Rubric Reflection

Image source:

Do you use rubrics to support self-assessment, peer-assessment, and skill assessment? Do you create a separate rubric for each assignment? Do your rubrics look more like checklists? Are your rubrics really assessing skills or simply the ability to follow assignment instructions? Have you ever thought of using one common skill-specific rubric for all related assignments?

Common Rubric Inspiration

While researching quality rubrics design, I was inspired by the VALUE Rubrics < > of the Association of American Colleges & Universities that scaffold from level to level for each skill.

Trial and Error

Last winter, I taught an intermediate pronunciation course, where the students perform at CLB 5 for the first half and then CLB 6 for the second half. With this common skill-specific rubric approach, I experimented with scaffolding one common CLB 5 rubric and then one common CLB 6 rubric that I used for all of the pronunciation assignments throughout the course. I reviewed the rubric and each of the success criteria in the first class and evaluated consistently across all of the assignments with this one common rubric. The students got better and better at internalizing and self-correcting their pronunciation. They also gained confidence in asking for help with discrete aspects of pronunciation. I found this approach guided the lesson development and made providing meaningful feedback easier.


If you are looking for tips on how to get started with your next skill-specific rubric, keep this simple list in mind.

  • State explicit success criteria
  • Use positive student-centred language
  • Use the active voice
  • Begin each descriptor with an active verb
  • Provide exemplars and samples with the rubric

Personally speaking, I prefer a rubric to read from expert on the left moving towards novice on the right. I feel that this helps the student focus on the highest desired attainment rather than the minimum.


If you are exploring rubrics for the first time or looking to revamp existing rubrics, there are great open source tools like Rubistar < >  and Rubric Maker< > that you can try. When you create a rubric, you can select from sets of existing categories and descriptors or you can edit to make your own. Then simply print, download, or save online. If you use a learning management system (LMS), it might have a rubric tool.

What has your experience with rubric creation been like? Are there any tools that you like to use?

Hello. My name is Paula Ogg and I’ve been teaching English for over 20 years - everything from beginner conversational English to postdoctoral fellow grant research writing to mentoring teachers, seasoned and new, in innovative approaches to education. I hold a Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum Instruction Technology, a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Theory, Methodology, and Language Instruction designation, and a Bachelor of Arts in English. My interests include instructional design, curriculum development, distance education, health education, travel and tourism, technology, eportfolios, and, of course, English language arts. In my teaching practice, I use a constructivist approach that focuses on what the students are doing and what they can produce in a publishable artifact for an eportfolio.


3 thoughts on “Rubric Reflection”

  1. Rubrics are such valuable tools. I love using them as assignment checklists for research papers as well.

    Do you recommend a maximum number of categories and /or levels?

    1. Sarah, there is nothing in the literature to suggest a perfect ideal number of levels or criteria. For the criteria, I would aim for 4-6 criteria and no more than 8 criteria. This is to make it manageable for the learner. The purpose of the criteria is for the student to be able to envision themselves being successful. If there are too many criteria, the learner may be overwhelmed. If you do have 8 or more criteria, could they be bundled up and unbundled as elements of performance for one over-arching criteria? As a comparison, there is some good debate in the literature about the number of learning outcomes. I lean towards Biggs and Tang (2011) who suggest 4-6 outcomes. For the levels, I would aim for 3 levels and no more than 6 levels. Similarily, the levels are for the learners to see their development. Think about the various taxonomies, like Blooms, SOLO, Fink, Wiggins & McTighe, and how they scaffold learning from recognition to demonstration to application. Paula

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *