Assessment Toolbox

Developing Effective Student Learning Outcomes

Bloom's Taxonomy

Curriculum Map:


A rubric is scoring guide in the form of a list of chart that describes the criteria that faculty use to evaluate student learning in relation to specific learning outcomes or grade completed student assignments. Rubrics are composed of four basic parts in which faculty set out the parameters for student learning or the assignment:

  • a task description
  • a scale of some sort, (three-, four-, or five-point scale). While developing a scale it is important to be clear about expectations and yet not to discourage students even if their performance is below faculty's expectations.
  • the dimensions of student learning or the assignment
  • the descriptions of what constitutes each level of performance
    All these parameters are set out on a grid.
  • Holistic Rubrics do not have a list of the things faculty are looking for in student performance. It usually contains a short description of the highest level of performance expected for each dimension, followed by room for scoring and describing in a "Comments" column. Holistic scoring rubrics have three major shortcomings:
  1. It can be difficult to assign scores consistently using this rubric
  2. They do not yield feedback on students' strengths and weaknesses
  3. They require considerable additional explanation in the form of written notes and are more time-consuming that assessment or grading with a three-to-five-level rubric.
  • Analytical Rubrics explicitly document faculty standards for student performance at all levels. It takes time to develop succinct, explicit descriptions of every performance level for everything faculty are looking for in student performance. Analytical rubrics are a good choice under the following circumstances:
  1. Faculty are undertaking important assessments whose results may contribute to major decisions such as program quality, viability and sustainability.
  2. Several faculty are collectively assessing student work, because analytical rubrics' clear descriptions make scoring consistent across faculty.
  3. It is important to give students clear, detailed feedback on their strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Skeptical audience will be examining the rubric scores with a critical eye.
Adapted from Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback and Promote Student Learning (2005) by Dannelle D. Stevens and Antonia J. Levi and Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide (2009) by Linda Suskie.
  • Links to useful rubrics:

  • VALUE rubrics

    The VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) rubrics reflect faculty expectations for essential learning across the nation regardless of type of institution, mission, size or location. The AACU rubric development teams relied on existing campus rubrics when available, other organizational statements on outcomes, experts in the respective fields and faculty feedback from campuses throughout the process.  Each VALUE rubric contains the most common and broadly shared criteria or core characteristics considered critical for judging the quality of student work in that outcome area.

    You need to register by inputting your email address on the AACU website so that you can receive access to the VALUE rubrics. The registration is free.