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EDU Support Blackboard Instructor Assignments, Assessments & Exams Grading Rubrics


Rubrics are scoring systems in which evaluation criteria are linked to learning outcomes. These criteria give concise descriptions of the various requirements of an assessment form and are used to:

  • Create consistency, especially if more than one instructor is involved in grading

  • Provide students clarity of the assignment expectations

  • Save time since grading can be done more efficiently

  • Increase transparency by showing students how learning goals are scored in assignments

  • help students reach the intended learning outcomes

In addition to supporting teachers, research also shows that students' perceptions of rubrics are positive because they clarify the targets for their work, allow them to regulate their progress and make grades or marks transparent and fair (Malini Reddy & Andrade, 2010).

When creating a rubric, first divide the assigned work into parts. You can then provide clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each of these sections. When creating or using rubrics, please take the following guidelines into account:

  • Use concrete terms such as “The paper provides necessary definitions clearly and consistently” rather than generic descriptors such as “good” or “poor.” (Biggs & Tang, 2011)

  • Use a spread of ratings across the scale (e.g. insufficient (4), sufficient (6), good (8) and excellent (10). You can choose any spread of ratings between 1 and 10.  Best practice recommends at least three rating levels. 

  • Take also the level and experience of your students into account. First-year students might need more explicit rubrics and guidance than master students. 

  • Make the rubrics available for your students before they start with the assignment. 

  • Consider co-creating your rubrics with your students as involving them in the criteria-making process enhances engagement and learning.

A rubric has three essential features: evaluation criteria (the leftmost column), quality definitions (the second, third and other columns) and a scoring strategy. (Popham 1997). Evaluation criteria are the factors that the teacher considers when determining the quality of a student’s work. The criteria reflect the processes and content judged to be important. Quality definitions provide a detailed explanation of what a student must do to demonstrate a skill, proficiency or criterion in order to attain a particular level of achievement, for example poor, fair, good or excellent (Reddy & Andrade, 2009).   

Still a bit confused? Perhaps the following examples will help:

  • Types of Rubrics

  • Rubrics in Nestor 

  • How to make a rubric in Nestor

  • Linking the rubric to an assignment in Nestor

  • How to use rubrics for grading and feedback in Nestor

  • View your assessment

  • Related articles

Types of Rubrics

There are different types of rubrics since the aims of use may vary; look carefully at the following examples to see which type might work best for you. Some teachers may be looking for a rubric which could provide a lot of open feedback while others may need a more definitive guide for end-of-course essays. 

Analytic Rubrics

Analytic rubrics show different criteria for each assignment. Students are assessed separately for each criteria, which means that each individual performance-indicator is looked independently of the others.

  • Suitable for (peer) feedback and formative assessment as it contains detailed criteria

  • Gives clear expectations to students

  • Higher inter-rater reliability when more than one instructor is involved in assessment

  • Suitable for (peer) feedback and formative assessment as it contains detailed criteria

  • Gives clear expectations to students

  • Higher inter-rater reliability when more than one instructor is involved in assessment

Example of analytic rubric (Biggs & Tang, 2011)

Comprehensive Rubrics

Comprehensive rubrics give an overall, single assessment of one assignment form. In such rubrics, complex skills and knowledge are often described by their main components. 

  • Effective to score complex higher order thinking skills

  • Able to assess students’ overall performance in a course

  • Suitable to assess student progress during the course

  • Time efficient

  • Risk of more-subjective assessment as instructors (and students) can interpret criteria and success differently

  • Less suitable for detailed feedback or formative assessment

  • Possibly less suitable for beginning instructors

  • Requires more calibration between instructors if more than one is involved in assessment

Example of comprehensive rubric (Masek & Yamin, 2010)

Single point Rubric 

A single point Rubrics only displays the sufficient score for the assignment. It leaves the ‘insufficient’ and ‘good’ criteria open and therefore creates flexibility in scoring the students. 

  • Simple to create and use

  • Flexibility to give feedback on areas for improvements and strengths 

  • Gives more room for students to be creative to gain a higher grade (instead of focusing on the descriptions in the Rubric) 

  • Can be difficult to determine your assessment among students

  • Requires more written feedback from a teacher

Example from Cambrian College Teaching Innovation & Learning Hub

Holistic Rubric 

A holistic rubric can be used to assess an assignment overall (for example the score of a given presentation). A holistic rubric can be used when there is not one correct answer or way to do something.


