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Below are descriptions of three kinds of rubrics – holistic, atomistic, analytic – with samples of each provided.

Word samples can be downloaded and adapted. However, because of potential compatibility issues, PDFs are also available to view and download.

Holistic Rubric

A holistic rubric assesses an assignment as a whole.

Use for these reasons:

    • Quick and efficient to create and grade
    • Provides a description of grades

Things to watch out for:

    • Does not give students much targeted feedback.



Atomistic Rubric

An atomistic rubric assesses individual parts of an assignment and adds points together to arrive at a total grade.

Use for these reasons:

    • Content-focused
    • Useful for clear distinctions between right and wrong

Things to watch out for:

    • Can require hairsplitting distinctions for instructors when grading which students can use to argue about a grade



Analytic Rubric

An Analytic Rubric combines elements of both the holistic and atomistic rubrics. Instructors create descriptions for each achievement level of each criterion. It is the most common kind of rubric currently used.

Use for these reasons:

    • Students get extensive feedback.
    • Leaves less room for argument
    • Easier for instructor to arrive at grade

Things to watch out for:

    • More labor-intensive to set up than either of the other two rubrics.



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