Rubrics in Canvas

AOI | Learning Innovations
Faculty Insider

Weekly Tip: Rubrics in Canvas

A rubric provides explicit criteria of how students’ work will be assessed. Rubrics promote alignment between learning objectives and assessment and increase transparency between instructor and student. While rubrics are often used as a tool for final assessment and grading, they can also be used to simply highlight for students where they can improve on future assignments or assessments. The Canvas Rubric tool is an excellent way to provide clear and consistent standards for you and your students.

Below are some answers to questions that can help you get started with rubrics.

Where do I start?

Your course learning outcomes provide a good starting place for writing strong criteria statements in your rubrics. By ensuring that your individual assignment criteria align with your course learning outcomes, you can more easily map student achievement of those outcomes. Consider questions like:

  • How is the task or assignment moving students towards or fulfilling a given course outcome?
  • What does success look like within the context of the task or assignment?
  • What specifically am I expecting students to demonstrate by completing the task or assignment?

Pro-Tip: While setting up rubrics may seem tedious at first, requiring you to define criteria and score ranges as well as comments for each possible rating, once the rubric is attached to a specific activity in Canvas, they will save you so much time!

Because you can simply click on the score range for each criterion you are evaluating, Canvas will tally the total score for you, and students will receive instant, automatically generated feedback. Then, you can always provide additional, individualized feedback as needed.

What can I use rubrics for?

  • Grading and feedback from instructor
  • Peer review
  • Self-assessments
  • Presentations
  • Exams
  • Discussion responses
  • And much more!

How do rubrics help students?

Rubrics can be helpful to students by:

  • Enabling students to reflect on their progress as they work.
  • Helping students prepare their work and understand their grades.
  • Allowing students to consider and provide objective and constructive feedback, a valuable skill in the workplace.

Essentially, rubrics help students prepare their work and understand their grades. Because rubrics describe to students what you will look for when grading, their scores are much more transparent to them, and the descriptions you write can reduce potential confusion and emails regarding grades. Crucially, the rubric is a great tool for reducing students’ perception of subjectivity in how grades are awarded.

How do rubrics help faculty?

Rubrics can be helpful to faculty by:

  • Saving time grading by automating much of your scoring and feedback. While rubrics may seem tedious to set up at first, they greatly reduce time spent on individual student submissions when attached to Canvas assignments, discussions, and quizzes.
  • Aligning your emphases when scoring with the concepts students were told to emphasize in their work.
  • Increasing consistent, equitable grading for all students.

Rubrics help you ensure that the expectations you provide your students align with what you look for when you evaluate their projects so that your students know to emphasize in their work the same concepts you are emphasizing in your evaluations.

By increasing alignment between outcomes and assessments, rubrics also ensure that each student is evaluated equitably according to the same criteria and with the same emphasis on each criterion.

To learn more about rubrics, attend one of our Canvas Assignments and Rubrics trainings. For additional assistance and to work one-on-one with an Instructional Designer, please visit the on-demand support room.


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

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact 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.