Blackboard Rubric Tool Part 1: An introduction to using rubrics.

If you are looking for a tool that scaffolds your students progress through a task,  supports accurate self and peer-assessment, and enables consistent and transparent marking, the Blackboard Rubric Tool may be what you are looking for.

What is a rubric?

A rubric is a learning and assessment tool that articulates the expectations for assignments and performance tasks by listing criteria, and for each criteria, describing levels of quality (Andrade, 2000; Arter & Chappuis, 2007; Stiggins, 2001).

Rubrics contain four essential features (Stevens & Levi, 2013):

  1. a task description or a descriptive title of the task students are expected to produce or perform;
  2. a scale (and scoring) that describes the level of mastery (e.g., exceed expectation, meets expectation, doesn’t meet expectation);
  3. components/dimensions students are to attend to in completing the assignment/tasks (e.g., types of skills, knowledge, etc.); and
  4. description of the performance quality (performance descriptor) of the components/dimensions at each level of mastery.

In a completed Blackboard rubric these features are organised into a grid (see image below).

blackboard rubric example

Different types of rubrics

Word document with the examples of holistic and analytic rubrics in images below.

Holistic Rubric

A holistic rubric describes the overall performance and provides a single score.

example of holistic rubric

Analytic Rubric

An analytic rubric describes different components of a task, and for each component a description of performance quality is provided (e.g. a learning outcome).

example of analytic rubric

Benefits of rubrics


  • Larger tasks are broken down into a series of smaller aligned smaller ones
  • Clear expectations which enable efforts to be more focused
  • Scaffold self-assessment
  • Facilitate peer review


  • Alignment of expectations between student and teacher
  • Transparency in grading (particularly important in peer grading)
  • Enables more efficient personalised feedback
  • An effective tool to monitor the effectiveness of course materials and support

Creating rubrics

  1. Decide the requirements of the task and what students will be doing.
  2. Identify the components of the task that will be assessed (skills, behaviors, knowledge etc.)
  3. Identify how many levels are required for each component (grades etc.)
  4. Describe the performance characteristics for each components (learning outcomes)
  5. Test the rubrics with a few sample papers and a selection of students or colleagues

Performance characteristics can be described as learning outcomes using Blooms taxonomy to give varying degrees of complexity (see image below).

image of blooms taxonomy

Image courtesy of Jessica Shabatura

Skill/behaviour based rubrics

A rubric that describes performance qualities of a skill or behaviour has the benefit of being able to be used whenever that skill is being developed, regardless of the context. This gives students the opportunity to make progress over time in different settings.

Other resources

Blackboard Rubric Tool Part 2: Creating and using rubrics

Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning: Rubrics

Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation: Using rubrics


Andrade, H. 2000. Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership 57, no. 5: 13–18.
Arter, J., and J. Chappuis. 2007. Creating and recognizing quality rubrics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.
Stiggins, R.J. 2001. Student-involved classroom assessment. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


Article by Mike Clapp

Image courtesy of Pexels