Designing effective marking rubrics

1 March 2023

Time spent developing a marking rubric will pay off as, if designed effectively, your marking rubric will be a tool for assessing student work, improving marking efficiency and consistency, and providing useful feedback.

In our tip on Using assessment to improve student learning, one of the key aspects we noted as beneficial was the inclusion of performance criteria including a marking guide or rubric to clarify requirements for students and improve the marking process.

A marking guide is more flexible than a marking rubric and allows markers to make comments and score against one or more criteria. A marking rubric can be holistic or analytical. A holistic marking rubric assesses the work as a whole, while an analytical marking rubric, is a scoring tool with pre-defined levels that explicitly describe the performance expectations. An analytical marking rubric is more effective at providing specific feedback to students before the assessment is submitted and after the assessment has been marked, and helping you monitor student learning and mark more consistently and efficiently.

An analytical marking rubric may look something like this excerpt:

The key components are:

  1. Criteria – the aspects of performance that will be assessed. How will you know if students have acquired the intended knowledge and skills?
  2. Performance – the rating scale that identifies students’ level of mastery with each criterion. Include ‘0’ (missing) to represent situations where a student has not provided evidence for a criterion. Your levels of performance can be numerical, qualitative or a combination. Examples of qualitative levels include ‘developing, acceptable, professional’, ‘novice, intermediate, advanced’, ‘not meeting, approaching, meeting, exceeding’.
  3. Descriptors – the characteristics associated with each dimension that specify the meaning of each criterion and describe each performance level.

Once you have designed your marking rubric, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you evaluate it. Ask a colleague (e.g. the moderator) to also evaluate your marking rubric before it is provided to students.

  1. Does the marking rubric relate to the learning outcome(s) being measured by the assessment task?
  2. Does the marking rubric cover important criteria for student performance?
  3. Does the top end of the marking rubric reflect excellence?
  4. Are the criteria and scales well-defined?
  5. Can the rubric be applied consistently across different students?
  6. Can the rubric be applied consistently by different markers?

Once finalised, your marking rubric can be included with your assessment instructions and uploaded into your submission module (e.g. Assignment) on your Akoraka | Learn course page.


For more guidance on designing marking rubrics and marking online, contact a member of Teaching Quality ( and book a place in our upcoming workshop:

  • Marking assessments online: Wednesday 15 March, 9.00 – 10.30 am


If you missed our Designing effective marking rubrics workshop, you can find the workshop resources on Teaching at Lincoln.