Assessment Resource Centre Home     Online Survey     Glossary     Contact Us     Sitemap     
Teacher's Link     Student's Voice    PolyU Only       
About ARC  
Assessment Criteria
Methods of Assessing Learning Outcomes
Providing Constructive Feedback
References and Bibliography

Constructing Assessment Criteria

Criteria and outcome-based assessment

The use of criteria in assessment is associated with an outcome-based approach to curriculum design. In an outcome-based curriculum, the design of learning, teaching and assessment tasks is guided by a set of intended learning outcomes. These intended learning outcomes are expressed in statements that describe the qualities a student is expected to develop through the learning experience. Because outcomes are broad in nature, informed judgment is required to determine how well an intended outcome has been achieved by a particular student. Clear assessment criteria, known and understood by students and teachers alike, are essential for ensuring such an informed judgment.

Criteria and rubrics

A rubric is a statement of criteria that specifies aspects of performance and the level or standard that students are expected to demonstrate in the assessment. For teachers, it provides a basis for judging the extent to which an outcome has been achieved. For students, it helps them clarify the learning objective and monitor their learning.

Choosing between analytic and holistic rubrics

Analytic rubrics and holistic rubrics are the two common types of rubric. In choosing between them, it would be useful to consider their relative strengths and weaknesses in relation to the purpose of assessment and the nature of the attributes that are being assessed, remembering that in professional education, the most important outcomes are likely to be holistic.


Analytic rubrics

Holistic rubrics



• Performance is assessed along separate dimensions; the grade is decided by adding the scores of the parts.

• A criterion is written for each dimension at each level, i.e. six criteria need to be written for a rubric that consists of two dimensions and three levels (2x3).

• Different weighting may be allocated to each dimension to account for their relative importance.


• The distinction between dimensions is not made; judgement is made on the overall performance.

• The qualities associated with each level of performance are specified.


When to use

• When the performance assessed can be meaningfully broken down into distinct dimensions.

• When it is necessary to provide formative feedback on the dimension in question.


• When an overall evaluation is needed.

• When the intended outcome means more than the sum of its constituent dimensions.



• Breaking down a performance into separate dimensions may risk missing the overall integrity of the performance.


• A common perception is that a holistic assessment is too "subjective". Clearly stated criteria or rubrics should however meet this limitation.

Please check out more information about rubrics from other resource references.

Reflective Writing from a Student Team on a Criteria-referenced Assessment Tool-Kit

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University The University of Hong Kong

This project, funded by University Grants Committee of Hong Kong, is an inter-institutuional collaborative project involving the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong.

  Copyright & Acknowledgement | Content by the ARC Editorial Team | Updated June 30, 2007 Copyright © 2005 ARC. All rights reserved.