Assessment Rubrics

Understandably, students often display high levels of anxiety and distress about summative assessments.  Motivated to understand what skills will be tested on the exam and how to best prepare, students frequently ask questions such as “What will be on the exam” or “Will this be part of the exam”.  In order to reduce anxiety and barriers that might be a result of a student’s anxiety and distress, it is important for course instructors to clearly identify and articulate their performance expectations and criteria in a measurable way. This will allow students to know what and how to prepare.

Rubrics are a common approach to communicate performance criteria (Ambrose & Bridges, 2010). A rubric is a scoring tool that allows the course instructor to list specific performance expectations for an assignment and identifies clear criteria for high, medium and low quality work. The creation of rubrics offer advantages for course instructors and students alike, such as:

  • Ensuring that grading standards remain consistent
  • Reducing time spent grading
  • Ensuring consistency across graders in large classes that have multiple graders
  • Providing transparently related to expectations
  • Reducing student anxiety around testing and exams
  • Allowing students to monitor and assess their own learning progress, areas of strengths and weaknesses


Carnegie Mellon University: rubric examples across various types of assessment

See practical examples of UDL implementation: UDL in Action.