Introduction: Create a Rubric in Blackboard Learn


A rubric is a list of criteria by which students will be assessed. Rubrics include details describing each of the different performance levels for each criterion, as determined by the developer (teacher, instructor, etc.). Rubrics are developed using three main parts:

Criteria. Criteria are the graded categories of the work being assessed. Examples of criteria could be formatting, grammar, specific parts of a paper such as the bibliography or table of contents, and specific lesson objectives. The developer of the rubric has the autonomy to split the 100% score or total points value of the assignment based upon the level of importance that criteria has on the assignment. Typically, the specific lesson objectives that are the new skills students will be expected to perform will carry the most weight. As shown in figure 1-1, the criteria being assessed are listed down the first column of the rubric, one per each row.

Performance Levels. The performance levels are the scale used to measure the skill level of each graded criteria. Experts suggest four to six performance levels on the scale (Minnesota, n.d.) The more performance levels utilized in a rubric, the more specific the learner feedback becomes.

Descriptors. As shown in figure 1-2, the descriptor explains what each specific performance level will require for each criterion that the instructor assess. The descriptions read as performance, should the student earn that performance level rating.

Blackboard Learn

Blackboard Learn as shown in figure 1-3, is a virtual learning environment and course management system developed by Blackboard Inc. It is Web-based server software which features course management, customizable open architecture, and scalable design that allows integration with student information systems and authentication protocols. It may be installed on local servers or hosted by Blackboard ASP Solutions. Its main purposes are to add online elements to courses traditionally delivered face-to-face and to develop completely online courses with few or no face-to-face meetings (Wikipedia, 2018).

Rubric Design

Rubrics can be utilized for subjective assignments but may also be used for assessing a product student creates such as projects and physical creations, written submissions, and other subjective tasks that demonstrate students’ level of understanding. Examples of these performance-based tasks or products within Blackboard Learn can include assignments, blogs and journals, Wikis, discussion board threads, forums, and test question types such as essay, file response or short answer.

When designing rubrics, it is imperative to describe the expectations clearly in each criterion in the task, so students’ performance is maximum. They can also make scoring a student’s performance more efficient and minimize bias when adhering to the descriptors laid out for each criteria and performance level. Table 1-1 gives an example of a rubric that could be used for a research paper that has one learning objective. By matching where the column heading, the performance level, meets the grading criteria on the left side will indicate what the expectations are, the descriptor. Note the criteria listed on any rubric will vary based upon the learning objectives and type of assignment you may be assessing.

  • Development not apparent. At this level, student demonstrates a lack of understanding.
  • Beginning to develop. This performance level is when the student demonstrates initial stages of understanding the skill.
  • Developing. Students receive this rating when they demonstrate minimal understanding and they inconsistently apply the skill.
  • Developed. When a student performs proficiently on a task independently (one way or one time) they earn this performance level.
  • Highly develop. When a student demonstrates proficient understanding and applies the skill in a variety of ways they will earn the highest performance level.

Benefits of Rubrics

The benefits of designing rubrics so the student gains clarity on the expectations for an assignment will also extend to the instructor as well. Rubrics bring a high level of clarity and structure to performance as well as procedural assignments (University, 2016). With proper descriptors, you can virtually eliminate all subjective criticism by matching the observations of a performance to the descriptor in the rubric. The resulting evaluation of the performance, which is based on the descriptor selected for each criterion subsequently acts as quality feedback for the student. Criticism without feedback can halt achievement, thus it is still important to include additional feedback with a scored rubric that explains why the performance level was selected for each criterion. Well-designed rubrics can also increase grading efficiency as well as more calibrated grading (University, 2016).

List of Tools Needed

Login credentials for Blackboard Learn

Role of Course Builder, instructor or system admin

A course to complete this instructable (I used a test course)

Basic understanding of Blackboard Learn (check for helpful information on getting started)

Disclaimer: Not responsible for content added to or removed from your instance of Blackboard Learn. Please ensure you have an understanding of functions and actions within your instance of Blackboard Learn.

Step 1: Log in to Your Instance of Blackboard

Step by step guide to build a rubric in Blackboard Learn

NOTE: Additional information can be accessed from Select your type of access and your version of Blackboard to begin research on rubrics or many other topics.

