Adjust your expectations and rethink the rubric

Rubrics show great promise as both a way to communicate expectations and to assess performance. In just a few short years, rubrics have become an essential resource in the race to make higher education more accountable. Can it be long before this unpretentious tool, once confined to k-12 classrooms, finds its way to the workplace? How can we best employ rubrics in the assessment and evaluation of workplace learning and performance?

Figure 1: Analytic rubric

Figure 1: Analytic rubric

Two Types of Rubrics
In its simplest form, a rubric is a document that defines the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria and describing levels of quality (Andrade 2000). The typical rubric is a single-page matrix containing three essential features: evaluation criteria, quality definitions, and a scoring strategy. There are two primary types of rubrics, analytic and holistic. The analytic rubric is used most frequently and lists performance outcomes in the left column with levels of performance listed in the column headings (See Figure 1). In analytic rubrics, each performance outcome is assessed individually while in the holistic rubric, all criteria are listed and applied simultaneously to identify an overall judgment about the work. Regardless of the type of rubric used, all rubrics must have a clear description of criteria for evaluation over a continuum of quality.

Promising Results

Kathy Iverson is a professor and department chair for Roosevelt University's Training and Development graduate program. She teaches organization development, cultural diversity, research methodology, training foundations, consulting, and evaluation.

Kathy Iverson is a professor and department chair for Roosevelt University’s Training and Development graduate program.

In a study of adult students in business courses, the response to rubrics was overwhelmingly positive. Rubrics helped students see the link between learning objectives and outcomes by articulating the expectations of assignments, leading to increased performance (Bolton, 2006). Schneider (2006) also found a positive response to rubrics in higher education, with a caveat. Although 88% of college students found rubrics useful when they received them at the time the assignment was given only 10% of students found rubrics useful when provided after the assignment was graded. When given ahead of time, rubrics help students to clarify the work targets, self-regulate their progress, and make grading transparent and fair, but when shared after the fact, they have little value.

Students are not the only parties that benefit from rubrics In their defining work, Herman, Aschbacher, and Winter (1992) indicated that a carefully constructed scoring rubric will:

  • Help teachers define excellence and plan instruction that will help students achieve it;
  • Communicate to students what constitutes excellence and how to evaluate their own work;
  • Communicate goals and results to parents and others;
  • Help teachers or other raters be accurate, unbiased, and consistent in scoring assignments and projects; and
  • Document procedures used in making important judgments about student work.

So how do we take the rubric to work?
If rubrics support instructional design, link objectives to outcomes, enhance expectations, and increase performance, why are we not using them in workplace learning and performance? Perhaps it’s because they are viewed primarily as an academic tool, found mostly in the k-12 arena, or perhaps trainers, HR professionals, and adult learning experts don’t know how to create rubrics. In any case, it’s time for the rubric to continue its maturation process moving from grammar school to high school, college, and now graduation to the workplace.

Do you think rubrics have a place in the training evaluation? If so, how might the best be used? What are the barriers to the application of rubrics in workplace learning and assessment? How might we overcome them?


Andrade, H. (2000). Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership, 57(5), 13-18.
Bolton, F. C. (2006). Rubrics and Adult Learners: Andragogy and Assessment. Assessment Update, 18(3), 5-6.
Herman, J. L., Aschbacher, P. R., & Winters, L. (1992). A practical guide to alternative assessment. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Schneider, F. J. (2006). Rubrics for teacher education in community college. Community College Enterprise, 12(1), 39-55.


  • This is a great question, should rubrics have a place in training evaluations? I am on the fence about having a rubric in training because you have an outline of objectives that should direct and guide the trainer and the learner’s performances. If we did have rubrics for training, I don’t think it would work for all types of training but not quite sure how this would work. However, I am in huge support of having a rubric in the workplace. It would be great for the workers and management to have a clear and systematic way of performing various tasks. Having an example of what is expected and understanding what excellence looks like to the organization would probably help a lot of people on the job.

  • I think rubrics have a place in training evaluations. Both for the trainer and the participant. It’s important that both sides have clear expectations.

    When you consider rubrics as related to workplace performance I feel as though they are already being used as related to yearly performance reviews. Job duties plus expectations provide the action the manager takes when evaluating and employee. As long as the employee has the duties and desired outcome it’s essentially an extremely simple rubric. I do think, based on company, a more defined rubric could be used. For example, the use of the 9Box performance tool might also be considered a rubric as related to reviews.

  • I think rubrics do have a place in workplace training evaluation though it may not be for all training programs. I think it would be most beneficial for in depth courses focused on skill development and that allow employees the opportunity to practice the skill(s). Furthermore, can be a evaluation but with a training program there may be multiple evaluations. For instance, in my organization, I worked with the training team to develop a presentation skills certification course that all employees would need to take if they desired to deliver external presentations to clients. It consisted of a rubric with 3 levels of a presenter (1 for beginners and 3 for experts). The rubric is used to assess the level that an employee would fall after completing an their initial presentation in the beginning of the program. We then use the evaluation results to work with the employee to create a individualized development plan which consisted of their development opportunities and the training and coaching they would receive to help them improve. At the end of the program, the employee gives a final presentation using the same rubric to see if they have increased in a level as a result of the coaching and training received in the program.

  • Willie A. Edwards II

    A rubric is a great tool to use in place of standard checklists when evaluating performance-based activities.

