Rethinking Rubric Design: A Methodology for Reducing Variations in Student and Teacher Assessments of Writing

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Presentation Date


Abstract or Description

Background: This presentation explores a new methodology for designing rubrics that reduce the variations in how students and teachers interpret and apply criteria for evaluating writing. It describes initial findings of a mixed-method research study designed to test the efficacy of keyword rubrics—rubrics that consist solely of essential descriptive terms rather than detailed criteria. The presenters will share preliminary data on the effectiveness of this methodology and its potential for application across disciplines.

Outcomes: Provide more fair and flexible assessments of student writing. Specifically, participants will learn to create rubrics using key evaluation terms that create a common class vocabulary for assessing writing. Unlike class-generated rubrics that can require substantial class time to create, this method can be integrated as part of other course instruction. Unlike assignment-specific rubrics, this strategy is flexible and can be adapted to all course assignments while still focusing on individual assignment outcomes. By addressing the often substantial variation in student and teacher evaluations of writing, participants can ensure that students more thoroughly understand expectations of both assignments and assessments.


Original Lilly Conference on College Teaching


Oxford, OH