Features of rubrics assessment tools for observational assessments

In designing and developing assessment tools for competency-based learning, it became evident that there’s a strong case for providing assessors with a tool to assist in their judgement of an individual’s competence. Performance criteria are often used to develop assessment tasks, in particular skills based tasks; however these are
then assessed using basic tools in the form of observation checklists.

Whilst a rubric can be utilised for the assessment of written work, in the context of competency-based training,  it is more applicable to use in skills based assessments.

The content used for this multiple format post has been taken from a paper I wrote as part of post-graduate study.

This audio explores the following topics:

  • What is a rubric?
  • Features of a rubric
  • Types of rubric
  • Why use a rubric?

Here’s an example of the mastery scale. This one is based on a unit of competence for delivering a presentation. It will give you an indication of what we mean by having a scale. At the accomplished level, learners would have mastery of the three other levels.

rubric mastery scale example


  1. Allen, D. & Tanner, K. (2006). Rubrics: Tools for Making Learning Goals and Evaluation Criteria Explicit for Both Teachers and Learners. CBE – Life Sciences Education. Vol. 5, Fall 2006, 197 – 203.
  2. Andrade, H. & Du, Y. (2005). Student perspectives on rubric-referenced assessment. Practical Assessment Research & Evaluation. Vol. 10, No. 3.
  3. Andrade, H. (2000). What Do We Mean by Results? Using Rubrics to Promote Thinking and Learning. Educational Leadership. Vol. 57, No. 5.
  4. Andrade, H. L., Du, Y. & Wang, X. (2008). Putting Rubrics to the Test: The Effect of a Model, Criteria Generation, and Rubric-Referenced Self-Assessment on Elementary School Students’ Writing. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice. Vol. 27, No. 2, 3 – 13.
  5. Biggs, J. (2003). Aligning teaching and assessment to curriculum objectives. Retrieved from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files/Biggs%20Constructive%20alignment.rtf
  6. Goodrich, H. (1997). Understanding Rubrics. Educational Leadership. 54 (4), 14 – 17.
  7. Reddy, M. Y. & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. Vol. 35, No. 4, 435 – 448.
  8. Roberson, D. N. (2002). Andragogy in Colour. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED465047&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED465047
  9. Stevens, D. D. & Levi, A. J. (2005). Introduction to Rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback and promote student learning. Stylus Publishing. Sterling. Virginia.
  10. Tierney, R. & Simon, M. (2004). What’s still wrong with rubrics: focusing on the consistency of performance criteria across scale levels. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation. Vol. 9, No. 2.
  11. Voorhees, A. B. (2001). Creating and Implementing Competency-Based Learning Models. New Directions for Institutional Research. No. 110, 83 – 95.

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