    The Department of Energy (DOE) National Training Center (NTC) Basic Instructor Training (BIT) Course is a 5-day course designed to teach DOE personnel how to prepare for and teach technical training. Since most of the students are subject matter experts with little to no training experience, the course teaches them how to instruct within the DOE. The students give 5 presentations during the course. Before 2015, these presentations were evaluated using a checklist. While each statement in the checklist was well-written and based on objectives, this process was not providing objective information. Since passing was “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory,” the instructor would make a judgment call on whether the student met the standard. After speaking with an instructor who was familiar with the use of rubrics and having seen one at Roosevelt, I realized this model might be better than using a standard checklist.

    We designed the rubric so that the student would know what was acceptable behavior. The checklist allowed us to evaluate a single task and its subtasks. For example, Vocal Techniques included sub-tasks like Volume, Vocal Variety, and Speed. With the checklist, if they didn’t do well on one subtask, we would note it. If they got the rest of the subtasks correct, they would pass the evaluation. With the rubric, we were able to identify if an item was missed and how many points would be lost. The total number of points per task determined if they passed or failed. With this system in place, we were able to better evaluate the speaker and provide them with objective feedback. Over time, we saw presentations improve as students worked to get all the points available in the rubric.

    I believe that using a rubric to evaluate presentations is a huge benefit. I can see it being used for many other performance-based applications that have used checklists as the primary means of evaluation.

  • Reflection
    I can’t remember back to when I was in my undergrad – 2005 – however, I am quite certain rubrics were handed out along with our syllabus on the first day of class each semester in some of my classes. Especially in our “upper-division” management classes that you had to test into, course work was rigorous and expectations were high, so rubrics were a documented and fair way to convey expectations. However, I do know that a lot of my classes were also graded on a bell curve, so it was quite impossible to get an A, but also quite impossible to get a D or below, so a lot of us ended up with Bs and Cs. Not sure how a rubric can combat a bell curve grading system since there are only a designated amount of As?

    Rubrics in the workplace

    When I worked at an ad agency, we had rubrics as part of our 365 evaluations so expectations were clear on how to receive a promotion and move into a higher position. For example, if you wanted to be in a director-level position, you had to get a certain score from your colleagues on the evaluation, as well as speak on a number of panels at industry events. I don’t recall this rubric being followed 100%, as sometimes by need or politics, people were promoted, however, I generally felt that it was a fair way to score individuals’ readiness to move into a higher position.

    I think Kirkpatrick’s 5 levels of evaluation is a rubric in a sense as you need to go through each level to move to the next in training evaluation and each level clearly defines what is being evaluated and there is generally an industry standard of “how” to conduct that level of evaluation. I also think during the evaluation process coming up with a dashboard, metrics, and benchmarks that data will be evaluated against is also a rubric in a sense. I think one barrier of a rubric is that some elements of it can be subjective like quality and performance stands, and it’s not always a black & white, clear cut way to score something, but overall it’s generally regarded as a fair method to convey expectations.

  • I did not hear of a rubric until I was in college in 2012. We would simply have a few details of what the teacher was looking for in a report or essay and that was it. And that worked too. It is just a guideline for us to go by and decide how hard we want to work for the grade we want. I think rubrics would be a great addition to the training and development field. Facilitators can use them on each other and themselves to evaluate their training efforts. And we can use them for the audience in front of us for them to know what to expect. The setup may be a little different but the concept of a rubric would be there. I personally don’t look at rubrics much. I glance at them and that’s it. But they look to be very useful for some.

  • Using a rubric for training makes complete sense. I never used them when I was in elementary school or high school. I think college, and I started college in my 30s, was the first time I seen a rubric for an assignment. I personally don’t look at them often, but I do skim over it at least. But it could be a good tool for training guidelines. Our audience will benefit greatly from knowing what to expect from their learning experience. And trainers can also use the rubric as a guideline for their own checklist to ensure they reach everything they can.

  • Pingback: Financial Plan Rubric - financial plan blog - financial plan blog

  • Rubrics in the workplace are already a part of most individuals’ lives. Think of a team member’s annual performance evaluation. Most team members know the requirements of their position and how to best fulfil them, this is a rubric in and of itself. When you are evaluated on qualitative work in a quantitative format, this becomes second nature to ‘become your best self’. I often see rubrics used in my line of work (healthcare) not only to measure performance, but success in learning and continuing education. Personally, I find this the best way to evaluate a team member’s skillset and provide constructive feedback when it is appropriate.

  • Rubrics provide a vertical set of performance criteria against horizontal measures of effectiveness.Rubrics help to make things clear what is expected of employees in their current position as well as what is necessary for them to achieve a promotion and/or raise. Rubrics can also remind them of the brand promise as it relates to their work. Rubrics works well in organizations with clearly defined tiers, but they can also help define tiers in organizations where the tiers are blurry. The rubric above provides a sense of how this might look for an organization with three tiers (junior, at level, senior).

  • Using rubrics provide clear expectations and transferring them to the workplace seems to be a natural progression. When employees understand fully what is expected of them, the opportunity for ambiguity lessens. This helps to save time on gaining clarity. Rubrics are a communication tool. In today’s fast pace highly connected work world, the need to check ones progress against goals illustrated in a rubric, keeps the employee on track with the overall strategic plan. They ultimately serve as is vital and useful self-assessment development tool because they help both the employee and the employer continuously refine benchmarks and best-practices. .

  • This article presents an interesting point that I have not considered before. As a graduate student, rubrics are continuously in my view and they do help clarify the standards of performance, as well as the outcomes and objectives. But in the workplace, I see rubrics used infrequently. Why? The main reason for workplace learning is to increase performance and to demonstrate that in measurable ways, so it would make sense to use a rubric.

    One reason for the lack of rubrics in the workplace may be that the objectives of a training program are tied to the employee’s performance charts, that are usually reviewed and updated monthly or yearly. Training development in the workplace may consist of developing the objectives of a training program, but those involved may not be asking the question “how does this training increase the employee’s performance in a way that can be measured during the monthly or annual review cycle?”.

    This could, and should, change! Rubrics in the workplace that tie into measurable results could both help clarify the performance objects and demonstrate measurable ROI to the organization.

  • Rubrics have a place in training evaluation! They’re critical in bridging a gap between evaluators and employees and clearly communicate the expectations and guidelines for what constitutes satisfactory/unsatisfactory results. Rubrics are crucial to measuring performance.

    A challenge that arises with rubrics is that the language needs to be clear and concise. The creator must clearly convey exact actions that connect back to explicit objectives. I think that when a new rubric gets presented, it may take a while for the “culture” of the rubric to catch on and people can see where certain actions/performance skills fall. I don’t think rubrics are always a wholesome reflection of one’s capabilities, but they provide a good starting point that assimilates work force culture.

  • I am very much a fan of integrating rubrics into training evaluation. On a side note, I’m happy that’s where this article went to. The title “Rethinking the rubric” made me assume this would be about a negative article about how rubrics are inadequate. I’m glad to see it took quite a spin in the other direction. With regards to the question of whether rubrics should be integrated into instructional development, my answer is a unanimous yes. With the question of how they might be used I think a good topic was brought up in the article regarding how rubrics can be even more helpful in the planning stages. They give a very detailed outline of what is expected by higher ups and allow the learner to follow them and make modifications based on self-evaluation.
    Barriers to rubrics in the workplace, in my opinion, center on the fact that people very rarely want to be forced to change their own ways. It sounds negative as I say it but getting people to truly want to learn is difficult. Once someone is made aware that they are being evaluated on such a critical level they may become apprehensive or even resentful. The solution to this may be simply giving people access to rubrics more frequently. I must admit, before entering into my bachelor’s in education I was completely unfamiliar with what a rubric was. I think some other Individuals who may not be used to an academic setting may not understand how universal they have become and see them as a threat. Once they are integrated to the culture, they will be less threatening.

  • A rubric is a guide to evaluate the performance of an individual or group. A rubric is important because it gives learners a clear outline of what is expected of them. In the workplace a rubric can be used to aid in an evaluation of a team or an individual. Employers can give their employees a rubric to be used as a guide to see what a job entails or it can be used as a performance evaluator.

  • I certainly enjoyed reading this article and I didn’t know there were different types. I personally like rubrics as it helps me to understand the expectations of a course and what I need to strive for the best grade. So, I appreciate them. I personally believe rubrics have a place in training evaluation. It would be nice to have a rubric to define the standards and guidelines for performance measurement. I think it could be used to as part of the level 3 evaluation process. If given to both managers and employees, there is a standard guideline to use to determine if what was learned was transferred back to the job.

    However, many companies use rubrics today for performance reviews, but in order for the rubrics to add value in an organization, the rubric needs to be used consistently in departments; otherwise it can be subjective. So, I believe this could be a barrier, which is ensuring leaders and managers use the rubric in all evaluations / performance reviews. A way to overcome this is for top executives to hold those leaders/managers accountable and stress the importance of rubrics or whatever they want to call. I know our sourcing and procurement department uses scorecards to evaluate a suppliers’ performance. Once a contract is signed with a certain supplier, we use scorecards to determine their performance and delivery to the company.

    I think another barrier could be defining the rubric itself as an organization may not have the right people who know how to create them. It takes time to develop a rubric and sometimes organizations rush to get things done too often. There definitely needs to be some thought put into developing the “right” rubric and ensuring it goes through the proper reviews and approvals.

  • This is a great article! I work for a large snow company and we used self designed rubrics for each department to evaluate a mock run of a snow event for the whole company. Each department head described in detail what would constitute an A, C, & F result.

    For me it was extremely eye opening to be able to define what success and failure looked like in detail with measurable results. I do think sometimes we are all moving too fast and are quick to say “it worked!” without really breaking down what happened and how we could fix it.

    Using these rubrics, we were able to evaluate and implement targeted training in the areas that needed improvement before the snow actually hit.

    • Kelly, I agree that rubrics are needed to tell people to slow down and focus on what should be accomplished! This is a great example of how rubrics can be used as a scoring tool to evaluate skill level and training. I am glad that you were able to use the rubric to set expectations and provide feedback.

  • I like the idea of a rubric in the workplace. I think back to when I received a rubric in college for a project. It let me know exactly what I needed to do in order to get the grade I wanted or deserved.

    In the same way, rubrics in the workplace could work as performance standards. For example, in the next quarter, you should complete at least 2 training courses. These courses should have some sort of rating above 80%, then 70%, 60%, etc. To me, it’s basically having specific, measurable goals for your job laid out in rubric form.

    Barriers would include the name “rubric,” as I believe it naturally correlates to school, and I think some people wouldn’t like that “little kid” school term in the workplace. An easy way to overcome it would be to uses rubrics but don’t call them that. Give them a new name like performance standards, or scorecards.

  • Rubrics most definitely have a place in the workplace learning space. As Instructional designers we write objectives and as the blog article stated, “If rubrics link objectives to outcomes why aren’t we using them in the workplace?” Rubrics should be used as the criteria to assess the outcome of each objective. When so many of us struggle with defining the criterion when writing objectives, simply use a rubric as a way to judge if the criteria is truly being met by the learner

    Some obstacles faced when using rubrics is not using them, but creating them. It takes time and a lot of cognitive power. The designer has to have clear objectives and then be able to communicate what those objectives are on the rubric. Also the designer needs to differentiate between what constitutes no credit, some credit or all credit to be given for each category being assessed on the rubric.

    How does one overcome this? Practice makes progress. I find as an educator who uses rubrics and receives many compliments from my students and parents for using them, the more I write them, the easier it becomes. It also helps when you have clear objectives (what you want the learners to accomplish). Lastly, allow yourself enough time to write thorough rubrics.

    Simply put, as instructional designers we write objectives so let’s begin writing rubrics to assess our objectives.


  • Therese Pompei Cabrera

    Rubrics are designed to assist in identifying and evaluating qualitative differences in student’s performance. I think that rubrics have a place in training evaluation as it allows employees to have a clear understanding of performance expectations, and provides a clear understanding of what they need to accomplish. In a workplace, rubrics could be used in performance evaluations. Everyone will see what skills and training are needed for advancement, merit increases, and even promotions. Rubrics are direct and provides consistency when it comes to evaluation across all employees. As a student now who uses rubrics to see where my performance stand compare to my professor’s expectations, I could also see how rubrics will help employees self correct or assess themselves when it comes to their own performances. It’s beneficial to look back and see what else you need to do to achieve your goal.

    Some barriers to the application of rubrics in workplace learning could be setting up vague expectations with no clear measure. I think it is important to note how each levels/ rankings are different, and what differs each construct from the other. This could be a set back, and could leave managers and even employees to fall out of setting up their expectations and understand what they skills they need to accomplish their goal. This is similar to constructing a clear objectives, if you do not have a clear indication of what you would like to measure, or what you would like your trainees to achieve, it will be hard to determine what needs to be improved, or see if they have learned anything.

  • Mary Zmorzynski Dojutrek

    Are performance levels the barriers to applying rubrics in workplace learning? Most job descriptions only detail what success looks like. In a work environment, is the expectation that employees should always perform at the A+ level, therefore, unnecessary to describe average or unsatisfactory.

    In academia, students pay tuition, and therefore, determine the amount of effort they invest to achieve their desired result whether A+ or “not quite there yet.” However, at work, employees are paid, and companies expect the best instead of “not quite there yet.”

    Either way, in the workplace or academics, everyone benefits knowing what success looks like up front, and a rubric can serve as that window. How can anyone be expected to meet expectations if they do not completely understand what those expectations are?

  • I believe that rubrics have a place in the training evaluation. In my organization rubrics are used in various departments to have a clear understanding of their expectations. They help guide and gives a clear expectation of what is expected and needed to perform well. I’ve seen this to be good and not so good. One of the barriers could be that for some employees the rubric could be an obstacle that might get in the way of them performing their job well because they are trying to hard to keep up with the expectations of the rubrics. The rubric could be very intimidating for some of the employee. This could be a lot of pressure for an individual to handle.

  • Rubrics in workplace learning and assessment provide the same benefits as they do in the classroom. Employees will have a clear understanding of expectations, how they measure to those expectations and give employees a goal to work towards. Rubrics in the workplace will also convey a manager’s judgement of their performance which provides an opportunity for feedback. Rubrics can be used in annual performance reviews and other scheduled check-ins on employee performance. Additionally, rubrics create a sense of fairness because all employees in that group will be measured by the same standards.

    A barrier to rubrics in the workplace can be constant change in job descriptions and responsibilities. New projects, organization changes or overworked managers make updating a rubric difficult to complete in a timely manner. Rubrics would need to be a constant priority and updates would need to be made quickly. Good evaluations tools require an investment of time and consideration that often make them difficult to execute on if they are not a priority. And if rubrics are not updated, they lose their relevance to employees.

  • Michael A. Sullivan

    Yes, I do think rubrics have a place in training evaluations. Training evaluations should be used throughout the process to ensure members understand where they are at and where they have been. Rubrics are a great tool to help members identify progress.
    A few barriers I see with rubrics could be that they are not measure or using the right skill set for individual measurement. I can also see that if the rubric is not well designed that it misleads individuals and doesn’t accurately portray the necessary learning outcome desired.
    Ways we can overcome this is by collaborating with others. Asking subject matter experts or the audience their thoughts on the content that will need the rubric. We can also use reference materials to support our objective and goals in the rubric.

  • From my perspective, rubrics absolutely have a place in training evaluation. After OD professionals have engaged the leadership team to identify what the expectations are for training and the participants after they complete the training experience, the best next step for the design of the training or OD program is to design a rubric that will clearly outline the learning objectives and performance expectations during the training experience and after with job application. This is a communication and accountability tool for all impacted stakeholders amongst the participants, the OD professional and the leadership team. After all, people pay attention to what their leaders pay attention to in the workplace. If there is an expectation of measurement and a performance standard, participants are more likely to demonstrate the behaviors that align to those expectations. I have had the positive experience of working in an environment where rubrics have been used to set expectations and measure performance for many years. When I assess the challenges that my workplace has experienced with using rubrics successfully, there is a gap between what the performance expectations are and how employees are trained and developed to meet those expectations. Also, the rubric is not always referenced during performance evaluation, resulting in an inconsistent experience from leader to leader or more subjective assessment of the quality of work provided. Solutions to this include performance evaluation based on actual observation of performance to evaluate observable behaviors and talent review calibrations in which leaders discuss the performance of their team members with peers and members of the HR team (to add a layer of objectivity and minimize group think) to encourage consistency in evaluation and peer discussion where there may be bias or inconsistency.

  • Do you think rubrics have a place in the training evaluation? If so, how might the best be used? What are the barriers to the application of rubrics in workplace learning and assessment? How might we overcome them?

    In the workplace as well as the schools, a rubric is used as a guideline or measurement. It’s the expectation of one who does a good, fair, or poor job. We use them in our performance reviews to ensure were fair across the board. Is it subject to interpretation, yes, but it’s a guideline for performance and expectation.

    There are no barriers as long as the expectations in the rubrics are used as job specific. Meaning that once someone changes to a different position there is a rubric expectation for them to follow. It takes the confusion out what’s (additional training) expected.

  • I find rubrics to be truly helpful when completing an assignment because it helps me to know exactly what the professor is looking for in my work. I agree that rubrics are most helpful when given before the assignment is due but I can see how they would also be helpful when giving them to students attached to their work for grading purposes. This will help the student know exactly what area their work lacked in. I never thought about using them in the workplace but I can truly see how this can be helpful for an employee to know what is expected of them.

  • I can’t say that I am a 100% fan of rubrics. Yes, the consensus is rubrics are put in place to make grading “fair” as well as a tool for self-grading/self-assessment but wouldn’t it be easier to just outline what your expectations are and grade according to that rather than squeeze expectations in boxes and assign value.

    If I think about it, rubrics are already in the workplace. They are used after the fact during the employees yearly performance evaluations. They too are placed in boxes and values are then assigned, exceed, meet, and doesn’t meet. Now companies are requiring IDPs, Individual Development Plan, to be used alongside the “rubric” they use to assess you.

    I don’t know if rubrics in the workplace, although we have them, is a good idea. For me, this allows me to work inside a box making sure I hit all the bullets in hopes that my employer agrees with my assessment of myself. Rubrics, in my opinion, are like having an insurance card, They are there just in case you need it.

    Research by Julie Quast and Angela Stanford suggest We need to be clear on our purpose for utilizing a rubric. Is it a learning tool, an assessment tool, or can it be both? Perhaps, we have viewed the rubric as having a single purpose, but when we look at what we need (assessment) and what the student needs (reflection) we find the rubric can provide both. By ensuring students attend to the criteria and reflect on the feedback, the rubric can be a learning tool, not just an assessment tool.

    An interesting article to read is The Trouble with Rubrics By Alfie Kohn

  • I’ll begin by saying that I’m a bit of a fan of rubrics. I do not use them currently in my workplace (although I can think of instances where we might be able to) but they did surface in an ISD that I made for a previous course. Just as the article sells it, the rubric was important on having the instructor and the student understand the same quality of work. In my case, I’d referenced the rubric in some of my learning objectives to represent the degree of success that was desired. For some objectives–whether they’re multilayered or just hard to qualify in a yes/no fashion, a rubric could be useful.

    I did receive rubrics in some of my undergrad courses, and in my high school courses. I’d use them as a guide for my papers and could usually be pretty confident in my resulting grade even before the teacher reviewed my work. That was the benefit, I had control over the work I produced and responsibility over it. think that the reason they aren’t used in workplaces so much is maybe due to the ‘grading’ aspect feeling too personal to the person following the rubric. Will they resist it?. It’s one thing to say that a person didn’t meet their goals or performance requirements but maybe another to then grade the quality of that job. Maybe.I don’t really agree and I’m surprised that it isn’t used more often.

    I also agree with the article stating that they weren’t as helpful after the fact. That seems, in a way, counter to the purpose. With any objectives or goals, the students should be made aware so why would the criteria for their rubric be a mystery? The difference of a rubric meant an understanding on what needed to be achieved. One of the biggest advantages for rubrics would be for the evaluators. If 4 T&D professionals were asked to review the work of a group fresh out of raining, how do they know they are giving the same weight to their judgement as the next guy? Is one particularly concerned with marking off grammar while the next really doesn’t think it matters? Without a rubric, evaluation can change and the results for the evaluation may not be consistent. I don’t think everything needs a rubric, there might be specific instances where one comes in handy, but in those instances rubrics are likely an essential option.

    I think a potential challenge in bringing rubrics into the wokplace is agreeing on the standards of each level. I also think that there has to be buy-in for those who are being evaluated by the rubric. Does it feel useful to them? When writing papers in high school, I referenced my rubric often to be sure I was on task… In a workplace where people are concerned with fast completion — does a rubric add more complexity than it solve?

  • I do not remember being given rubrics in my undergrad program, but I graduated over ten years ago. I truly appreciate receiving them for all assignments in the MATD program at RU, and they help guide my work. I think rubrics do have a place in the training evaluation. In fact, they remind me a lot of the competency-based evaluation and elevation model my firm has for associate attorneys. We set competency benchmarks for each box on a grid, and salaries are based on what box you are in. This allows associates to progress at their own pace but always know what is expected of them at their current level and at their goal level. So I see rubrics being used in training evaluation in a similar fashion in any industry or field with skills that need to be mastered. It can allow learners to work their way toward mastery of a skill or area of expertise by working their way through training at their own pace while knowing what is expected of them through their trainings. I think it adds value in letting high performers work through a curriculum or mastery quickly and doesn’t punish lower performers.

    I think the biggest hurdle to this use of rubric in training evaluation is the possible pushback with implementation. Those who have been in an organization for a long time but aren’t looking to advance or who haven’t sought out training might see it as a way to punish them or push them out while rewarding others. To overcome this barrier, I think the rollout of such a model would need to be carefully executed with communication and branding that educate learners on how to use the new system to their advantage. This should hopefully help with buy-in from everyone.

  • I find it interesting that some instructors choose to provide rubics after an assignment. I’m not quite sure I understand the purpose of this option. By the completion of the assignment, presenting it for the simple reason of informing the students on how they were evaluated, is somewhat pointless. I do believe that it is useful to revisit the document after one has completed the assignment as received feedback on their work. Otherwise, it seems like an afterthought. Providing the rubics ahead of time can assist the students in further understanding the expectations of the instructor and the assignment.

    In regards to the barriers of incorporating rubrics into workplace learning, I’m not quite sure of any in particular. I feel that it can be quite helpful in the employee’s understanding of their role and their employer’s expectations.

    We use something similar to a rubic for our student staff called a performance guideline. If I were to compare it to a rubic, I would say that it is more of an analytic rubic. It addresses a list of the staff’s responsibilities and “work action” that takes place if these expectations are not met. I’m curious to know if this would even be considered an example of a rubic. If you’re reading this, please share your thoughts. If you have any clarifying questions, please share as well. I am open to continuing the conversation regarding this document.


  • Rubrics in the workplace; what an interesting idea! I certainly think of rubrics as tools of academia, with their most relevant home in the realm of K-12. I recall, at the beginning of my Roosevelt career, being a bit amused at the use of a rubric. Perhaps it was my lack of recent academic experience -I had a 40 year break from starting my undergrad degree to enrolling at Roosevelt to complete it – that led to not being familiar with its collegiate use. As a mom, however, I had reviewed plenty of rubrics with my kids and felt this tool did a good job of underscoring the specific performance required.
    In reflecting on the question, however, I believe the best use of the rubric in the workplace, is in the area of employee development as opposed to training. The specific application, in my opinion, is how a rubric could be used in conjunction with performance plans removing the subjectivity that often occurs at review time. In fact, as a manager of people, I would welcome the having a rubric that would provide me with guidelines for applying a performance rating, and eventually a financial award, and possible promotional opportunity.
    What if the rubric was applied to the performance plan indicating the “rating” an employee would achieve based on activities and accomplishments? One could argue that a performance document is a guideline to the performance expected, and anything less is not acceptable. I would counter-argue that establishing strong performance measures for which an employee should strive, but providing them with a rubric for impact of less than superlative performance would remove ambiguity and subjectivity, while clearly establishing clear outcomes.

  • I think rubrics are an amazing tool that helps the learner identify what is expected of them out of the assignment. I believe it helps lead to a learner’s success by knowing the levels that they are being graded/measured on. As the article “Rubrics helped students see the link between learning objectives and outcomes by articulating the expectations of assignments, leading to increased performance (Bolton, 2006). ” If objectives are meant to be measurable, then I believe the rubric provides the level they are to be measures, which leads to the ability to evaluate at which level the learner understood the content. As far as rubrics being used in the workplace, if the training is one in which assignments or tasks are given and measured i believe this could definitely be just as useful as it is in school and higher learning. I think the problem lies in the fact that not all work training provides assignments or tasks. For instance, my company does not want mandatory training nor do they wish to make the users complete assessments or tasks to “pass” the class. Training to my company is an offer or option but not a necessity due to their time being money and if you are training, in there eyes you aren’t making money. If we can further increase the importance of training, as well as the importance of assessing the outcomes or evaluating the users level of learning the content then rubrics would have a place in workplace training.

  • Rubrics are the foundation to what to expect from facilitators, it holds accountability and unbiased evaluations. Rubrics being introduced in a workplace I think are a great idea that can help with performance expectations, support the company’s mission and set standards for achieving goals within an organization. Nonetheless, rubrics will help Trainers with setting a clear communication, develop strong leadership skills and help them to provide positive constructive feedback.

  • There are people out there that are hungry to be the best they can be. They compete with themselves in order to raise their performance. I think if you create a rubric those people will look it over, and if positioned properly, they will attempt to perform to the highest level. A WIIFM to align top performance, grade, with job performance would help here. I think it’s a great way to give them a continued measure of what success looks like. I don’t think it will work if it’s not designed properly and then if that design is lost in translation. There is a lot that can go wrong when building a rubric in the work place. However, if carefully built to align with job performance and explained as such, I think it will help those who want to take their career to the next level.

  • I think that rubrics are a great way for trainer’s to evaluate their success ratio specifically for preparation of content prior to class facilitation. I have seen multiple trainers prepare for the same class in multiple, different ways and sometimes that can create inconsistencies in the delivery to the learners. I believe that having a specific guideline of a clear and concise rubric to differentiate between the needs of what works versus what is mediocre preparation can be a great way for trainers to use formative self-evaluation.

    This would create uniformity and a conformity of a better customer experience, hence trainers that are striving to reach the best outcome and goal based on the rubric will be better prepared when facilitating the content and will play a more effective role in how they prepare their content, instead of just “winging it”. Therefore, I am an advocate for introducing rubrics into the workplace of trainer preparation.

    This would change and shift the mindset of showing the value in trainers due to all trainers would have the same level of foundation based on the needs and receptive to feedback if they don’t reach the benchmark.

  • Kiára Nichele Elam

    I love how useful rubrics are. It is typically the first thing that I look at after viewing the details for an assignment. Rubrics ensure that I stay on track when completing an assignment, and also that I am including the necessary components in order to obtain the highest satisfactory grade possible. With that being said, I feel that rubrics can definitely be used within training evaluation. Using a rubric will allow transparency for the participants so that they know what objectives are being measured and how the training will be effective for them. More workplaces should consider incorporating rubrics into training evaluations, and by doing so, I believe that employee motivation and performance can increase due to the participants wanting to meet the standards that are provided to them.

  • Rubrics can be very useful in training evaluation because they can help inform learners about the goals and objectives of the training and how attainment of those goals and objectives might be measured. They also offer a clear framework for providing feedback and help learners to organize that information and process it. This can help learners self-evaluate as they apply new learning on the job, and it can be a useful general tool for reviewing or reinforcing the training. As the post suggests, the main barrier might be the cultural one—rubrics are associated with the context of student education rather than the context of learners in the workplace. This might be overcome through reframing their significance through gradual and strategic introduction into workplace training contexts.

  • I love this article, a rubric is something that we have seen over and over in our lives hundreds, perhaps thousands of times. Rubrics are blueprints to students, teachers, employees, and employers as well. Rubrics are very important so the have a place in training evaluation. I think that having defined rubrics in the workplace will give employees a better insight on what exactly what their jobs are. I also think that after a training session, a rubric keeps the skills of the student sharp, based on how relevance of the rubric, and the frequency it is reviewed.

    I think the biggest barrier with rubrics in general is getting the audience interested. I catch myself looking at the rubrics especially as a student that wants a high grade in every class I take. I have so many rubrics at work, and I only care for a small percentage as they aren’t all effective for me. I think as an instructor, the rubric should be show in its entirety early, and shown in snippets as we go through the learning process. This has been the best way for me to learn as a student.

  • I think this is a great article. I for one, can honestly say that I have never given any thought to rubrics outside an academic setting. I think rubrics would be immensely effective when evaluating employees annually for a performance review, as well as for bonuses. Providing employees a job description of their role and a rubric when they are hired and/or promoted would be extremely beneficial for proving an employee insight into how their performance will be evaluated, especially when it comes to monetary gains. I can’t believe this hasn’t already been being done, and it’s not a trend for employers.


  • Rubrics definitely have a place in workplace training evaluation! Rubrics help to communicate expectations. They can shape conversations between trainer and trainee. They can also assist in managing the objectives — to ensure they are clear, concise and measurable. Rubrics help set the tone.
    The only limit I can see at the moment is the unfamiliarity of rubrics. If tasked with creating one, the creator may rush the process or not take it seriously enough because they don’t understand or better put, underestimate the value of rubrics. Offering a course on rubrics may be met negatively but if there is possibility to share the impact of rubrics while leaving the option to choose or not choose to use them — i think will garner a better attitude towards implementing rubrics.

  • I agree that rubrics are essential to communicating expectations. I’ve found that a lot of workplace issues can corrected by communicating expectations to workers. Over the years, performance appraisals have gone through various versions at my workplace. The current version includes our first attempt at organizing employee expectations in a rubric. This is helpful for both the employee and the evaluator. First the employee, like a student, knows exactly what type of work they need to complete to receive a specific rating. Secondly, supervisors will be able to better determine how to “grade” performance outcomes in the workplace.

    From my perspective, the time is now and rubrics are here!

  • Absolutely, rubrics have a place in training evaluation and allow me to add, employee evaluation. The post mentions,
    “rubrics help students to clarify the work targets, self-regulate their progress, and make grading transparent and fair, but when shared after the fact, they have little value.” Remove student and simply replace with attendee or employee and rubrics aid in transparency and help equalize the playing field. Having a rubric, removes much of the mystery and subjectivity of the evaluation process. Now I am not so naive as to believe evaluations will always be fair but I do believe that the presence of a rubric makes all more accountable.

  • For me rubics are a necessary part of my learning, whether that relates to my job learning, or my education. They allow the learner (me) to know, in advance, what the expectations are, how they will be used to determine competencies and/or my evaluation. It is then up to me, the learner/employee, to determine how much effort I want to put into my learning/job. It gives me the criteria for which I will be evaluated on, in advance. You will have employees that use that data to do the bare minimum and get by, but it also allows others to know how to exceed expectations and what they need to do in order to accomplish that. Expectations are clearly defined when rubics are utilized, for me that is essential.

    Communication is also enhanced when rubics are used. For example if you are unclear about expectations you can ask in advance, so there are no misunderstandings between the student and teacher, or employee and supervisor. Also, if there are deficiencies that need to be addressed clear data can be presented and used to address them.

  • The longer I’ve been teaching, the more I’ve come to embrace rubrics for even seemingly minor activities. It really helps me organize my own thoughts around grading, and it helps me ensure that I’m applying the same standards to everyone’s work. I’ve also found them useful in cases where a student has challenged their grade, because I can clearly point to the rubric and show which criteria were not satisfactorily demonstrated. Since I’ve been a student again, I’ve also realized how helpful they are when you’re doing an assignment as well. When I was last in school, my instructors rarely ever used rubrics, so I wasn’t accustomed to seeing them for every class until I started the MATD at Roosevelt. Being able to see the rubric in advance lets me assess my own work, and I know my work is better for it. In fact, that’s a huge benefit as a teacher too, because the more (properly scaffolded) self assessment students do, the better the quality of the work they eventually turn in.

    I’ve never considered using rubrics in a workplace, but the more I think about it the more I like the idea. Rubrics define levels of performance, and they set clear expectations. I don’t know that every job would benefit from a rubric, but I think certain tasks, duties within a job, or responsibilities that involve very specific desired results would be ideal places to try a rubric. That would ensure that the employees and managers both know precisely what “good” performance looks like.

    Once potential challenge I see is that rubrics can get quite long and complicated, and this could get unwieldy if you’re trying to create rubrics to assess someone’s total job performance, for instance. I think you could avoid this issue by breaking jobs into smaller components and assessing just one piece at a time, or only using rubrics for targeted, limited purposes (like assessing a customer interaction, which might be one piece going into a larger performance review).

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective on all levels–as a student, a teacher, and also as a workplace learning professional! Also, your point about rubrics becoming cumbersome for total job performance–something to ponder!

  • Rubric’s have helped to guide me in my academic career on numerous occasions because the expectations are clearly stated making it easy to succeed and know what is expected of you. I never thought that a rubric could be applied to work but, now that I am thinking about it, it makes sense! The rubric would outline expectations, deadlines and is a clear form of communication of what an employee needs to accomplish in order to be above average, average, etc.

