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Understanding marking rubrics

This resource reviews what marking rubrics are and how they can be used throughout the assessment process.

What is a marking rubric?

A marking rubric sets out the criteria for marking an assessment. It enables your work to be marked against these criteria, and allows your tutor to mark all of the assignments consistently and give you clear feedback on where and how you can improve your work. Rubrics are usually presented in the form of a matrix that includes the marking criteria and grading standards. They vary in complexity from highly detailed requirements to simple tables. They can be used for a variety of assignments such as essays, oral presentations, reports and many more.

Some examples of areas that rubrics usually focus on are:

  • Content. For example, the assessment includes information from a wide range of resources.
  • Structure. For example, the assessment has a clear introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Presentation. For example, the assessment is formatted appropriately.
  • Critical thinking/analysis. For example, the assessment explains how or why this information is relevant.
EXAMPLE

Below is a sample of a rubric used for an oral presentation. The two criteria included are organisation (structure) and language (presentation).

 High DistinctionDistinctionCreditPass
Organisation

Organisational pattern (specific introduction and conclusion, sequenced material within the body and transitions) is clearly and consistently observable and is skillful and makes the content of the presentation cohesive.

Organisational pattern (specific introduction and conclusion, sequenced material within the body and transitions) is clearly and consistently observable within the presentation.

Organisational pattern (specific introduction and conclusion, sequenced material within the body and transitions) is intermittently observable within the presentation.

Organisational pattern (specific introduction and conclusion, sequenced material within the body, and transitions) is not observable within the presentation.

Language

Language choices are imaginative, memorable, and compelling and enhance the effectiveness of the presentation. Language in presentation is appropriate to audience.

Language choices are thoughtful and generally support the effectiveness of the presentation. Language in presentation is appropriate to audience.

Language choices are mundane and commonplace and partially support the effectiveness of the presentation. Language in presentation is appropriate to audience.

Language choices are unclear and minimally support the effectiveness of the presentation. Language in presentation is not appropriate to audience.

Adapted from: Association of American Colleges and Universities n.d.

Rubrics such as this one are useful for both you and your tutor as it enables the markers to form a shared understanding about how grades should be awarded and clearly communicates to you what is needed to successfully complete the task.

How to use a marking rubric

Rubrics are useful throughout all stages of the assessment process.

Before the assessment occurs you are able to:

  • unpack what is required in the assessment task
  • understand expected elements and approaches.

During the assessment process you can:

  • evaluate your own work as it progresses.

After the assessment process the rubric enables you to:

  • gain feedback on the quality of your performance against the specified criteria
  • see your strengths, weaknesses and where you can improve
  • understand the standards and how grades are allocated.

 

Further considerations

  • If you do not understand the language in the rubric such as ‘critically analyse’ or ‘synthesise’ please clarify with your tutor as to exactly what they are after so you can maximize your learning and results.
  • Research has found that most students reported increased confidence and ability to better approach assignments when they were provided with a well-designed rubric (Jones et al. 2016).
  • Studies of students’ responses to rubric use suggest that graduate and undergraduate student’s value rubrics because they clarify the targets for their work, allow them to regulate their progress and make grades or marks transparent and fair (Reddy & Andrade 2009).

Further resources

References

  • Association of American Colleges and Universities n.d., Value Rubrics, Association of American Colleges and Universities, viewed 24 November 2016, https://www.aacu.org/value-rubrics.
  • Jones, L, Allen, B, Dunn, P & Brooker, L 2016 ‘Demystifying the rubric: a five-step pedagogy to improve student understanding and utilisation of marking criteria’, Higher Education Research & Development, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 129 – 142.
  • Reddy, YM & Andrade, H 2009, ‘A review of rubric use in higher education’, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, vol.35, no.4, pp.435-448.
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