Grading & Rubrics

Grading & Rubrics

Are you new to teaching? Do you need fresh ideas for grading? Would a sample rubric or grading technique be of help?

Grading can be a tedious and daunting task, and one of the goals of the Center for Teaching and Learning is to provide faculty with practical ways to approach grading that measure course objectives, contribute to student learning, and make efficient use of faculty time.

Specifications Grading

Specifications Grading

Specifications Grading can shift your grading paradigm and “show you how to make grading easier, more logical, and more consonant with research on learning and motivation.”*

Specifications Grading: Streamline Grading Using Specs Grading
Linda Nilson, Clemson University
Presentation to PLNU Faculty on July 8, 2020
Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students and Saving Faculty Time
Linda Nilson, Clemson University
Presentation to PLNU Faculty on May 16, 2017

Specifications Grading promotes:

  • High Academic Standards
  • Higher-Order Cognitive Development and Creativity
  • Reduction of Student Stress and Increased
  • Motivation to Learn
  • Student Ownership for Their Grades
  • Faculty Time Saver and Simple Administration
  • Clear Expectations and Simple Feedback Process

*Barbara E. Walvoord, Professor Emerita, University of Notre Dame

Linda Nilson @ PLNU

Who is Linda Nilson?

Linda Nilson is an author and presenter with over 25 years of experience as a faculty member and faculty developer at UCLA, UC Riverside, Vanderbilt, and most recently Clemson University. She is also an author and presenter on topics such as teaching effectiveness, assessment, and scholarly productivity. Her publications include:

What other resources are there?

Are there handouts or examples?


Rubrics are beneficial to both faculty and students. When creating a good rubric, the process allows faculty to define the most important characteristics of an assignment and the expectations for student work. A simple search online will yield dozens of rubric ideas, which easily becomes overwhelming. Our goal is to provide you with vetted rubric-writing resources, examples, and best practices.

Bettina Tate Pedersen, professor of Literature, created this Rubric Training document that includes instructions on Selecting a Rubric, Editing or Creating a Rubric, and other important tips. 

Creating Good Rubrics in Canvas, January 21, 2021 with Bettina Tate Pedersen, Eddie Matthews, and Donna Marvel

You will find pre-created rubrics in this Canvas-based course link called Rubrics Repository created by PLNU’s Instructional Design team. Once you have “enrolled in” this course, you will be able to browse through already existing rubrics and modify them to suit your course assignment needs.

How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading

by Susan M. Brookhart, 2013. ASCD. Link to Chapter 1: “What Are Rubrics And Why Are They Important?”

“How do I know what kind of rubric will work best for my assignment needs?” Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence from Penn State put together this helpful resource on The Basics of Rubrics, just for this purpose.

Using Rubrics in Canvas LMS |Canvas | Instructure, March 26, 2020

If you have a rubric that you have used and would like to provide it as an example here, please email it to ctl@pointloma.edu. We would love to have our own faculty examples!