I believe that rubrics are an excellent way to keep the grading process as fair and evenly balanced as possible, especially when first beginning to grade student writing. With a well developed rubric that has clear evaluation criteria I will be able to communicate to my students what it is that I am looking for in their writing, which will help them while writing, but will also help me when I am reading their assignments.
I think it is very important to judge a paper by its whole, rather than breaking it down into individual pieces. For this reason, my rubric will be primarily holistic measurements; there will be some items where I am simply checking off boxes (does the essay have a clear thesis statement? Are the sources cited properly?), but I will mainly be judging the paper as finished product rather than as the sum of its parts.
I have included below an example of a rubric that I might use in my classroom:
5 – a 5 paper commands attention because of its insightful development and mature style. It presents a cogent analysis of or response to the text, elaborating that response with well-chosen examples and persuasive reasoning. The 5 paper shows that its writer can usually choose words aptly, use sophisticated sentences effectively, and observe the conventions of written academic English, as well as construct a thoughtful, well-reasoned argument.
4 – a 4 paper is satisfactory. It presents a thoughtful analysis of or response to the text, elaborating that response with appropriate examples and sensible reasoning. A 4 paper typically has a less fluent and complex style than a 5, but does show that its writer can usually choose words accurately, vary sentences effectively, and observe the conventions of written academic English while presenting a logical argument.
3 – a 3 paper is unsatisfactory in one or more of the following ways: it may analyze or respond to the text illogically, it may lack coherent structure or elaboration with examples; it may reflect an incomplete understanding of the text or the topic. Its prose is usually characterized by at least one of the following: frequently imprecise word choice; little sentence variety; occasional major errors in grammar and usage, or frequent minor errors. The argument of a 3 paper is generally weak, whether due to lack of examples, inattention to counter-arguments, or logical fallacies.
2 – a 2 paper shows serious weaknesses, ordinarily of several kinds. It frequently presents a simplistic, inappropriate, or incoherent analysis of or response to the text, one that may suggest some significant misunderstanding of the text or the topic. Its prose is usually characterized by at least one of the following: simplistic or inaccurate word choice; monotonous or fragmented sentence structure; many repeated errors in grammar and usage. The argument of a 2 paper is unsound, either due to a lack of concrete examples, or the presence of logical fallacies.
1 – a 1 paper may disregard the topic’s demands, or it may lack any appropriate pattern of structure or development. It may be inappropriately short. It often has a pervasive pattern of errors in word choice, sentence structure, grammar, and usage. A 1 paper might be entirely off-topic, lacking a coherent argument, or impossible to follow.
This rubric has been adapted from this source: rubric_examples