Rubrics are comprised of 4 general parts: a task description, characteristics to be rated (usually placed in rows), levels of mastery (usually placed in columns) and a description of each mastery level; that is, of each cell.
The task description is the outcome being assessed or the instructions a student is provided for an assignment. The characteristics to be rated are the skills, knowledge or behaviors to be demonstrate by the student. The levels of mastery should be written clear language. An example might be something along the lines of: exemplary, proficient, marginal, unacceptable. Finally, each cell would contain a description of the what is required for each mastery level.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa (1) suggests that there are 6 steps to developing a rubric:
Step 1: Identify what it is you wish to assess.
Step 2: Identify the characteristics you wish to rate. Here, you would detail the skills or knowledge you plan on evaluating, limiting them to those you feel are most critical or important.
Step 3: Identify the levels of mastery: The authors recommend that you use an even number of categories to avoid the middle category being a sort of “catch all” for scoring.
Step 4: Describe each level of mastery for each characteristic (cell). Start by describing the best work you could reasonably expect to receive for that characteristic, and set that as your top category. Determine what would comprise unacceptable work and set that as your bottom category. Finally develop your mid-categories, ensuring that there is no overlap between any of them.
Step 5: Test the rubric. Apply it to an assignment, and share it with colleagues for their input. You also need to determine the minimal work that you would find acceptable for passing. This could be based on an average, a total score, or achieving a score of, say, marginal on every cell. Or, of course, you could set the standard higher than that.
Step 6: review and revise. It takes work to set these up and ensure they measure what you wish to measure. Rubrics also allow us to share grading expectations, which may be of help; for example, consider how a rubric might be used to assess a technique practical examination.
1. http://manoa.hawaii.edu/assessment/howto/rubrics.htm, accessed Dec 3, 2010