eLearning Frenzy

eLearning is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.



#bestpracticemonday – The Importance of Rubrics in Blackboard Courses

Rbrics CubeThis blog has covered the importance of communication strategies when leading an online course. Students who feel like they have effective lines of communication during an online course tend to have a higher opinion of the course’s quality. Part of effective communication lies in the explanation of  assessment and evaluation of student work. The Blackboard learning management system has a tool that can assist faculty when communicating around grading and assessment. This tool is called the Blackboard Rubric.

Rubric (Definition)
A rubric is a way to communicate expectations of quality about an assignment or activity.

The Blackboard Rubric is an assessment tool that lists evaluation criteria for an assignment, and provides a means to convey to students your expectations for the quality of completed assignments.  This tool is an effective means to enhance an online instructor’s communication strategy.  The Blackboard Rubric tool is important for three reasons.

  1. Using a Blackboard Rubric Clears up any Grading Ambiguity for Students
  2. Using a Blackboard Rubric Makes Grading Easier and Consistent
  3. Using a Blackboard Rubric Lets Students Know What they Need to Succeed

Using a Blackboard Rubric Clears up any Grading Ambiguity for Students

Students in online courses can feel like they have multiple reasons to be anxious about their experience.  Technology glitches, digital proficiencies, and communication snafus are all obstacles that can present a problem for online students.    This does not even take into account how students interpret results from assignments and activities they have turned in.  In a face-to-face environment, students have the luxury of talking to the professor during class or stopping by the office to talk about their grade. Online students who want to know why they received the grade they did have to jump through hoops at times to determine where they went wrong.  For a student, just seeing a number in their My Grades area of Blackboard doesn’t give them the full picture.

Rubric Criterion with Feedback BoxThe Blackboard Rubric tool provides an easy method for communicating about student performance. How a student performed is not only detailed by the indicated criterion and level of achievement, but the instructor has the ability to provide further individual feedback at the individual criterion level.    If one specific criterion has three levels of possible achievement, then Blackboard instructor will have the ability to leave feedback right where the student landed for their assignment/activity.

Giving students the tools to understand how they performed, will equip them with the ability to not only understand why they performed the way they did, it can also enable them to improve upon their performance.

Using a Blackboard Rubric Makes Grading Easier and Consistent

Grading assignments/activities in Blackboard can take a fair amount of an online instructor’s time.  One way to simplify the process and give both the instructor and the students a detailed explanation of the evaluation is to grade with the Rubric Tool.  Blackboard Rubrics can be associated with:

  • Assignments
  • Essay, Short Answer and File Response test questions
  • Blogs and Journals
  • Wikis
  • Discussion board forums and threads

This means that each of these activities can be graded using the Rubric tool.   Once a rubric is associated with a Blackboard activity, the instructor can access the gradable item via the Grade Center, on the Needs Grading page, or directly from the tool.  Once in the in-line grading or grading view the View Rubric (button or link) is clicked and the instructor can select the level of achievement for each criterion and the points are automatically tabulated!

Using a Blackboard Rubric Lets Students Know What they Needs to Succeed

SuccessIf a student knows what it takes to succeed at a particular assignment, they are far more likely to be successful themselves.  The Blackboard Rubric tool has the ability to allow the students to see the Rubric BEFORE they complete the assignment.

When viewing a Blackboard activity a link is provided to your students to View the Rubric.  They then see the activity levels of achievement and criterion.  The rubric gives them visibility into what it takes to not meet requirements, meet the requirements, and exceed the requirements for the activity. The rubric then becomes the book-ends for the assignment:  a guide for what they need to be successful and a tool for letting them know how they performed.

At the very least, the use of Blackboard Rubrics can help students organize their efforts to meet the requirements of an assignment, and you can use them to explain evaluations to students. Rubrics can help ensure consistent and impartial grading.  They are important because they clear up grading ambiguity, make grading easier, and provide a pathway to success.

For more on the Blackboard Rubric tool, check out the Blackboard Help pages.

Where to Start – Example Rubrics

Bb World Blog: Rubrics – Why and How to Best Use Rubrics in Blackboard

7/12/2012 | 8:30am

Subject: Learn the benefits of using Blackboard Learn’s interactive Rubrics.  This presentation will also include how-to instructions and some best practices.


  • Define academic rubric
  • pros and cons
  • learn how to use
  • best practices and pitfalls

We are using clickers to see where we wall stand on grading and rubrics.  Great concept!

Any established mode of conduct or procedure; protocol.

Academic Rubric
Explicit set of criteria that’s used for assessing students’ work.

Pros of a Rubric

  • promotes consistent, accurate and fair descriptive assessment
  • Promotes self-reflection and self-assessment in students (leads to higher quality work)
  • Enables comparison of works across settings (use criteria in several assignments throughout the year to help assess progress in how they are doing to achieve goals)
  • Rubrics reduce need for clarification. (Time Savers)
  • Promotes Formative Assessment

What does a rubric look like?
Holistic Rubric – applies to the whole of the assignment. Not broken down by criteria.

General Rubric – Contains criteria that are general across all tasks.  Clarity of Description 35% Opinions %35 References %10 Structure/Gammer %25

Analytic Rubric – Breaks assignment down by criteria along several dimensions.  Puts it into specific things you want the student to do.

Cons of a Rubric

  • Too specific, too detail oriented (easy for this to happen)
  • Not appropriate for all situations (algebra for example – calculate correctly or not)
  • Time Consuming
  • Do not capture complexity and creativity of some works

Steps to create Rubric

  • Dtermine learning outcomes
  • keep it short 4-15 items
  • each rubric should focus on a different skill
  • Focus on how students express learning
  • Evaluate only measurable criteria
  • reevaluate the rubric

Building Rubrics:

  • Ctrl Panel > Course Tools > Rubrics > Create Rubric
  • Supply Name and Description
  • Complete Rubric details (columns are levels of achievement and rows are criteria)

Rubrics can be exported and imported through Blackboard.

Adding Rubric to Assignment:

  • Go to assignment > Edit
  • Section 3 – Add Rubric (select rubric, create new rubric, create from existing)
  • Select the Rubric(s) you created and want to use
  • Set points from Rubric to points from assignment (only works for Points based rubrics)
  • Click OK
  • You can then delete, view and edit rubric as well as change type (grading, secondary eval), show rubric to students (make sure to say “yes with rubric scores”)

Grading with rubric

  • Grade Center
  • Go to assignment
  • find student Grade attempt
  • Click View Rubric Button
  • Check the appropriate check box for what the student accomplished in terms of levels and criteria
  • You can give feedback on specific criteria
  • Points are automatically totaled

Get the impersonate student building block from Oscelot.

Student – goes to My Grades > View Rubric

Blog at

Up ↑