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Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning FAQs About Rubrics

What is a rubric?

A rubric is a scoring tool that provides a detailed description of the criteria that faculty and other assessors agree constitutes acceptable levels of student performance. Using rubrics helps faculty create shared standards for student learning assessment. Shared standards are not the same as standardization.

What is a program rubric and how does it differ from a rubric used to grade an assignment?

Program rubrics are scoring guides that provide descriptions of the criteria that specify acceptable levels of student performance throughout a curriculum or program of study. While often less detailed than rubrics for assessing assignments, program rubrics allow for assessment of students’ progress toward program’s student learning outcomes.

Why use a rubric?

A well-designed rubric allows faculty to rate student performance quickly and consistently, while potentially providing rich data for programs and assessment committees. A rubric breaks down skills and knowledge into individual dimensions, outlines levels of achievement with descriptors, and provides a consistent rating scale. It also puts faculty expertise and judgment at the center of the assessment, and, when shared with students, clarifies expectations.

Where can my program get help developing or refining a rubric?

For assistance on developing or refining a program rubric, contact the ATL assessment specialist for your college/area.

Why use numeric scoring?

Rubrics do not necessarily need to include numeric scoring. However, using a numeric scoring system allows assessment data to be tracked and expressed in graphical form over the years, providing evidence for program improvement. Results can be expressed in more discrete ways, helping to create reliability between raters and to validate rating tools.

How can inconsistent scores amongst faculty using the same rubric be addressed?

Norming on student work for assessment may improve consistency of scores. Norming, or calibration, is the process by which a group of faculty raters come together to decide how to assess student work in a consistent way, so that regardless of which rater assesses the work, the rating falls within a close range. ATL assessment specialists are available to facilitate this process.


For additional information on rubrics and best practices for their use in program assessment, contact an ATL assessment specialist.

Washington State University