This step by step guide will begin at the course management level. Ensure you have an understanding of course management, course set up and the course management tab first, then the step by step guide (familiarization).

Step 1 – Log in to your instance of blackboard (see figure 1-4)

Step 2: Navigate

Navigate to the course where the rubric will be utilize

Step 3: Course Management

Navigate to Course Management and open the Control Panel. Click Course Tools to expand the list of
available tools, finally, select Rubrics. (The Rubrics page will open but the side menu will remain)

Step 4: Create

Create Rubric

Step 5: Rubric Information

6a – *Add name (Discussion Forum 1, Assignment 1, etc.)

6b – Add description (if desired add a short description of rubric)

6c – Rubric Detail: Update your specific criteria and performance levels (called Levels of Achievements within Blackboard Learn). Each editable area will be noted below:

Defaults – Blackboard has default criteria and levels of achievement (performance levels; these can all be edited and changed to your desired criteria and/or levels of achievement)

Add Row – This will add a new criterion

Add Colum – This will add a new Level of Achievement

Updating/Changing Criteria – Default criteria can be edited to meet your needs; Click the drop arrow next to the criteria to be edited, then click Edit. Criteria can also be deleted by performing the same functions or you can add Alignments (check for information on alignments).

Once required criteria has been developed, percentage of weight must be updated based upon the importance of the criteria. Below all criteria will be the Total Weight. If all criteria is weighted the same, click Balance Weights.

Updating/Changing Levels of Achievement – Default Levels of Achievements can be edited to meet your needs; Click the drop arrow next to the Level of Achievement to be edited, then click Edit. Levels of Achievement can also be deleted by performing the same functions.

Once Levels of Achievement(s) have been developed, expectations can be added. Describe the expectations clearly in each criterion in the task, so students’ performance is maximized. Finally, determine the percentage for each Level of Achievement (based upon the importance of the criteria).

Step 6: Submit


Step 7: Deploy in Course

8a – Navigate to the content area (assignments, discussion forums, etc.)

8b – Two ways to add rubric: (already developed content or build content)

Already Developed Content: Navigate to Course Management, Course Tools, then Discussion Forums (for this example). Once the discussion forum page loads, click the drop arrow next to the title, click edit, then scroll to Grading. Next to Associated Rubrics, click Add Rubrics, then Select Rubric. The rubric just developed will be available to add. Click the check box, then Submit. Click the content you want to deploy a rubric. Once added, multiple functions are available (move your mouse over each to see options available). Finally, click Submit.

Build Content: Rubrics can be added to Assessments or items available under Tools. For this example, click Tools, then Discussion Board. Next, click Create New Forum. Complete the information required and under Forum Settings, toggle the Grade Discussion Forum: Points possible. This will populate the Associated Rubrics, Add Rubrics button once again. Complete the same steps as noted above to add the rubric to your new discussion forum.

Step 8: Summary

Rubrics, when carefully planned and executed, can increase student achievement as well as increase grading efficiency and consistency when grading highly subjective assignments. Rubrics include three main parts, which all play a significant role in gaining clarity of the instructor’s expectations for the multiple criteria the assignment is assessing. The performance levels mark the multiple levels of learning the student may demonstrate their skill level of the criteria on an assignment, and the descriptors for each criterion explains the requirements the student is expected to demonstrate for each performance level.

Step 9: References

University of Minnesota (n.d.). Creating Rubrics. Retrieved from University of Minnesota:

Carnegie Mellon University (2016). Eberly Center Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation. Retrieved from Carnegie Mellon University:

Wikipedia (2018). Blackboard Learn. Retrieved from Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia:

Figure 1-1 Criteria and Performance Levels (Accessed 15 February 2018 from

Figure 1-2 Descriptor Examples (Accessed 15 February 2018) from

Figure 1-3 Blackboard Learn (from Air Force Services Activity) (Accessed 15 February 2018) from

Figure 1-4 Blackboard Learn Log In (from Air Force Services Activity) (Accessed 15 February 2018) from

Figure 1-5 Blackboard Learn Rubric Information (from Air Force Services Activity) (Accessed 15 February 2018) from