The students receives positive feedback on skills they already possess, instead of focusing mainly on what needs to be improved

  • Difficult to provide feedback on specific criteria 

  • Tends to provide more general feedback

Example from University of Wisconsin 

Rubrics in Nestor 

Rubrics can be set up in Nestor and it is also possible to copy a Rubric from one course to another. This can be helpful for grading student work directly in the Nestor environment. Please scroll down to view the instructions in setting this up.

How to make a rubric in Nestor 

  1. Go to Course Management, select Course Tools and then Rubrics.

  2. Select Create Rubric and fill in the name.

  3. In the Create Rubric page you have to fill in the name of the rubric. In a rubric we have Criteria (rows) and Levels of achievement (columns). You can remove rows and columns by clicking on the grey arrow next to the column/row title.

  4. A rubric can have different types:

    • No Points: Provide feedback only.

    • Points: Each level of achievement has a single point value.

    • Point Range: Each level of achievement has a range of values.

    • Percent: Each item's possible points determines the percentage.

    • Percent Range: Each level of achievement has a range of values. When you grade, you select the appropriate percentage level for a particular level of achievement. The system calculates the points earned by multiplying the weight x achievement percentage x item points.

  5. The default type, Percent, is used in most cases. You can change the weight of a criteria row or a single level of achievement by changing the percentage value.

  6. For each level of achievement you can fill in a description. Click the expand below to view an example of a Rubric.

  7. When you’re done, press Submit. It is now time to link it to an assignment in order to actually use it.

When changing criteria weights make sure they all add up to 100%!

Linking the rubric to an assignment

When you are finished filling in the descriptions press Submit on the bottom of the page. You Rubric is now created but it is not yet linked to an assignment. When creating or editing an assignment go to the Grading section. Click on the Add Rubric button and then Select Rubric

The Rubric you have selected will now be visible. In the Type column you can select if you want to use the Rubric for grading or just as feedback (secondary evaluation). In the Show Rubric to Students column you can select if the students are able to see the rubric before having been graded by the rubric. The students can see the criteria, levels of achievement and the possible scores if you select this.

How to use rubrics for grading and feedback

  1. Open up the Grade Center in the Course Management section and select Needs
    Grading to view any new submissions by students.

  2. You will see an overview of student submissions for each individual assignment. Click on a student’s name to view his/her submission and view their submission start grading. You can sort all submissions on assignment name by clicking on Item Name.

  3. The page will preview the student’s submission and the grading section on the right hand side of the page. Click on the arrow in the grading section to expand.

  4. Once you have clicked on the arrow the page should look like the image below. Under Grade by rubric you will find the respective rubric for each assignment, in this case Practical Research Skills. Click on the button on the right to open up the grading page in a new window.

  5. When you have opened up the grading rubric page it should look like the image below:

  6. When you are done grading the assignment, the rubric will automatically calculate the raw total of the grade as can be seen on the image below.

    The grade is calculated automatically but you can still manually change the grade if you feel that the average grade is not in line with the grade you feel is appropriate.

  7. After pressing Save the attempt page will be shown. On the right hand side you will see the score from the rubric in the Attempt field. You do not have to fill in the feedback to learner field here if you already did so in the previous step.

  8. To finalise the grading for the assignment, click on submit on the right hand side of the page. If you wish to save the rubric but want to return to it at a later time, click on Save Draft.
    The grade is now visible for the student in his “My Grades” section in Nestor. You can now find the grade with the rubric scores in the Grade Center in the cell that corresponds to the assignment column and student row by clicking on the attempt.

View your assessment

The grade with rubric scores can now be viewed in the Grade Center. Open it from Course Management > Grade Center > Full Grade Center. In the Grade Center go to the column that corresponds with the assignment and the row that corresponds with the student that you graded. In the cell select the grey arrow, as seen in the image on the right and select Grade Details. 

In the Grade Details page select View rubric (as seen in the image below). You can view the feedback and rubric score that you submitted earlier. You also have the option to change your rubric scores and feedback. If you do so, do not forget to click submit so that your changes are saved!

Whom to contact?

For further information about exams and the help we can provide, please email our team at

Contact EDU Support or your faculty's Embedded Expert from ESI for tailored didactic advice in using these suggestions in your teaching. For technical assistance please contact Nestorsupport.


Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.

Malini Reddy, Y.M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 35(4), 435-448.

Parke, C.S. (2001). An approach that examines sources of misfit to improve performance assessment items and rubrics. Educational Assessment, 7(3): 201–25. 

Last modified: 8 December 11:31 AM
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