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What is a rubric?

A rubric is an assessment tool designed to outline the expectations for achievement. It is usually explicitly designed to support as well as to evaluate student learning.

Development and use of rubrics operates across assessment design, communication, marking, analysis and feedback experience.

Rubrics will help you:

  • Increase Efficiency – Rubrics are built into the grading workflow and the click-and-score simplicity saves you time.
  • Provide Consistent and Quality Feedback – Rubrics enable educators to provide consistent evaluation and contextual feedback to students.

Student assessment activity

In the first instance, students read the required assessment activity and the assessment rubric to determine what they need to do and at what standard. The assessment task provides the context for achievement.

The rubric will identify specific criteria, levels of achievement and descriptors thus allowing the student to better plan their approach to the task. The increased transparency can have the effect of ensuring the student is able to work more independently and identify all expected evidence they will need to provide to successfully engage with the task.

Evaluating assessment submissions

Secondly, the rubric is used to help assessors focus on the expected standards and maintain a measure of consistency and objectivity. In this phase too, where moderation of student work often occurs, it means that groups of assessors can test the consistency of their judgments against the criteria. Rubrics are not about diminishing the on-balance professional judgment of the assessor, but rather a tool for explicitly articulating the elements to be assessed.


Finally, the rubric provides a framework by which the student can reflect on their work and the assessor’s comments to review the strengths and deficiencies of the work.

What does a rubric look like?

The rubric will generally have 5-10 rows. Each row will focus on a specific assessment criterion and describe the required evidence at each level of achievement. Descriptors are generally more qualitative than quantitive, especially for higher order outcomes, but may include specific quantitative details as discriminators.

The descriptors should clearly distinguish the evidence or behaviours necessary for that level of achievement as distinct from the neighbouring levels of achievement. If more than one behaviour is described for that criterion the student must meet all of the behaviours for that level otherwise the level below should be selected.

While it is possible to generate very complicated and detailed lists of evidence that might allow a more granular distinction the reality is they will more than likely confuse everyone involved. The different bands of achievement are intended to support an assessor’s professional judgment.

Electronic marking workflow

As outlined in Standards 1 and 6 the preferred workflow for assessments is electronic When Curtin upgraded to Blackboard 9.1 one of the new features that was enabled was the ability to use rubrics that directly integrate with the Assignment Manager and Grade Centre.

The tool allows the creation of reusable and shareable rubrics that operate directly within the Assignment Manager to allow assessors to evaluate work directly within the Blackboard environment. The tool can streamline grading and allows assessors to automatically score the criteria and provide feedback in context.

More guidance on the use of Rubrics in Blackboard 9.1 can be located in Blackboard Help or Blackboard OnDemand.

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