Rubrics have become popular with teachers as a means of communicating expectations for an assignment, providing focused feedback on works in progress, and grading final products. Although educators tend to define the word “rubric” in slightly different ways, Heidi Andrade’s commonly accepted definition is a document that articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria, or what counts, and describing levels of quality from excellent to poor.
Rubrics are often used to grade student work but they can serve another, more important, role as well: Rubrics can teach as well as evaluate. When used as part of a formative, student-centered approach to assessment, rubrics have the potential to help students develop understanding and skill, as well as make dependable judgments about the quality of their own work. Students should be able to use rubrics in many of the same ways that teachers use them—to clarify the standards for a quality performance, and to guide ongoing feedback about progress toward those standards.