Solving the Rubric’s Cube

Over the summer some of our instructional designers and support specialists came together to give a webinar on rubrics. Rubrics clarifies grading and provides a useful framework for your expectations throughout the semester for both students and instructors. Here we'll share some resources for designing rubrics and using them successfully in your classes.

Joni Murphy
Nick Salamun
August 22, 2018

In July, the Online Support Team held another installment of their Wednesday Webinar series occurring the first Wednesday of every month. In this edition, the Canvas team joined forces with instructional designers Adrienne Garber and Delores Amorelli to demystify rubrics in “Solving the Rubric’s Cube”.

It was a practical and detailed session. I encourage you to watch the whole recording, but I wanted to give you a sense of what was covered in order to convince you why it’s worth solving this particular puzzle.

But wait, what are rubrics again?

Whether or not you think you know rubrics, you likely do know them already.

A rubric is a standardized form that breaks down the different aspects of how you will grade an assignment. They are a visual and analytic tool that breaks down the different concepts and skills you, as an instructor, will be looking at during assessment. The students understand what you expect of them and they help you grade in a timely and consistent manner.

Here is an example from the webinar of a rubric you might use to assess someone serving you breakfast in bed:

single point rubric

As you can see it’s a nice clear table that shows what the grader will be looking at (food, presentation, and comfort) plus some description, and the possible points for each.

A rubric:

  • Provide a scoring scale to assess performance

  • Measure attainment against a consistent set of standards

  • Define academic expectations for students

You’ve convinced me. I love rubrics! What next?

If you want to incorporate rubrics, the best time is during the course design phase or at the beginning of the semester. Your instructional designer is a great resource for helping you design rubrics for your assignments.

Many courses in Canvas have rubrics already created. It’s worth exploring your Canvas page to see if this tool is there for you to use and reaching out to instructional support if you have questions.

Available rubrics will appear under the assignment as well as in Speedgrader view. They’ll look something like this:

analytic rubric

If you don’t have any preexisting rubrics I encourage you to watch the webinar because it gives instructions on how to create and use them in Canvas.

Thinking about rubrics and talking about them with your students clarifies grading and provides a useful framework for your expectations throughout the semester. If you’d like to learn more you can view the rubric webinar recording here. You can also check out our slides here.

Rubrics really help students understand what is expected of them and they help instructors keep grading clear and consistent. That's a win-win for everyone!


Joni Murphy
Webinar Support Specialist

Nick Salamun
Platform Support Specialist


We are continually creating new webinars for faculty. We’ve covered topics such as facilitating student collaborations and fostering an active classroom. You can watch our recordings here.

If you have an idea for a topic you'd like us to cover in a future Wednesday Webinar, please let us know by contacting Nick Salamun at [email protected].