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Weekly Tip: Using BB Rubrics to Provide Feedback to Students

Don’t miss this week’s accompanying Inclusive Access Approach, at bottom

Rubrics enable students to reflect on their progress as they work. They also support students in giving and receiving constructive feedback to one another. The exercise of creating a rubric is itself beneficial in that it challenges you to identify the criteria by which learning will be assessed. This shifts focus from what you intend to teach to what you intend students to learn and promotes better alignment between learning objectives and assessment. The Blackboard Rubric tool is an excellent way to provide clear and consistent standards for you and your students.

Tip: Require students to attach a self-assessment, using the rubric, to all submitted work. This will allow you to quickly identify and address misconceptions in the use of the rubric.

Rubrics work because they make explicit to students what value system is guiding the evaluation.  Making that explicit allows students to put the most of their focus on the aspects of the assignment that are weighted as the most important.

—Lisa Johnson-Shull, WSU Writing Program

The rubric tool in BlackBoard can be associated with a variety of assignment types including:

  • Discussion Forums
  • Essay
  • Short Answer and File Response test questions
  • Blogs
  • Journals
  • Wikis

When grading you simply click on the criteria that best represents the students work. When you do this two things happen:

  1. The student will see the criteria that you have chosen as feedback
  2. The gradebook will automatically use your choices to calculate the student’s score

Students can also select View Rubric to view the grading criteria before they submit their work and use it to reflect on their progress.

Here are some examples of the student rubric view in assignments and test questions.

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Once created you can make copies of your rubric and associate it with other assignments in your course, or other courses. You can also copy and edit a rubric that was used previously.

Tip: Create activities, in class or online, that require students to use the criteria of the rubric to reflect on and discuss a problem, topic or issue. This will allow you to observe their use of the criteria in conversation.

Tip: Use the commenting feature of the rubric to translate the criteria and make connections to specific examples in the student’s work. This is especially helpful at the beginning of the semester as a way to introduce the rubric to students.

Tip: Create a video tutorial in Panopto or VoiceThread where you use your rubric to evaluate a sample of student work. This will help students better understand the rubric and how they can use it for self and peer assessments.

Additional Resources


Inclusive Access Approach

This section emphasizes how this week’s tip can help nurture an equitable student experience by providing an inclusively accessible course to a diverse student population. This population includes students who have varying characteristics and qualities. These may include, but are not limited to, physical and mental abilities, gender, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic background, life experiences, geographic location, religious beliefs and values.


Incorporating rubrics into a course encourages an inclusive accessible learning experience, helps ease common learning barriers, and addresses the needs of a diverse student population.

  • Rubrics provide the opportunity to inform all students, from the onset, of instructor expectations, and the criteria used to assess their learning. All students have a universal understanding of what is required and how to focus their learning efforts.
  • Rubrics may help reduce a student’s fears, anxiety, confusion, or frustration that can be associated with taking a course. Because they know what is expected, students can monitor their learning and understanding of the content and are not surprised by the unknown.
  • Rubrics invite all students to actively participate, connect with content, and continually self-reflect and evaluate their understanding of the content throughout the learning process.
  • Rubrics foster engagement and meaningful participation with peers and instructors by providing a common language that is referenced when providing relative, constructive, and timely feedback and critiques. This engagement helps create a community of diverse learning, and it reduces students feeling alone in the learning process.

This series of videos and teaching tips is presented by Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). We invite you to join the conversation. Share your tips and ask questions through this blog. If you would like these posts to be sent directly to your email each week, subscribe to the listserv by emailing aoi.li@wsu.edu.

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact aoi.li@wsu.edu or request training on demand. You can also visit the Spark Faculty Innovation Studio in room 102 any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, during the academic year.