Computing Cases Header, Picture of a Keyboard with the text "" printed over it


Teaching Tools

Teaching with Cases

Social Impact Analysis

Computer Ethics Curriculum

Curricula Index

Case Materials



Hughes Aircraft

Ethics in Computing Links

Contact Us

Making your rubric

List your goals

The first step in making a grading rubric is to list the goals you want to achieve in the assignment (paper, poster, presentation, etc.). These become the major dimensions on which you will base your rubric. For a specific exercise, you might want the student to (1) show they know the process of ethical dissent (2) apply the process to Goodearl's situation at Hughes, and (3) evaluate (with reasons) Goodearl's performance. This set of goals establishes the major dimensions of your rubric.

Trust me, you can come up with an infinite number of dimensions on which you might evaluate an essay or presentation etc, but to simplify both your life and that of your students, you need to choose the few (say, 3 to 7, at most 20 or so) you will emphasize for this exercise. A grading rubric with 57 dimensions makes your life harder, not easier, and merely confuses the students rather than guiding them toward the important skills.

So choose your dimensions wisely, and make sure they fit in with the goals of your class, the level of your students, the time in the semester, etc. These dimensions are the central leverage you will have.

List levels of achievement of each goal

For each dimension, think of what the major "clusters" of achievement might be, from none at all (e.g. does not even mention the process of ethical dissent) to excellent (explains each step with examples and describes how they form a process). You may find yourself with just 3 steps (nothing, some, lots) or more. For the sake of simplicity, try not to do more than 5 steps in achievement for any dimension. If it looks like you need more, ask yourself whether you can break the dimension into two dimensions and have fewer levels in each.

Assign Numbers in Some Way

Once you have the dimensions and the levels of achievement for each, you now have a grading rubric in the form of a matrix. I find it easiest if I actually format the rubric as a table. You can assign point values for each level of achievement for each dimension. You can weight the dimensions differently or equally to get the final grade for the product. I always use points in the cells of the table and sum them, but other simply give a "wholistic" grade after making marks in a table showing what they thought of the product on the various dimensions.

Be Specific and Concrete

Vague descriptions will do you little good in grading and your students little good in understanding what you thought of their paper. Instead of saying "thoughtful analysis" as the highest level of a dimension, specify the particular things you are looking for to decide the analysis was thoughtful. You may find yourself making additional dimensions as you do so. The use of a good analogy is one "thoughtful analysis" criterion (and one listed in the ImpactCS knowledge units). So, what is a good analogy? Perhaps "Use of analogy" needs to be a dimension and it would have levels of achievements on its own.