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4 Easy Tips and Tricks for Creating Visually Engaging Rubrics

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Graphic of grid with arrow

Lisa Yokana recently shared a useful rubric in her post on "Creating an Authentic Maker Education Rubric." As this post was making the rounds on social media, Edutopia staff received a number of requests to distribute a modifiable version of her sample maker rubric that educators could adjust to the particulars of their own settings.

Editable Maker Rubric

To satisfy that need, I’ve created two different versions of Lisa's sample maker rubric in Microsoft Word and Google Docs formats. You can modify this template to create your own rubrics, either those based on Lisa’s example or on other great rubrics, some of which are listed at the bottom of this post.

In addition, here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most use out of this sample rubric template.

Rubric Design Tips and Tricks

Form follows function. The function of a rubric is to make information that is valuable to student success approachable and digestible. In order to do this, rubrics should achieve simplicity. Simplicity helps with both usability and aesthetics. These designs are perceived as more attractive, easier to use, and they facilitate creative thinking and problem solving. In order to achieve simplicity, present only relevant information and label each piece of information clearly and consistently.

Everything on your page should have a job. Words should define, colors should categorize, fonts should communicate, and lines should compartmentalize. The more you can streamline your system and the elements within, the stronger your design will be.

With this sample rubric, I implemented several quick and easy design tricks to help improve overall functionality and experience.

  1. Minimize lines to allow more pertinent content to surface. I made the lines that divide the columns and rows lighter in both weight and color (0.5 points and 50% black).
  2. Use variations of font weight to create visual contrast and cues that help the reader distinguish and associate information. To make the information feel less cumbersome, I used Arial, a sans serif font, in bold, for grid labeling, and the regular Arial font for body copy.
  3. Use color conservatively and ensure each color has its own purpose. I chose one “pop color” to help highlight and draw attention to critical components.
  4. Elements of a rubric should be aligned with one another. I used left justified text because it is easier to read and creates a sense of cohesion across the page.

All in all, we are trying to create a clean and clear page for students to access throughout the entire scope of the project. The less visual noise a page contains, the clearer the information becomes and the easier it is to retain. Remember, less is always more!

Other Rubric Samples From Edutopia

Check out these articles and posts for guidance on the purposes and benefits of rubrics and how to create effective content within your rubrics:

Be sure to visit Edutopia's Rubrics page for more tips and resources. What strategies do you use to create visually engaging rubrics? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

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Kathy Schrock's picture
Kathy Schrock
Educational technologist

Thank you for sharing your ideas and the template. I am passionate about one thing-- the columns should appear in the opposite order. If a student is scanning, we don't want the first thing they see to be the "NEEDS ADDITIONAL WORK" column. We want them to see what they are striving for. On another note, I always try to be instructive in what I have as the last column and not be negative. For instance, in your UNSATISFACTORY column, I would, under Craftmanship, say something like "Work needs to be neater and should support the overall presentation." Sorry to be so critical, but this happens to be something I really care about! :-)

Cait Camarata's picture
Cait Camarata
Visual Designer

Hi Kathy. I think these are two wonderful ideas. I agree with you - first and last impressions should be positive. When I was redesigning the rubric I didn't even consider reordering the columns. I think this is valuable insight and I am thankful you have shared it here.

Lisa Yokana's picture
Lisa Yokana
Innovative Educator, Artist, Designer of Creative Curriculum


Great thoughts! And while I agree with you in theory, I also think that the format relates directly to the age and type of students that you are teaching. I agree that the order might seem negative to some, but to others it might show them that they have something more to strive towards. The beauty of what Edutopia has done is make it easy to personalize it for every situation. I teach high school and know that there are some situations where I want to challenge students; I can easily understand that for elementary, for instance, the order should be changed.
Also I love the language you suggest, "...should support the overall presentation." That language speaks to purposeful intent.
Thanks for all the good thoughts!


Lacie's picture

In the spirit of accessibility, please tread carefully with the use of color for context. Color should not be used to categorize if that is the only manner in which students are able to discriminate the various components, nor should it be used to emphasize critical components of a rubric without another clear, color-agnostic indicator.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

That's a great point, Lacie. Color blindness is a lot more prevalent than many people realize.

Cait Camarata's picture
Cait Camarata
Visual Designer

What Samer said... Great point, Lacie... definitely something to be aware of.

I did use color as a highlight element here. However, the text in color is also differentiated by type size, type weight, and type case - the column and row titles are a larger type size, they are also set in bold, and the column titles are set in all caps.

In all honesty I did not think of accessibility issues, it was more to ensure that if someone were to print this in greyscale the information hierarchy would still be apparent.

I really appreciate the accessibility reminder!


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