How to Create a Rubric

Rubrics have two components:

1) A list of criteria for an assignment or task

2) Descriptions of each criterion for different levels of achievement.

Creating the list of criteria:

To create a rubric, first think about the major criteria for the assignment. For example, if you want students to create a composition in an introductory painting class, you might decide that the criteria are as follows: composition, value, and paint quality. Your rubric will look something like this:

Paint Quality      

If this assignment were given in a perspective class, there would likely be a criterion for accurate perspective; in a computer-based class, ‘use of specific tools’ might replace ‘paint quality.’ For an advertising course you might look for evidence of market research.

Writing descriptions of work at each level of achievement

Decide how many columns your rubric will have. The example below has 3 columns. Next, define each criterion. Concisely answer the questions: What does an excellent composition look like? Acceptable composition? Unacceptable composition? The sample descriptions below are one interpretation of the standards for composition. Your own would differ according to your expectations and the context of the assignment. Your standards should also reflect those of the industry, your department, and the specific course you are teaching. Note that a composition assignment could be given in an introductory foundations class or in a graduate level painting course. The rubric helps to define and focus the specific criteria and levels of achievement your course seeks to develop in students.

Criteria Exceeds expectations Meets expectations Does not meet expectations
Composition Meets expectations 

Uses design principles (line, space, contrast, rules ofhirds, golden spiral) in a unique way to strengthen or highlight the focal point.
Focal point is clearly  represented

Composition is balanced

Repetition of elements creates a unity of composition
Does not include a focal point. 

No evidence of strategic use of design principles. 

Design does not achieve unity.
Value Meets expectations plus:

Value contrast is higher when closer to light source and softer when farther away

Value patterns create movement throughout the piece
All 5 values are displayed, from light, medium to dark

Values are accurately        depicted in relation to the light source
Includes less than 5 values or,

Design has either excessive or insufficient contrast
Paint Quality Meets expectations plus:

Paint is flat, opaque and 
even in texture. 

Hard and soft edges are clear and finely applied
Paint is generally smooth

Paints are evenly mixed    and colors are consistent

Edges consistently applied and don't bleed
Excessive streaks

Overly thick or bumpy paint
Bleeding between shapes

A few tips on creating rubrics

  • Always check to see what rubrics already exist in your department first.
  • Try to keep your list of criteria to five or fewer.
  • Avoid words like "good" and "bad" in your descriptions. Instead, describe exactly what good and bad look like. Looking at specific examples of A, B, C, D and F level work can help you make your language specific.
  • Showing samples of work that exemplify various levels of the rubric ("sample critique") is often very helpful to students.
  • Rubrics for major assignments should always be approved by the department director