Rubrics can really rock

Posted on 03.31.2013


Over the past few years I have embraced rubrics more and more.  There is alot of stress for me when it comes to grading an assignment for so many different reasons; rubrics help reduce it for me, and I’m sure, also reduces the stress for students as well.  In the best case scenario, they have become a time saver for grading, made my assessments more fair, provided students with more feedback (before and after they turn in their work), creates consistency and support in expectations, made it easier for me to give direct feedback and also allow me to emphasize certain skills or ‘values’ in an assignment.

A recent rubric I used for an African American History project on Race is a great example.  In this unit, students studied different definitions of race throughout history and then had to create an infographic explaining what race is and it’s influence society.  You can see the final products here (feel free to comment, the students would love the feedback).  When creating the final project I also created a rubric along with it using a template I use for all assignments.

My rubric has the same 5 sections which I adapted from Jillian Gierke (@jilliangierke) and from the english department on standards for writing.  With these 5 sections, it is just a simple matter of plugging in what I want students to show in their infographic; as time goes on I get better and better at articulating what I want and it goes pretty quick. Having the same 5 sections are also useful to the students because over time, there is less surprise and confusion because there is a common language and understanding of what I am looking for.

Here is what I created:


Exceeds Expectations


Meets Expectations

4 – 3

Below Expectations

(common pitfalls)

2 – 0


x5 _______

Your thesis or answer to the EQ

HINT: your caption will play a big role here!

Very clear and creative answer to EQ with supporting examples and details.  Your message is so thought provoking that the viewer is left with their mind blown about race and racial issues in America EQ is clear and relates to EQ.

Infographic has a message about race and racial issues that extends beyond a simple definition

There is no good answer to EQ or it is clouded by other random information.

Answer is not directly related to EQ nor is it clear.

No thoughtful message.


x4 ________

How the information on the infographic is presented in a meaningful way

There is a clear and creative connection between all information on the infographic.  The information clearly supports the EQ answer in a meaningful and visual way.  All information flows to the EQ answer.

Infographic connects your images when organizing the information.

The information, details and examples prove the EQ is correct by leading viewer to your EQ answer.

Visuals connect to the EQ answer

There are just random visuals on the infographic that do not have a clear and meaningful connection to each other or the EQ answer.

View is left confused and frustrated at what they are looking at.


x5 ________

Details, examples and graphics that are from history

There more than 5 correct examples and details.

Details and examples clearly show research and understanding about race.  Your IG is grounded in lots of data!

You use at least 5 correct examples with details about how people think about race to support your EQ answer You lack details and examples that relate to your EQ answer.

Examples or content leaves viewer confused.

Style and Mechanics

x3 ________

How the infographic visually looks

Your IG goes beyond the pie charts, graphs and simple pictures and text.  Examples, details and information in a way that is creative but makes perfect sense in a visually stunning way. IG is visually appealing and uses a balance of images and words to convey a message to viewer. The visuals on the IG are boring and simple.  It shows a lack of time, effort and we’d all just prefer you’d written a paper instead of making an IG

x3 ________

participation sheet

All steps are completed on time and the progress daily reports are full of details of EVERYONE working. All steps are completed on time and progress daily reports are completed with most people working Not all steps completed on time and not everyone worked as reflected on progress daily reports

Feedback and comments


To grade this assessment, each student submitted a rubric I had to fill out.  It was a simple matter of filling out each student rubric when looking at their infographic.

Two examples, not my best, not my worst – just exactly what I did.

The rubric is great for several reasons:

  1. There is immediate feedback on the rubric, I can write in additional comments or just circle or underline parts that relate to their project.  There is feedback based on whatever grade I give for each area.
  2. It’s weighted towards content and focus – for the infographic, I wanted them to use class content and use the project as a summative assessment on what they learned about different parts of history.  I also wanted them to form their own understanding and message about Race by coming up with a thesis.  It wasn’t as important to me that they did an awesome looking infographic; lets face it… this is was their first time using this technology.  It just isn’t as important. 
  3. After adding up each section I realized that their grade was fair and accurate.  I would probably have given the same grade without using the rubric, I might have been biased… this kept me very honest.


Posted in: Methods, projects