Grading Rubrics

Academic rubrics (from rubrica, meaning column) are considered a best instructional practice for a variety of reasons, here are a few:

  • Rubrics communicate clearly to students, teachers and marking staff the basis for an assessment, qualitatively (in descriptive language), quantitatively (a numerical score) and visually (a table)
  • Where teams of assessors, e.g. teaching assistants are involved, rubrics establish the weighting for each portion of the assignment, and a clear description for the complex subjective process.  Occasionally a portion of the rubric is assigned to the student, for self assessment.
  • Rubrics organize the evaluation and assessment in a visual, easy to understand grid (rows and columns) [Google search rubric images]
  • Rubrics target explicit outcomes for an assignment.   If shared with students at the outset, the rubric helps students achieve those outcomes simply by being clear what's expected.  Providing exemplars, or examples of previous student work with their rubric assessments, can further make this clear to everyone. 
  • More information: [Carnegie Mellon on rubrics] [Wikipedia on rubrics]


The Blackboard Learning Portal has a wide variety of instructional features intended to support best practices in instructional design (online and in class).  The rubric creator allows you to establish marking rubrics in relation to online assignments, i.e. assignments where students submit their work through Blackboard.

You may wish to familiarize yourself with Digital Submission and Feedback before proceeding to set up rubrics.

Here's a screen shot of the tool in action ---


Rubric Setup

At the time of writing, these are the possible settings in section 3 of the Assessment > Assignment Tool.  You can circulate rubrics among instructional staff, share them with students before grading, after grading, or not at all.   You can also base a new rubric on a previously authored one using the 'copy a rubric' feature described at this link.

For more on implementing rubrics within the Blackboard Learning Portal Assessments > Assignment submission tool, contact Brian Sutherland and Adon Irani at for assistance.



DePaul University, Chicago:  Learning Commons Rubric Web Site

Carnegie-Mellon, Eberly Center Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation: Grading and Performance Rubrics Web Site

Elgie, S., Childs, R., Fenton, N., Levy, B. A., Lopes, V., Szala-Meneok, K., & Wiggers, R. D.
(2012). Researching Teaching and Student Outcomes in Postsecondary Education: A Guide.  Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education at the American Association of Colleges and Universities.  16 best practice rubrics for a variety of assignment situations