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Rubrics and criteria

Marking rubrics can be added to Canvas Assignments. You can use the rubric to grade submissions in SpeedGrader.


Criteria are descriptions of the standards you are looking for in an assignment. Marking guides might leave these criteria fairly vague to enable assessment in the judgement of the marker, whereas rubrics are pre-set scoring sheets that specify the precise standards required to meet each grade.


There are many different types of rubrics for marking. The more detailed a rubric is in terms of allocated grade and description, the more precise it is.  In general, the more specific and clear the rubric the less contestable and subjective the assessment will be, and the more consistent across a range of markers.

A marking guide is open to subjective judgement and so an assessment can be much more variable/contestable, but also more flexible.

There are arguments against the inflexibility of rubrics. Criteria must be pre-set, so in a fundamental philosophical sense, there is no room for creativity and divergent viewpoints (unless this is specifically acknowledged, accounted for and represented in the rubric design). A wonderful innovative idea might easily score 0% if it had not been predicted and accounted for in the criteria.

Rubrics are considered by many to be fairer and more transparent for the learner with a clearly visible grading structure for the student to follow.

Rubrics for Assignments are visible as soon as you publish the Assignment, even if it is before the Assignment’s availability date.

  • If you would not like students to see the rubric ahead of the assessment, add the marking rubric after the assessment period is finished, but before you start marking.
  • If you would like students to view the rubric during their assessment, you can upload a pdf of the rubric to the Assignment instructions and lock the file so it is available only during the assessment period.
  • Alternatively, you could add the rubric to the Assignment, but only publish the Assignment just before the assessment period.
    Note that this introduces some risk if you have internet connection problems and are not able to publish the assessment for your students at the correct time.

While rubrics can be added to Canvas Quizzes, they cannot be used to mark and are not visible to the students at the time they take the assessment. You may wish to provide the rubric within the question instructions, e.g., a pdf of the marking rubric, to give students clear guidelines for how the assessment will be marked.

Consider whether it would be appropriate to provide example rubrics for discursive/essay questions.

Download a sample marking criteria

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Download a sample rubric

Canvas screenshot of a marking rubric

Click to enlarge

An academic’s perspective

Learning Outcomes and Rubrics in Canvas - video

Learning Outcomes and Rubrics in Canvas

Dr. Marie McEntee talks about how to use Learning Outcomes and Rubrics in Canvas to engage students and ensure consistency in marking. She demonstrates how to use Rubric analytics to gain insights into student’s performance and to foster improvements in learning outcomes.

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