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Writing Assessment Criteria and Rubrics

Assessment Criteria and Assessment Rubrics

Assessment rubrics and assessment criteria are both tools used for establishing a clear understanding between staff and students about what is expected from assessed work, and how student knowledge is evaluated. Assessment rubrics and assessment criteria are often referred to interchangeably but it's important to understand they have slightly different purposes.

Assessment criteria are specific standards or guidelines that outline what is expected of a student in a particular assessment task. They are often used to set clear guidelines for what constitutes success in each assessment task but are generally not broken down into discrete levels of performance. They can, however, provide the foundations for creating assessment rubrics. 

An assessment rubric is a more detailed and structured tool that breaks down the assessment criteria into different levels or categories of performance, typically ranging from poor to excellent, on a percentage scale. They can make a markers life easier by ensuring consistency and objectivity in grading or evaluation, provide a clear framework for assessing performance, and reduce time spent on grading.

Additionally, assessment rubrics can help students to understand the aims and requirements of an assessment task and can support them in understanding the outcome of their assessed work i.e., how the markers reached their decision, positive areas of feedback and feedforward comments that allow students to recognise their future development needs. 

Top Tips for Writing Assessment Rubrics


  1. Start by clarifying the purpose of the assessment and what specific skills or learning outcomes you want to evaluate. This will guide the development of your rubric.
  2. Break down the assessment into its essential components or criteria. These should reflect the specific skills or knowledge you want to assess. Be clear and specific about what you're looking for.
  3. Use straightforward and unambiguous language in your rubric. Avoid jargon or complex terminology that may confuse students or other assessors.
  4. Create a clear and logical progression of performance levels, each criterion should provide detailed descriptions of what constitutes achievement at that level (check if your school has example assessment rubrics/criteria as a starting point).
  5. Consider assigning different weightings to each criterion. Some of the rubric criterion will be more significant than others, g., theoretical application, criticality, and structure weightings will defer (this will be guided by the knowledge outcomes).
  6. Check for parity across grade boundaries Consider what a student would need to do to obtain each classification- be clear about the components which make up good performance, e.g., clear structure, argument, engagement with critical material. It is best to start at a pass, and work towards a first class. Criteria should concentrate on what the student has done, rather than what they have not done. 
  7. Leave space on the rubric for assessors to provide feedback to students. This can be particularly helpful for offering constructive feedback on areas of improvement.
  8. Best practice is to ask colleagues to read your criteria and check them for clarity before using them.
  9. Criteria may be revised from year-to-year in response to feedback and your own experience of using it Rubrics can and should evolve to become more effective over time.

Example: UG Stage 1 Rubric

Example: PGT Rubric