How to Use a Rubric to Facilitate Learning


How to use a Rubric to Facilitate Student Learning

Teachers must provide a way for students to select their own grades. Often towards end of a grading period students would ask for bonus points or extra assignments to complete to increase their grade average. Some teachers may feel annoyed with this question yet often succumb to compiling and generating extra work for the student, extending bonus points; this practice is common.

A better way to help students be successful completing assignments is to distribute a rubric, which provides a guideline for students to follow and to helps students (and teacher) illustrate understanding of work while striving for grade they have attempted to earn.

Students can decide the grade they desire by selecting criteria delineated under grading section listed on the rubric: Students may also judge their own work and accept responsibility for the grades they earn.

Moreover, rubrics help teachers to easily discern what a student understands, and even if teachers use the holistic method of grading—glancing for key measures—teachers would nevertheless be able to glance the rubric to determine if assignment meets expectations. 

Rubrics should be kept simple. A grading choice of A, B, or C should be appropriate; grades D and F should not be included in the rubric if teachers wish to keep students interested in completing lessons.

The idea is to motivate students to complete the assignment. Seeing A or B or C as a choice stirs students into action, even the disinterested student will make a choice from the rubric because the task appears “doable.” However, depending on the learning objective graded, rubrics can become complicated to endure. A writing challenge is such a case.

Yet, teachers should cleverly decide what advanced writing element—punctuation or sentence structure or organization, for examples—is important for assessment, and place that element as criterion under the rubric-grade section for A.

A key point to consider is to place the rubric directly at the beginning of a teacher-made assignment to ensure students review rubric first before proceeding with the learning task.

Research is plentiful on the topic of rubrics. Interested teachers should read further on the topic if they wish to be detailed and meticulous in grading (see rubric source below).

Yet, a simple grading scale of A, B, or C of what and how to complete an assignment to earn a chosen grade will be sufficient and should help eradicate the unnerving student question, “May I earn bonus points?”

Motivating students to take responsibility for their own learning and helping them determine the grade they wish to earn help students understand that making A’s usually derives from effort and understanding of a learning objective. Students should understand that asking for bonus points can be avoided if they follow a rubric of how to make an A.

To summarize—

  1. Create simple rubrics for grades A. B, or C.
  2. Avoid giving a grade D or F to help encourage students to persevere in learning.
  3. Place rubric directly on each assignment so that students may easily refer to it.
  4. Read about rubrics and how to design them to understand the importance they bring to learning.
  5. Teach students to be responsible for the grades they earn.

Cynthia Mathews, Ed. D (2020)


“How to Create and use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading,” by Susan Brookhart (A very helpful book 






Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.

%d bloggers like this: