Model Rubrics & Descriptors

Words of Wisdom

All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

The rubrics and descriptors below are designed generically; they can be altered to fit a specific assignment. The last one presented is designed around scientific writing (IMRAD rubric). The grader should decide on weights for each feature based on what he or she values; the features may be altered as well.

 

General Rubric 1

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The points on the rubric presented below add up to 50. They should be doubled if one person grades and added together if two people grade. In the latter case, the point spread should not be more than seven. If it is, a third grader should arbitrate, or one grader should re-score.

 

Excellent 

Good    

Fair     

Poor

Accuracy

10

8             

6             

4

Development

10

8

6

4

Audience/Genre

10

8

6

4

Organization

5

4

3

2

Spelling

5

4

3

2

Punctuation & Grammar   

5

4

3

2

Usage

5

3

3

2


Total Score: ________
 
Descriptor

Accuracy
Excellent: All facts included are correct and complete; facts complement the argument or reinforce the thesis and are appropriate to the reader’s level of understanding.

Good: All facts are correct and complete and mostly complement the argument or reinforce the thesis and are appropriate to the reader’s level of understanding.

Fair: All major facts are correct but may be missing crucial contextual information or be tangential to the argument or thesis. Generally appropriate for the audience.

Poor: At least one, and sometimes more, major facts are incorrect; facts are correct but taken out of context so they are distorted; facts are irrelevant to the argument or thesis or inappropriate to the audience.

Development
Excellent: The points or claims are fully explained and supported. The writer goes the extra mile to be sure the reader gets the point by providing helpful examples or details. When necessary, the writer anticipates or refutes counterarguments.

Good: All important points or claims are adequately explained and supported with some extra detail.

Fair: Most points or claims are adequately explained and supported but with minimal detail. Some minor points may be left unexplained or unsupported.

Poor: Many of the points are inadequately unexplained or unsupported, or explanation or support is not present.

Organization
Excellent: The whole document has a clear and obvious principle of organization that makes it easy to read and understand; in longer documents, headings or topic sentences aid in skimming. Paragraphs have a clear topic or function and are of an appropriate length. All parts of the document support the thesis or main point.

Good: Most of the document has a clear and obvious principle of organization that makes it easy to read and understand; the document can be skimmed easily. Most paragraphs have a clear topic or function and are of an appropriate length.

Fair: The principle of organization may not always be clear, or there may be some straying from the thesis or main point. There may be some paragraphs that are very long or very short for no obvious reason.

Poor: There is no clear principle of organization; most paragraphs are very long or very short for no obvious reason.

Audience/Genre
Excellent: The writer takes pains to accommodate to the audience and genre by adjusting word choice, style, and content. It is quite clear from the title and introduction who the intended reader would be.

Good: There is some attempt to address the specified audience, but the writer sometimes lapses into an alternate style (for example, too academic for a newsletter).

Fair: The writer tends to forget the audience and simply write about the topic or develop the thesis; even when the genre isn’t an essay, the writer uses essay-like conventions or style. Some elements may show an awareness of genre, perhaps the title or paragraph length, but overall the language is general or the writer simply writes for the teacher.

Poor: The writer ignores the needs of the audience and the conventions of the genre.

Spelling
Excellent: No spelling errors.

Good: One or two spelling errors, but not of the type to make meaning obscure, and not of basic or common words. The error may be the result of the writer taking risks and trying new vocabulary. or it may be a common error that is not always recognized as such (for example "thru" for "through").

Fair: A few minor spelling errors (more than two) but not enough to harm the writer's ethos seriously or impede the reader's comprehension.

Poor: A major misspelling of important or common words, or a number of minor errors that interfere with easy reading or comprehension.

Punctuation, & Grammar
Excellent: Punctuation and grammar are appropriate to the audience and genre and in fact enhance the style. They conform to the conventions for edited American English, or, if they do not, the reason is rhetorical and stylistic. Errors may occur but are few and do not markedly distract the reader.

Good: Punctuation and grammar are appropriate to the audience and genre. They conform to the conventions for edited American English. Errors may occur but are few and do not markedly distract the reader.

Fair: Punctuation and grammar errors may occur but are few; while they occasionally distract the reader and cause less fluency, they do not detract from comprehension.

Poor: Errors occur frequently and mar the writer’s ethos and the reader’s comprehension. Reading is frequently interrupted by error. The writer has not proofread.

Usage
Excellent: Usage is in accordance with edited American English and sounds appropriate for the audience. There is no inappropriate use of slang or jargon. Words and expressions seem carefully selected for the genre and audience.

Good: Usage is in accordance with edited American English and sounds appropriate for the audience and gene. There may be a few clichés included, but they are used correctly.

Fair: Usage is sometimes wrong, or too formal or informal for the audience and genre, but this does not impede comprehension.

Poor: Improper usage and errors in usage are frequent and mar the writer’s ethos and the reader’s comprehension.

 

General Rubric 2

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High

 

Middle

 

Low

Analysis/Content

10        

8         

6          

4          

2

Rhetorical Appropriateness   

5

4

3

2

1

Organization

5

4

3

2

1

Introduction/Conclusion

5

4

3

2

1


Subtotal (Content/Rhetoric) Score: ________
 

Punctuation
10 8 6 4 2

Grammar & Usage
5 4 3 2 1

Spelling
5 4 3 2 1

Format
5 4 3 2 1

Subtotal (Mechanics) Score: ________
 
Total Score: __________
 
Descriptor

Analysis/ Content
High: Covers the content required and then some. Goes into accurate details about the grammatical features and connects them to the author’s style, content, or purpose (the rhetorical situation). Points out things an average reader may not even notice without consideration. Gives many examples to illustrate points.

Middle: Covers the content required and not much more. Details are there but are not very full, and may sometimes be inaccurate. Examples are given but are not ample.

Low: Describes but does not analyze. Tells what is there but not why, or how it relates to the rhetorical situation or style. Many inaccuracies.

Rhetorical Appropriateness
High: The style and tone are exactly suited to a memo written in an academic setting. The writer addresses the reader and the concerns of the reader.

Midddle: The style and tone are fairly well-suited to an academic stetting but may not be personally suited to the memo recipient. A few word choices or other stylistic choices may be slightly off.

Low: The style and tone are unsuited to a memo and to an academic setting. The writer ignores or misses the concerns of the reader.

Organization
High: There is an evident principle of organization. There may be headings, and if so they guide the reader. Topic sentences may also guide the reader. The memo is easy to skim. Everything the forecast mentions will be discussed is included.  

Middle:
The principle of organization may be present but may not be the best choice (i.e., it may be chronological, ordered by how the essay being analyzed is ordered, rather than logical, according to categories such as “apostrophes,” “diction,” etc. Headings might be lacking where they would have helped.

Low: There is no evident principle of organization, and transitions between paragraphs are weak or non-existent. Sometimes transitions are present but they are awkward or highly mechanical.

Introduction/Conclusion
High: Introduction sets the context for the memo—what the memo writer is doing and why—and explains the rhetorical situation for the writing being analyzed. Includes a brief summary of content of the essay being analyzed and a thesis. May also include a forecast statement (“In this memo I will . . .” or “This memo explains . . .”). If the introduction does not include the thesis, the conclusion does. The conclusion reviews major points and makes some general comments about the author’s style or about writing.

Middle: Introduction provides the required rhetorical situation and describes the piece being analyzed, but neglects the thesis. The conclusion summarizes or reviews the major points.

Low: Introduction dives right into the assignment without more than a mention of what is being analyzed. Misses or does a very surface job of describing one of the major components (rhetorical situation; summary of content). Just ends.

Punctuation, Grammar & Usage, Spelling, Format
High: Conforms to the norms of edited American English. Uses language concisely and eloquently. Flows well from one sentence to the next and reads well aloud. Sentence lengths and types vary to give the prose rhythm. The few errors there may be do not get in the way of reading fluently. There are adequate transitions or links between sentences.

Middle: May be a little wordy in places, where sentences could be combined, but reads fairly well. Diction may be correct but is not always lively. Matter-of-fact and correct, but not really showing a personality doing the writing. Errors are minor and not distracting.

