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Assessment and feedback: Getting started 2. Marking criteria and rubrics

1. Types of
assessment

2. Marking
criteria

3. Fair
assessment

4. Giving
feedback

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This page contains guidance on why marking criteria and rubrics are essential for quality assessment, and guides you through the process of constructing them.

What do we mean by marking criteria and rubrics?

Marking criteria are essentially your standards of judgement for the assignment you have set. Marking or scoring rubrics are a guide to marking against those standards of judgement. They are often constructed as a table or grid, containing the agreed criteria, along with explicit definitions of the quality expected for different levels of judgement.

 Why is this essential?

From the student perspective:

  • If students have sight of the rubrics in advance, they will be able to see clearly how their work will be judged, and will be able to plan and take control of their learning.
  • Students will be able to understand the marks they have been given.
  • A student should be able to look at the mark given to them, alongside a clear rubric, and understand how they achieved their mark.
  • Detailed marking criteria and rubrics can offer an initial narrative and framework for feedback.

From staff perspective:

  • To ensure that marking is reliable.
  • Good marking criteria and rubrics should ensure that different markers can assign consistent grades.
  • To ensure that assessors are measuring what the assessment is intended to measure.
  • Align marking criteria to module and programme learning outcomes (Constructive Alignment).
  • Good marking criteria and rubrics can act as a part of feedback, which makes feedback production more efficient and less labour intensive.

What you can do

  • Check if your department has any existing marking criteria and rubrics that you can adapt.
  • Ask colleagues to share with you examples of the marking criteria and rubrics they use.

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Building rubrics: step by step

Step 1 - decide on your marking criteria headings. Which elements of the assignment will you be marking? For example:

  • Choice and appropriateness of topic
  • Clarity and conciseness
  • Visual design
  • Communication of a scientific concept
  • Research into the topic
  • Question-answering

Step 2 - construct a grid with the marking criteria you have chosen down the left hand side, and bands that align with the 100 point scale along the top.

A grid table, top row header indicates grade bands 1-100, left header column shows marking criteria

Step 3 - begin filling in the rubric. You might find it easier to start with the opposite ends of the scale. Use precise language. A student should be able to see exactly what is needed to achieve a mark at 70-80, for example. Continue until the whole grid is complete.

Example rubrics grid with two squares filled

Example rubrics grid with all square now filled

Step 4 - decide on the weighting for each individual criterion. Make sure this is clear in the rubric that is given to students. They should be able to understand what the most important elements of the assignment are.

example rubrics grid with details of weighting now added below the criteria in left header column

Step 5 - everyone on the marking team should use the rubric when marking. You should be able to justify your marks using the text in the rubric. A simple spreadsheet could then be used to calculate the final mark. When giving marks and feedback to students, highlight the boxes (you might include the marks for each criterion, or just the one overall mark), so that students can see how they did against the criteria. You might want to include more nuanced information if a student seems to have ‘spanned’ boundaries within an individual criterion. You could do this by providing a version of the rubric with individual phrases highlighted where relevant.

example rubrics grid with specific sentences in some boxes highlighted.

What you can do

  • Find out how to set up rubrics for your assignments on Turnitin.
  • Ensure that you share your marking criteria and rubrics with students from the beginning of the learning unit.
  • Consider building in classroom activities that familiarise students with the marking criteria - e.g. by using exemplars, or peer marking of practice assignments.

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