comprising the performance
  3. Identify the potential gradations of quality
  4. Assign a point value to each gradation, and a total point value for the assessment
  5. Identify the criteria for each level of quality within a dimension/task
  6. Create the rubric table
  • Record/write the performance objective.

    Performance Objectives (also known as learning objectives) are statements which identify the specific knowledge, skill, or attitude the learner should gain and display as a result of the instructional activity.

    Performance objectives should consist of 3 elements: 

    • Student Performance
    • Conditions
    • Criteria

    The Student performance is the observable behavior that a student will do to demonstrate that the lesson is learned. The conditions are the tools, resources and enviroment where the performance will take place. The criteria is the accuracy level assigned to the performance. As mentioned above, the rubric is the written document communicating the criteria to the student.

    Below is an example of a performance statement without the criteria. (The criteria will be written in the form of a rubric.) 


    Project 1 Objective: Given a choice of a public health topic, Excel software, access to the USF library and internet, create the research question, present proposed sources for literature review, identify the objectives, identify the proposed methods, present a discussion of the proposed results, and present a suggested conclusion.

    Total points achievable for this project: 21 points.

    You do not have to list the conditions for the student when writing the performance statement. However, if you identify them when you are creating your course it will help you preplan the resources you may need to generate for this performance.

  • Identify the dimensions/tasks comprising the performance.

    Step 2: Identify the dimensions/tasks comprising the performance. 
    Dimensions are the broad concepts or specific tasks the student should demonstrate when performing the activity. Dimensions can be specific tasks or they can address a variety of intellectual or cognitive competencies that target a specific academic discipline or involve multiple disciplines. The dimensions you use may also be defined by National Standards, degreed programs, or job-related competencies.

    Examples of dimensions for a group exercise analyzing a case study may include: 

    • Contribute to the group discussion
    • Take responsibility for required work
    • Value others viewpoints
    • Analyze the study cooperatively
    • Present the outcome in a given format

    Here are a few more examples:
    Example of dimensions which are specific tasks for a written project 
    Example of dimensions which are broad concepts for an online discussion
    Example of dimensions which are broad concepts and tasks for a presentation 

    How many dimensions are enough? There is not clear answer. Try to fit the rubric on 1-2 pages. You will notice our examples have between 4-8 dimensions/tasks.
  • Identify the potential gradations of quality.

    Gradations are the descriptive levels of quality starting with the worst quality up to the best quality.

    • Example of a 3 level gradation: poor, average, excellent
    • Example of a 4 level gradation: beginning, developing, accomplished, exemplary
    • Example of a 5 level gradation: poor, fair, average, very good, excellent

    The gradations of quality may or may not be listed on the actual rubric. You can have different gradations for the dimensions listed, but this may be confusing to the student.

  • Assign a point value to each gradation, and a total point value for the assessment.

    Assign a point value to each gradation of quality, and identify the total point value for the assessment.

    If you already know the total number of points for this assessment... 
    Divide the total number of points by the number of dimensions to get the maximum point value for achieving the highest gradation for a dimension. For example, if the assessment is worth 15 points, and there are 5 dimensions, the highest gradation will be worth 3 points. Each gradation below this highest level should be valued at less than the 3 points.

    If you do not have a total number of points for this assessment...
    Identify the maximum number of points for achieving the highest level of quality. Assign a number to each of the lower levels of quality. Typically, the gradations are in increments of 1 point. Multiply the maximum point value by the total number of dimensions. This is the total point value for the assessment. For example, if you have 3 levels (poor, average, excellent) the highest level is worth 3 points, the middle level is worth 2 points and the lowest level is worth 1 point. If there are 7 dimensions, the total point value for this assessment is 21 points.

    See an example of a rubric with points assigned to the 3 levels of quality

    Although most rubrics have at least 1 point for the lowest value, you can have a zero for the lowest gradation.

  • Identify the criteria for each level of quality within a dimension/task.

    Start with the best quality of each dimension. Simply list the specific expectations you have for the student. Then, for each level below the best quality, identify the flaws or missing elements which will cause the student to lose points off the best quality performance.

    View a rubric with criteria for a written research proposal project
    View a rubric with criteria for an online discussion
    View a rubric with criteria for an oral presentation

    Avoid negative language when listing the criteria. Instead try to identify the specific criteria which is missing, or flaw so they know why they were assessed with a lower quality performance.

  • Create the rubric table.

    Your rubric will be a table. Each dimension should be in a separate row, and each gradation of quality should be in a separate column. Provide a place at the top of the rubric for your performance statement, an extra row for the header, and a column on the left to list the dimensions. If you plan to use this rubric as a method of feedback to the students. Create an additional column on the right side of the page where you can place the point values earned for each dimension. We have created a few templates as a starting point.

    Download a template with 3 gradations of quality
    Download a template with 4 gradations of quality
    Download a template with 5 gradations of quality

    Note: You can modify these templates to meet your needs.

    You do not have to list the descriptive words for each quality degradation, only the points they will earn if they meet this level of quality.