Create a Rubric

Create a Rubric

by Katherine Baeckeroot

Rubrics help you objectively and consistently grade or assess learner submissions, such as assignments, projects, activities, or other work. They are used to identify how well the learner achieved learning outcomes defined for the course or program.

The process for creating a rubric varies depending on whether a submission is best assessed using an analytical or a holistic rubric.

Analytical Rubrics

Use analytical rubrics to evaluate submissions according to several criteria or qualities. Analytical rubrics are useful when you want to evaluate the learner on several unique key points.

There are three steps to create analytical rubrics:

  1. Identify what to assess or evaluate
  2. Determine the various levels of achievement possible for the criteria
  3. Describe what the learner must do to achieve a certain level for each criterion

Steps to create an analytical rubric

Identify What to Assess

To determine what to assess, list the qualities, skills, or knowledge the learner must demonstrate to indicate that they successfully learned the content in the course. This list forms the criteria for the first column of the rubric.

Graphic of an analytical rubric

Determine Levels of Achievement

Next, determine the levels of achievement for each criterion. You might use a numerical scale or descriptive statements to describe the various levels the learner could achieve.

Here are some examples of descriptive scales:

  • Poor, Average, Good, Excellent
  • Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, Advanced
  • Beginning, Developing, Approaching Proficiency, Proficient, Advanced

There is no limit to the number of levels in your achievement scale. What you use depends on the goals of your course and the program to which the course belongs. In some cases, descriptive scales may be accompanied by numbers or percentages that add up to a letter grade.

The levels of achievement form the top row of the rubric.

Levels of achievement

Create Descriptions for Each Criterion

Once you defined the criteria to assess the learner and the various levels that the learner can achieve, create the descriptions for each criterion/level of achievement pair. For example, what does an excellent submission look like versus an average submission? What qualities are required to achieve full points for a criterion? Your descriptions should be detailed but succinct. Strive to describe each criterion in one to two sentences.

These descriptions complete the remaining cells finalizing your rubric.

Complete analytical rurbic

Holistic Rubrics

Use holistic rubrics to evaluate how well learners performed overall by assessing the quality of submissions according to levels of achievement. Holistic rubrics are useful for assessing reports, papers, presentations, and projects.

There are three steps to create holistic rubrics:

  1. Identify what to assess
  2. Determine levels of achievement
  3. Create detailed descriptions for each level of achievement

Steps to create a holistic rubric

Identify What to Assess

When figuring out what to evaluate, reflect on what the learner needs to show, understand, or do. The criteria must demonstrate that the learner adequately met the learning outcomes of the course. Holistic rubrics evaluate a learner’s submission based on more than one criterion but depending on how well the learner performs on the task, they are assigned an overall level of achievement (like Poor, Average, Good, or Excellent). It’s similar to creating analytical rubrics (you are still developing a list of qualities to assess the learner), but instead of dividing and reviewing the criteria individually, you analyze them together as a group.

Determine Levels of Achievement

Next, decide how you will score the submission. Like analytical rubrics, you can use a numerical value, a short description, or both to define each level of achievement.

In holistic rubrics, the levels of achievement are displayed in either the first column (for a horizontal rubric) or the top row of the rubric (for a vertical rubric).

Horizontal holistic rubric

Horizontal Rubric

Vertical holistic rubric

Vertical Rubric

Create Descriptions for Each Level of Achievement

After identifying what needs to be assessed and what performance levels are achievable, write detailed descriptions for each achievement level using the criteria identified in the first step.

Include as many details as possible to help guide the grading process. These descriptions should ideally be one to two paragraphs, fully describing what the learner must do to earn that score or achievement level.

Horizontal holistic rubric with text

Horizontal Rubric

Vertical holistic rubric with text

Vertical Rubric


Rubrics: Useful Assessment Tools. Centre for Teaching Excellence. (2020, May 13). https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/assessing-student-work/grading-and-feedback/rubrics-useful-assessment-tools.

Types of Rubrics. Teaching Commons | DePaul University. (n.d.). https://resources.depaul.edu/teaching-commons/teaching-guides/feedback-grading/rubrics/Pages/types-of-rubrics.aspx.

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