Instructor and student working on computer together.

Rubrics 101

Brief Overview

Brief Overview

Rubrics are scoring tools that provide clear expectations for student work while offering a framework for grading based on specific criteria and levels of achievement. This framework reduces time spent grading, increases grading transparency, and supports objectivity and consistency in evaluation. And, because rubric criteria highlight common strengths and challenges for students, instructors are able to focus comments on offering individualized feedback supporting student self-assessment, reflection, and deeper learning.

Three Types of Rubrics


Three Types of Rubrics: Holistic, Analytic, Single Point

When building a rubric, there are three basic styles to consider. Which makes the best sense depends on what the instructor is trying to achieve.

Holistic Rubrics

Best for: Assessments focused on overall achievement with minimal specifications.

Holistic rubrics allow instructors to offer an overall score based on an overall impression of performance quality. Levels of achievement are correlated to point values, describing what achievement of that level looks like. Review the example below.

Advantages: Holistic rubrics can take less time to create and score than analytic rubrics because there are fewer decisions to make. They also offer students a quick snapshot of performance expectations and achievement.

Disadvantages: Because they are less specific, holistic rubrics don’t specify for learners what elements of an assessment are most important. Likewise, they do not support instructors in offering feedback on general strengths or challenges related to specific criteria.

Analytic Rubrics

Best for: Assessments with multiple requirements or criteria that vary in value.

Analytic rubrics divide assignment expectations into key criteria, isolating different aspects of performance and assessing each one separately. Levels of achievement are defined for each criterion along with corresponding point values. The total points earned for each criterion are then tallied for an overall grade. See example below.

Advantages: The values and descriptions set for criteria clarify for students what components of an assignment are most important to focus on and when selected during the grading process can more precisely communicate strengths or areas for improvement.

Disadvantages: Can be challenging and time consuming to create. Depending on the level of specificity offered in the criteria descriptions, analytic rubrics may encourage students to take a technical, box-checking approach to work.

Single-Point Rubrics

Best for: Assessments aimed at development and/or the analysis of proficiency and thus better suited for earlier, formative assessments.

Single-point rubrics are focused on the achievement and assessment of a given criteria according to a single, specific standard. Each criterion is marked as "Met,” “Partially Met,” or "Not Yet Met" with descriptions highlighting what is required to meet expectations. These rubrics are ideal for evaluating low-stakes drafts, offering instructors the ability to make a quick assessment that students can use to identify and address areas for improvement. See example below.

Advantages: Single-point rubrics are relatively simple to create and score, offering students a quick snapshot of expectations for an assignment and instructors the ability to quickly clarify where the students’ performance may be lacking.

Disadvantages: The single-point rubric is less nuanced than the analytic rubric, requiring sometimes extensive, individualized feedback to be effective. Likewise, the single-point rubric can make it more challenging to vary values between criteria.



When determining which rubric type will be most effective and whether and how criteria should be presented, instructors should consider the purpose of the assessment and their own expectations for the rubric relative to student needs. If the purpose of the assessment is to offer general, summative feedback, a holistic rubric may be a solid choice. However, if an assessment is complex and/or students will be expected to use feedback to improve immediate or future assignments, a single-point or analytic rubric might be more effective. In all cases, the relation between assessment expectations and course goals and objectives should be clear. In all cases, instructors should expect to offer individualized feedback. Rubrics are not intended to replace but to support instructors in clarifying expectations and evaluations for students.

For support in talking through which rubric is best, connect with the Instructional Design and Development team.

To request rubric templates or to get help to build a template into Elearning, connect with the Instructional Technology team.

Helpful Resources for Building Rubrics in Elearning

Attaching a Rubric to a Dropbox in Elearning
D2L Brightspace YouTube: Creating Analytic Rubrics
D2L Brightspace YouTube: Creating Holistic Rubrics