    Rubric’s would be an asset to training evaluation because it would be a clear cut way to communicate what the criteria should be for a particular training session. It would be used best by perhaps being the actual survey or smile sheet that trainees fill out at the end. For example, instead of spending time (since we know they like to get out afterwards) writing down comments, they can just circle which category or portion of the rubric they felt the presentation took care of.

    The barriers that might appear to the application of rubrics in workplace learning and assessment is that they might be too broad. What I mean by this is that it would overlook important details that are necessary to communicate but, if you include a category to go over these details, then that problem is solved.

  • Great article! I love rubrics. They have helped me greatly by just clearly stating expectations. From a teaching perspective, it also provides a means to justify scores. I definitely think rubrics should and will be incorporated in the workplace and training evaluation as well. Rubrics in training evaluation can allow individuals to become more objective of their own quality of work and also the quality of their peers work. Rubrics in the workplace can also help managers assess skills that do not necessarily fall into the traditional testing or assessment fields.

    One barrier may be the initial time commitment of creating rubrics. Rubrics require attention to detail and an investment of time. In order to overcome this barrier, organizations can take a collective approach to creating rubrics that involve the input of both the employer and employee.

  • Without a doubt, I see a huge value in various forms of the rubric. By ensuring there is clarity around learning objectives and expectations, this type of transparency becomes a means to successful and attainable outcomes for practitioners and learners. For TD or OD departments, effective rubrics can be tough to balance in regards to training interventions. It seems as if they might be most appropriate at the beginning stages of planning and development, similar to the post. Going in with a direct criteria to support strategy is essential and the rubric initiates this. Using it at the evaluation phase might be a traditional method, but if the guidelines are not acknowledged in the beginning, the blog is correct in saying that is seems invalid.

    Some barriers to the rubric being utilized in the workplace, especially when TD practices are in the implementation stage, is the hindrance it can place on creativity. For the practitioner, having a set of rules to meet success may damper confidence and stifle innovation. For the learner, getting a rubric that is too restrictive or demanding might pause creative methods for learning, and shelter the ideals that freely come without constraints.

  • I have always liked rubrics in school because, if written well, they clarify the expectations and grading material of the projects/assignments. I think this made less work for the teachers too because there were less questions being asked by students about the assignments. I think we should certainly bring rubrics into the employment sphere. Once of the larger complaints affecting job satisfaction is ambiguous roles/expectations/directives. I can certainly attest from personal experience that it is very problematic when you aren’t sure your prime directives and what criteria your work is being evaluated on. Also, since students are used to using rubrics in school, it will be an easier transition for them when they enter the workforce. I think rubrics should be first introduced as part of new employee orientation. Have a rubric created specific to their job title and function. Let them know what their performance reviews are based on and what criteria they are being evaluated on. From there, they can also be employed per specific project in their work. There are some things rubrics can’t evaluate well and require a more subjective interpretation. This is especially true when talking about personality. Perhaps a blending of rubrics along with traditional performance evaluation would be beneficial to tracking performance.

  • I’m a huge fan of rubrics. In my opinion it’s one of the most effective ways a facilitator can communicate and outline expectations. In a way it mimics the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Method (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound). As a participant, a rubric provides clear accountability guidelines to achieve the desired grade that is often reflected in the assignment summary in a training class syllabus.

    As I was reading through this blog I couldn’t stop thinking about ways in which the rubric could be introduced in the workplace. I can see where a rubric could hold self-accountability standards for employees measuring their deliverables such as their job duties, following company policies and guidelines whether in the role as a TD or OD practitioner or otherwise. It can also assist decision makers (managers, supervisors, leaders, etc.) with clearly outlining the expectations through written communication. Ultimately the rubric can be used as a guideline for job performance measurements such as quarterly or annual reviews that may drive rewards (compensation) or recognition (promotion).

    There may even be an underlying synergy between the engagement of training evaluations, learning and assessments, and job performance reviews. For instance, if an educational rubric measures the outcome by grade, then perhaps the workplace rubric can measure the outcome by compensation increases or eligibility for promotion. Tying the expectation of job performance through learning and assessments can be measured by how often the employee attended a learning event, what resulted after attending the learning event (change in knowledge and/or behavior), and what,if any contributions were made as a result to advance the department or organization’s strategic goals. This would also encourage the employee to participate in training evaluations and encourage engagement and participation of surveys or questionnaires to provide objective feedback on the specifications outlined in the rubric.

    That being said, two barriers to the application of rubrics in the workplace learning and assessment come to mind. First, an employee would just “do whatever it takes” and “go through the motions” to get the rubric score needed for job advancement or compensation therefore their learning or behaviors become temporary or just enough to get to the results the employee desires to achieve. Second, would be the impact of employee turnover, voluntary or involuntary. If the learning and assessments are not achievable or accessible to the employee, it will set the rubric and processes described for failure thus opening the door for termination or resignation.

    To overcome these barriers, a trend analysis could be conducted by collecting data through survey and questionnaire evaluations to determine what is working as well as areas that need additional process improvement strategies.

    • Wonderful ideas! I like the idea of ties to rewards. I could also see rubrics as a virtual tool or a sort of dashboard that would link to tools needed to master the particular behavior. You’ve given me lots of ideas to consider perhaps for a follow up article.

      • Of course rubrics have a place in training evaluation. it would be an excellent tool to use along with each of the levels. Rubrics are popping up everywhere nowadays. When obtaining my BA we used rubrics for each of my projects I like them because it focus my work and allowed me to be responsible for what should be done and how to do.

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