5 Features of a Highly Effective Rubric

Every educator knows that a big part of teaching is assigning grades to student projects. And it can be tricky. Sometimes, grading seems more like a random process than an objective assessment of work. If you want to make grading more standardized in your classroom, consider using a self-designed rubric to assess how well your students' work measures up to a standard.

Rubrics are easy to make and very effective when used correctly. If you want to know what to do to make a good rubric, read over the following five qualities that every successful rubric has. You'll learn how to construct a solid rubric that will make grading simple and objective.

1.) Clearly delineated points

Every good rubric contains four or five main components that you are looking for in a project. These points can be one word or a whole sentence; it doesn't matter as long as they are understandable. For example, if you're grading an oral presentation, you may want one of your points to be "composure." In this category, you would rate things like how well the student magnifies his or her voice and maintains eye contact. Another point could be longer, like "how well is the argument presented." Under that heading, you would include things like evidence, commentary and analysis of research.

2.) Subcategories that relate to main points

You can't grade someone based on one-word categories alone. Therefore, in each category you should include descriptions of specific things that you are looking for. Let's take the above example of an oral report; under the "composure" category, you could include a few key subcategories like "appears comfortable talking to an audience" and "consistently makes eye contact." Each of these subcategories will be what you are grading, so make sure they are precise enough to rate for every student.

3.) 100 total points

It's easier for you if you make your projects out of 100 points. When you're assigning point values for each category, keep this in mind.

4.) Total points per section with breakdowns in subsections

Go through your rubric's main components and assign point values to each. Then, break up these points and distribute them among the subcomponents you've listed for each main part. Make sure you assign points based on what's most important; for example, you may give "composure" only 15 total points to be broken among three subcomponents. "How well the argument is presented," on the other hand, is more important. It may have 50 total points to be distributed among six subcomponents.

5.) Include room for comments

A rubric is a great way to determine a grade, but a grade is just a number if you don't explain why it was assigned. Using a rubric should make it easy to tell why a student gets the grade he or she does--after all, the parts where students miss points will be obvious. But it always helps to write a few closing words at the end of your rubric. This lets the student know he or she did a good job or explains in more detail what needs to be improved. This personalized touch will make the student feel better about the final grade too.

If your rubric contains all of the above five components, then it should be effective. If it doesn't contain these elements, try to incorporate them with a quick revision. A properly composed rubric will make the grading process easier and fairer. You'll appreciate the effort and your students will too.


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Learn All About Rubrics

  1. 10 Uses for Rubrics You Never Thought Of
  2. 5 Features of a Highly Effective Rubric
  3. How Rubrics Make Elementary Teachers Day Easy!
  4. How Rubrics Make Middle School and High School Teachers Day Easy!
  5. How Rubrics Make Scoring Quick And Easy
  6. How to Create an Outline for a Rubric
  7. How to Make a Rubric in Less Than 5 Minutes
  8. How to Tell If Your Rubric Works?
  9. Students Grading Themselves? - Rubrics Can Change Everything
  10. The Pros and Cons of Using Rubrics
  11. Why Rubrics?