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Best Practices | Rubrics


A Rubric is a tool that lists evaluation criteria for a particular assignment (i.e., paper, discussion or blog post, wiki, etc.). The Rubric exists as a sort of contract between the instructor and students that outlines expectations on both sides. Instructors can employ rubrics to explain their evaluation methodology to students, and students can work effectively toward meeting the requirements of an assignment. Rubrics should both develop and maintain a sense of objectivity in assessment. In the absence of objectivity, students might feel that they are not being graded fairly. Further, Rubrics should avoid punitive language and strive for transparency in expectations for students.


From a practical standpoint, Rubrics are traditionally made up of rows and columns. The rows correspond to the various criteria of an assignment (e.g., analysis, format, content, mechanics, etc.). The columns correspond to the level of achievement expressed for each criterion (i.e., met, somewhat met, not met). A description and point value for each cell in the rubric defines the evaluation and score of an assignment.


In Practice

Holistic Rubrics are the most general and are very similar to learning scales. It lists three to five levels of performance along with a broad description of the characteristics that define each level.


Example of a holistic rubric


Analytic Rubrics breaks down the characteristics of an assignment into parts, allowing the scorer to itemize and define exactly what aspects are strong, and which ones need improvement.


Example of an analytic rubric


Single-Point Rubrics are a lot like an analytic rubric, because it breaks down the components of an assignment into different criteria, but it only describes the criteria for proficiency. It does not attempt to list all the ways a student could fall short, nor does it specify how a student could exceed expectations.


Example of a single-point rubric


Additional Resources

If you are looking for some ideas or help building a rubric for your course, there are some free online tools where you can build a rubric or find existing rubrics.

Canvas Guides

Check out the following links for information on how to add rubrics to your course in Canvas.

You may also be able to find an existing rubric in Canvas Commons that you can import into your course.



Gonzalez, J. (2014). Know Your Terms: Holistic, Analytic, and Single-Point Rubrics. Retrieved 22 August 2016, from