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Create a rubric

What is a rubric?

A rubric is a type of marking scheme that outlines the criteria for evaluation. Rubrics are usually laid out in a chart or matrix format.

For more information, read Wikipedia's detailed definition, external link of academic rubrics.

Why use the D2L Brightspace rubrics tool?

For the same reasons as using rubrics in general:

  • Expectations and criteria set out clearly for students,
  • Grading transparency;
  • Standardize and simplify assessment, especially across multiple TAs/Graders;
  • Reusable (can be copied and used in multiple course shells).

A rubric can be holistic or analytic, depending on the requirements for assessment.

Create a rubric

Analytic rubrics

Most rubrics are analytic, which means the rubric breaks down achievement requirements into multiple criteria. You assess each criterion separately, resulting in an overall assessment score.

For example, an analytic rubric for assessing essays could have separate criteria for spelling, grammar, and expression. Each criterion can be assessed as poor, good, or excellent, resulting in an overall assessment that adequately evaluates performance.

Holistic rubrics

Holistic rubrics do not break performance into separate criteria. Performance is assessed holistically, so that you consider several different criteria, but make only one overall assessment.

You can assess rubrics with textual performance levels such as, "Excellent", or with text and a numeric score such as, "Excellent (90 points)". There are several ways to score a rubric.

Create a rubric

Text only

Performance levels indicated by Text Only. For example, three performance levels for a rubric can be "Poor", "Good", and "Excellent".


Similar to Text Only, but includes points to assess performance. For example, three performance levels for a rubric can be "Poor (0 points)", "Good (75 points)", and "Excellent (125 points)".

Custom points

This scoring method is only available to analytic rubrics.

The Custom Points scoring method is similar to the Points scoring method, but you can customize the points given for each criterion. For example, if performance levels are "Poor", "Good", and "Excellent", then the criterion "Spelling and Grammar" can be worth 0 points, 10 points, and 20 points for each level, and the criterion "Expression" can be worth 0 points, 30 points, and 60 points, making it worth three times the points of "Spelling and Grammar".


The Percentages method is only available to holistic rubrics.

A holistic rubric using Percentages can be automatically assessed based on the score of its associated item (for example, a Grade item).

Brightspace rubrics are structured using groups of evaluation criteria assessed across levels of achievement

Criteria group

  • Criteria for assessment
  • Levels of achievement

Rubrics can be associated with certain assessed activities in Brightspace course shells, including:

  • Assignments
  • Discussion topics
  • Grade items

Create a rubric

You can create a rubric in the Rubrics function to be used as an assessment tool for certain course components (e.g. assignments, discussions, quizzes, grade items). With assignments specifically, you can even push the grade from the rubric to the score of the assignment.

Create a rubric

To create a rubric:

  1. Click Course Admin.
  2. Select Rubrics from the Assessment tools.
Create a rubric
  1. Click New Rubric.
Create a rubric
  1. Enter a title of your rubric.
  2. Set the status of your rubric. Only the Published status can be used in assessment.
Create a rubric
  1. Choose the Rubric type. Your rubric can be:

    Holistic: With no criteria, this rubric assesses the project/grade overall based on the levels assigned.

    Analytic: This rubric allows for assessment across multiple criteria.

  2. Select the number of criteria and levels in your rubric. Criteria are the areas being assessed. Levels are the assessment scores.
Create a rubric
  1. Choose the Scoring Method from the following options:

    Text Only: Provide text-only feedback for each level. No scoring is done.
    Points: This will assign points to each level, giving a total score at the end of assessment. Use this option if you want all criteria to be weighted evenly.
    Custom Points: You can customize how many points are assigned to each level and each category. Use this option if you want to weight criteria differently.

  2. Select an option under Rubric Visibility to choose the conditions under which the student can or cannot see the rubric:
    Rubric is always visible to learners: The student will see the rubric prior to submitting, which can set expectations. They will also see the rubric after their submission is graded, so they can see how they performed.
    Rubric is hidden until feedback published: The student only sees the rubric after their submission has been graded, and the feedback has been published, so they can see how they performed.
    Rubric is never visible to learners: The instructor(s)/TA(s) are the only people who can see and use the rubric for grading purposes. The student never sees the rubric.

  3. Check Hide scores from student views if you wish to direct students toward the criteria and de-emphasize the marking scheme. 

  4. Under Advanced Availability, please ensure that Competencies is checked. This is required, as it is a dependency for rubrics to work in your course. (You also need to ensure that in your course, in Course Admin > Tools, Competencies are enabled.)

    If you wish to allow students to share their submission, with rubric information (assuming the rubric is set as visible to students), check the ePortfolio box.

  5. When you are sure of the settings, click Save.
    Once you click Save, you cannot change the Rubric Type and Scoring Method!

Set up levels and criteria in your rubric

Once you have saved your rubric, click the Levels and Criteria tab to begin setting up the details of your rubric. If you are creating a holistic rubric, these steps will apply to the overall rubric. If you are creating an analytic rubric, you will complete these steps for each criteria. Once on this tab, you will:

Edit levels and criteria
  1. Click the context menu next to the first criterion you wish to edit and click Edit Criterion.
Edit levels and criteria
  1. Give the criterion an appropriate title.
  2. Edit your description for each level of that criterion.

    If you created a Custom Points rubric, you can adjust the point value for each level, as well. If you want particular criterion to be worth more than others, you can make the levels worth more points.

  3. Click Save when done, and repeat for other criteria.