Step 2: Designing Assessment Activities & Tools, and Creating Rubrics

Once you have developed Student Learning Outcomes for a course or program, the next task is to develop a means of evaluating student work. In most cases, this involves selecting appropriate learning activities within the course or program to assess for evidence of expected student learning. In some cases, the assessment activity will be developed in conjunction with faculty colleagues or other stakeholders. In still other cases, the activity can involve the use of a normed, standardized instrument like a licensing exam. Download a list of assessment tools (PDF) with their respective pros and cons.

Accompanying the assessment activity will be the criteria which will guide the evaluation of student work. The criteria is represented through the use of a Rubric. A rubric is a tool used to evaluate student performance based on specific defined criteria. The criteria are written based on the major traits or qualities that are expected in student work. Rubrics are most often designed for specific assignments, activities or projects, and points are assigned by the evaluator (faculty or staff member) based on the degree to which students meet performance criteria. Download a list of rubric examples (PDF) .

Both faculty and students across disciplines find rubrics extremely helpful for a variety of reasons. Faculty like rubrics because:

  • They focus attention on the most important outcomes
  • They communicate explicit expectations
  • They place greater responsibility on students for meeting performance expectations
  • They often promote a greater level of student engagement (and deeper learning as a result)
  • They provide a more consistent/reliable means of grading, and can help to resolve any disputes over grading criteria.
  • They provide a valuable tool to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction, and can focus attention on what areas need improvement.

Students like rubrics because:

  • They clearly spell out what the instructor expects in an assignment or activity.
  • They clarify how their work will be evaluated/graded.
  • They focus student effort on mastery of the most important concepts/skills
  • They provide a means of constructive feedback to improve learning.
  • They ensure a sense of fairness and objectivity in evaluation of their work.

Further Assistance:

To further assist you in planning sound assessment strategies, as well as developing effective rubrics, we provide the following resources: EXAMPLE S of Rubrics from other colleges, sorted by discipline: (This is where the searchable list of Rubrics will go) Downloadable documents: