Understanding marking rubrics

Rubrics are a set of criteria for grading assignments. They help you understand what is expected of you and what will be assessed.

What is an assessment rubric?

When you get the instructions for your assignment, you might also get an assessment rubric. A rubric is the marking guideline for the assignment and you can use this to get an understanding of what the marker is looking for. An assessment rubric generally tells you about:

  • The criteria – what you need to include in your assignment.
  • The descriptors – a description of the criteria that outlines the levels of performance showing a clear progression between each level, e.g., between ‘excellent’ and ‘good’.
  • The weightings – the marks allocated to each task tells you how important each task is. Use these to guide the best use of your time, e.g., 10 marks vs 50 marks: which of these are you going to spend the most time on?

Download a PDF version of the assessment rubric example.

How to use the rubric

  • Read through the assignment rubric alongside the assignment task instructions.
  • Make a note of anything that is not clear and ask your lecturers or tutors for clarification.
  • While you are doing your assignment, keep referring to the rubric to make sure you are on track.
  • Before you hand in your assignment, have another look at the rubric to make a judgement of your work and make changes if needed.

How to learn from feedback

When you get your assignment back, it is very tempting to just look at the mark or grade and ignore any written feedback.

Look at the marks on the rubric to understand the feedback given for your assignment. It can sometimes feel challenging to read comments that are critical of your work, especially when you believe that you have put a lot of effort into the assignment. Feedback can be very useful to you as it:

  • Enables you to build on what you have done correctly.
  • Helps you to identify where you went wrong.
  • Identifies where you need to make improvements so that you can do better next time.

If you need to clarify any feedback you have been given, be proactive and contact your lecturer. Most lecturers have office hours where you can see them to discuss any course-related issues. Discuss the feedback with them so that you understand what you might need to improve for your next assignment.

Can I get feedback before I submit my assignment?

Some courses provide an opportunity for peer review or lecturer feedback prior to submission of the assignment. This is a way of getting early feedback so that you can improve the assignment before you hand it in. In most cases you will be guided in this process by your lecturer through your Canvas course page.

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