Low: Errors are distracting and show a lack of understanding of sentence-level grammar or the basic conventions of edited American English.

 

IMRAD Rubric

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This rubric does not include points. Points can be added as desired, and categroies can be weighted to empahsize whatver seems most important to an assignment or pertinent to teaching.  

IMRAD RUBRIC

Exceeds Expectations

Meets Expectations

Developing

Comments

Abstract

Concisely conveys a research agenda and essential results and avoids introducing new material; includes the significance of the research.

Concisely conveys a research agenda and essential results and avoids repetition and introducing new material.

May be repetitious, may introduce new material, and/or includes no or extraneous results or no research agenda.

 

Introduction

States a problem and the research agenda, and explains its significance. Includes appropriate background.

States a problem and the research agenda, but may not fully explain its scope or significance. Includes some background.

Does not clearly explain the problem, research agenda, scope, or significance. May omit important background.

 

Use of Sources/References

Uses current, relevant, and appropriate sources correctly cited following appropriate conventions.

Mostly uses current, relevant, and appropriate sources that are usually correctly cited following appropriate conventions.

May use many outdated, irrelevant, inappropriate sources or does not cite consistently or correctly follow appropriate conventions.

 

Methods

Research is well planned and carefully conducted, and method and materials are explained as needed, with visuals when appropriate.

Research is mostly well planned and carefully conducted but method and materials are not always fully explained.

Lacks full, accurate, or careful explanation of materials and methods.

 

Results/Analysis

Each key research finding is given visual prominence. The data presentation is accurate, readable, and free of gaps or inaccuracies.

The data is clearly presented and mostly accurate and readable but a few gaps may be present.  Some of the key findings are difficult to find.

The findings are not clearly presented or readable. Some of the data is inaccurate and/or contains gaps.

 

Visuals

Visuals are easy to interpret, accurate, and display the data correctly and without distortion. Visuals enhance the data and are worked gracefully into the text. All visuals are labeled correctly, and sources are cited. Titles are apt and match the list of figures.

Visuals are, for the most part, easy to interpret, and accurate, and display the data without distortion, although the choice of display may not always be the best. Most are labeled correctly, and sources are cited. Titles match the list of figures.

Fails to incorporate visuals when they are needed to clarify the data. Visuals are sometimes difficult to interpret, are inaccurate, or distort data. Some are labeled incorrectly or are not appropriated cited. Titles do not always match the list of figures.

 

Discussion/Argument

Conclusions are valid, follow logically from the data, and address the initial problem or questions posed in the introduction. Implications and potential problems are discussed thoroughly.

Conclusions are valid, follow logically from the data, and address the initial problem or questions posed in the introduction. Implications and potential problems are mentioned, although not thoroughly explained.

Conclusions do not follow logically from the data or do not address the initial problem or questions posed in the introduction. Implications and potential problems are mentioned, but some may be overlooked.

 

Organization

Key information is easily accessible and given visual prominence. Headings and subheadings define the organization and are consistently and correctly formatted. Material within paragraphs and sections reads coherently.

Key information is mostly accessible but not always given visual prominence.  Headings and subheadings define the organization and are mostly consistently and correctly formatted.  Material within paragraphs and sections mostly reads coherently.

Key information may be hard to find.  Headings and subheadings fail to define the organization or are formatted inconsistently or incorrectly. Some paragraphs or sections seem choppy or incoherent.

 

Style

Word choice and sentences are correct, concise, and appropriate for the audience. Style is straightforward and readable. Acronyms, abbreviations, symbols, and formulas are accurate and used consistently.

Word choice and sentences are usually correct and mostly appropriate to the audience but not always concise.  Style is generally readable.  Acronyms, abbreviations, symbols, and formulas are mostly accurate and used consistently.

Word choice and sentences are sometimes incorrect or inappropriate to the audience. Style may be wordy or difficult to read. Acronyms, abbreviations, symbols, and formulas are often inaccurate or used inconsistently.

 

Mechanics

Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage are appropriate to a scholarly audience.  

Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage are mostly appropriate to a scholarly audience, with occasional errors or inconsistencies.  

Contains distracting errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and/or usage that appear unprofessional.