Assess It! | October 27, 2016

Reflection: “Rubrics: An Undervalued Teaching Tool”

I love rubrics. As an individual who is assessed and who is assessing others, I find them helpful on both fronts. As a student, rubrics make the grading process more transparent by acting as a kind of road map. They outline each twist and turn the instructor has taken on his or her course of assigning my final grade. When assessing others, rubrics help clarify grading criteria while also speeding up the grading process.


This is why I was excited to blog about a recent article I read on Faculty Focus, “Rubrics: An Undervalued Teaching Tool.” Rather than lay out the wonderful benefits of rubrics (of which there are many), the writer, Dr. Stephanie Almagno, outlines creative ways to use rubrics throughout the writing process that engages students.

  1. At the very beginning, hand out the rubric when introducing an assignment. Encourage students to interact with the rubric to help them brainstorm initial ideas for their paper/project.
  2. Use the rubric for peer review during the drafting process. Students can respond to each other’s work throughout all of the writing stages in order to make adjustments.
  3. Use the rubric for teacher feedback during the revision process. Instructors can use the rubric as a way to communicate with the student about what is and is not working. This is not for grading purposes, but for a way to encourage students to continuously edit their work. Producing multiple drafts gives students the time to develop their ideas and learn to be good editors.
  4. Create mini-lessons using the data collected from the rubric. Look at the rubric and see where the greatest number of students performed poorly. Prepare mini-lessons to refresh or reteach the skills in the weakest categories.
  5. Include students in the final grading process. When students submit their papers/projects, have them score themselves and submit that rubric as well. Instructors respond to the assignment on the same rubric. If the student and instructor issue very different scores, then a quick in-class meeting can be set up. This process allows students the opportunity to assess their own strengths and areas of improvement and in turn, will help increase their investment in the grading process.

Through this process, according to Dr. Almago, “students gain greater independence as writers and thinkers.” In acting as both author and editor, students increase their familiarity with the writing process.

Creating a well thought-out, comprehensive rubric takes work; but the effort is worth it. Rubrics, when used correctly, have a number of benefits. They have been shown to help students become more aware of their learning process and progress, improve student performance, and help instructors quickly and consistently assess assignments from student to student.

Want more information on rubrics? Head on over to the Office of Assessment’s website to learn more about them!

Almagno, S. (2016) Rubrics: An undervalued teaching tool. Faculty Focus


Make sure to stop by the Office of Assessment’s upcoming event, “Assessing non-academic programs,” to be held on November 9th in the Charlotte Frank Classroom (1203 HE). Come hungry and ready to learn!


One Response to Reflection: “Rubrics: An Undervalued Teaching Tool”

  1. David R. dos Santos (she/her/sie) November 7, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    Thanks so much for this post, Nikki. You’ve given me some really good ideas for how I can get more out of the rubrics I’m using.

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