Monday, January 14, 2013

The Joy of Rubrics

Creating rubrics can be a daunting task. Whether you're new to the task or experiences, the hardest part is just getting past the bank page. Not knowing exactly where to start, you might begin by creating a table for all your criteria and performance levels. Great! You have a nice matrix form. But now you have to fill in the criteria and performance levels on the chart. Ugh.

OK, let's start with the easy stuff — performance levels. So you might enter something like:
  • Poor | Fair | Good | Exemplary
  • Unacceptable | Approaches expectations | Meets expectations | Exceeds expectations
  • F | D | C | B | A
Or you might just stick to point values, a la:
  • 0-25 points | 26-45 points | 46-65 points | 65-85 points | 86-100 points

Whew! That part's done!

Now, on to the criteria. This is harder and is, of course, more dependent on the subject. You may have a couple things ready to write down, but I've found that it helps to see how others do these things. So I recommend going to

This site will allow you to construct a matrix style rubric using some preconstructed options. It's free, and you will be able to download whatever rubric you construct as an Excel spreadsheet.

You don't have to log in to use this site. Scroll down to "Create a Rubric" and choose a topic. All the choices will appear when you do, as you'll see. Click on any of them.

At this stage you have to enter something in the blanks First Name and Last Name can be just initials if you want. Give your rubric a name, then enter your zip code. You won't need to store this rubric online, so leave the drop down menu asking "Demonstration Rubric?" as it is.

Finally you get to a blank matrix style rubric form. The numbers 4, 3, 2, 1 are default performance levels, but you can change them later if you want.

In the Category column you'll see some pull-down menus. Click the first one to see your grading criteria options. At this point you should be feeling relief and happiness. Pick a criteria and see what happens. (The sight of the performance descriptions being filled may cause you to feel downright euphoric). Continue down the category column and pick the rest of your of grading criteria.

A word about these performance descriptions

These Rubistar rubrics were designed for K-12, and these performance descriptions will not be exactly what you need for higher education. So, you can edit them right there on the screen, or you can wait and edit them after you've downloaded the Excel version of this rubric. I recommend waiting until you download because then you have a hard copy and will be less likely to lose your work.

After you have the whole rubric filled in, click the "Submit" arrow button at the bottom of the page. Skip the instructions at the top of the next page and just go straight to the bottom to find the "Print or Download" button. Click it. Then choose "Download Excel Spreadsheet" from the options provided.

Open your downloaded rubric in Excel and edit to your heart's content.

(You may want to go back and explore the other rubric options you didn't use. I've been known to pull criteria out of one and apply it to another. E.g., if the assignment is a group Research Report, you might want to add a criteria or two from the Collaborative Work Skills option).

To continue your journey into rubric fun, see how you can speed up grading time for online assignments and discussions in your online course. Download this Help Sheet to see how to apply your rubric directly to an assignment on eCampus.

Sample rubrics on the Internet are plentiful, so explore and get some ideas from others. Here's a list from the University of Wisconsin Stout that are specifically for online assessments:

Explore! And have fun making your next rubric!

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