Assessment of student progress

Rubrics are very useful for teacher assessment or student self-assessment. They evaluate a student’s performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score. The criteria are logically linked to the outcomes intended for a learning activity. For example, with a small-group discussion format, a teacher may intend for students to demonstrate “new knowledge” and “use of effective communication styles,” and a rubric can help assess progress in these areas. Creating or adapting a rubric requires a teacher to be clear on his or her objectives. When developed with students or shared with them beforehand, rubrics can clarify for the students what is expected of them. All rubrics contain three common features11:

  1. They focus on measuring a stated objective (e.g., performance, behaviour, or quality). Example: Role play a situation that portrays peer influence.
  2. They use a range of logically linked criteria to rate performance. Examples of criteria for role playing: Clarity of speech; expression of feeling; use of body language; believability of the role; accuracy of the role.
  3. They contain specific performance characteristics, often arranged in four levels indicating the degree to which a standard has been met. Example: Demonstrated complete/strong/adequate/weak accuracy of the role.

Advantages to using rubrics
  • Teachers can increase the quality of their direct instruction by providing focus, emphasis, and attention to particular details to direct student learning.
  • Students have explicit guidelines regarding teacher expectations.
  • Students can use rubrics as a tool to develop their abilities.
  • Teachers can reuse or slightly modify an established rubric for many activities.

Steps in creating and using a rubric13
  • Determine the concepts to be taught. What are the essential learning objectives?
  • Choose the criteria to be evaluated. Name the evidence to be produced.
  • Develop a grid. Plug in the criteria and performance levels.
  • Share the rubric with students before they begin writing.
  • Evaluate the end product. Compare individual students’ work with the rubric to determine whether they have mastered the content.

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11. Adapted from the Kennesaw (Georgia) State University’s Education Technology Center’s Intech technology professional development program’s description of rubrics (
12. From The Advantages of Rubrics, a_rubric.
13. From Create an Original Rubric.
14. The rubrics presented were adapted from samples provided in the Rubistar section of the site provided by Advanced Learning Technologies in Education Consortia (ALTEC), hosted by the University of Kansas,