Rubrics are a powerful feedback and communication tool in the online classroom. Rubrics, which are made up of a set of descriptive assessment criteria and performance levels, clearly outline the essential components of an assignment and show students how they are being assessed. Instructors can use well designed rubrics as a tool to identify weak points in their instruction, and in the online classroom, rubrics provide a means for consistent, fast grading and feedback.
Best Practices and Instructional Resources
This short guide will outline the best practices associated with online rubrics. For additional resources, see the Research and Further Reading list below and visit our toolbox. For instructional design consultation and recommendations on how to implement rubrics in your online course using Canvas, please attend our UFIT workshop: The Power of Rubrics in Canvas.
- Remember that language is very important; use constructive, objective and specific language when establishing and differentiating performance level criteria, and avoid imprecise or negative language.
- For example, excellent, good, acceptable, and needs improvement make use of constructive and positive language.
- Pick only the most important 5-8 components of the assignment that you wish to provide feedback on.
- Use performance levels to document accomplishment and coach for improvement, not to focus on errors.
- Provide rubric ahead of time for students to self-evaluate.
If you plan to create and use a rubric for grading in your LMS, begin with the resources below:
- Durfee, A.W. (2010). How rubrics help students learn. The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 28.
- Griffin, M. (2009). What is a rubric? Assessment update: Progress, Trends and Practices in Higher Education, 21(6), Association of American Colleges and Universities, p. 4.
- Howell, R.J. (2011). Exploring the impact of grading rubrics on academic performance: Findings from a quasi-experimental, pre-post evaluation. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 22 (2), 31-49.
- Reddy, Y.M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluations in Higher Education, 35(4), July, 435–448.
- Roblyer, M. D., & Wiencke, W. R. (2003). Design and use of a rubric to assess and encourage interactive qualities in distance courses. American Journal of Distance Education, 17(2), 77-98. doi:10.1207/S15389286AJDE1702_2
- Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. (2005). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub.
- Carnegie Mellon Eberly Center: Grading and Performance Rubrics
- Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Texas: Rubrics
- Institutional Assessment & Studies at the University of Virginia
- Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence
- University of Hawaii Manoa: Creating and Using Rubrics
Keep accessibility in mind as you develop course content and build assignments and assessments. Many online tools are not fully accessible, so it’s important to think about how you will make the assignment accessible if requested. The Disability Resource Center and the UF Accessibility page will guide you in making appropriate accommodations. You can also find out more about accessibility at our toolbox page on Accessibility in the Online Classroom.