Best Practices in Rubric Grading with D2L Brightspace


Rubrics Tool Gets Some New Updates

D2L as made an effort to improve the Rubric tool.  Since 2018 they have been pushing continuous updates with rubrics to provide better assessment solutions for instructors as well greater feedback for students.  Below is a list of “Best Practices for Rubrics Grading with an understanding of changes made, and the new best practices.


Change: As you assess your rubrics, the assessment and feedback you leave will be automatically saved to draft. There is no need to continuously click on the Save button to ensure all your work is preserved. The publishing options in Discussions assessment now mirror the Assignments, including Publish and Save Draft.

New best practice: Assess your rubric and leave rubric feedback as usual. Then safely Close the rubric and either Save Draft or Publish for the entire assessment. Save Draft allows you to assess multiple learners before making the assessment results visible (for example, to the entire class). Publish makes the assessment visible immediately upon completion in all tools (User Progress, Assignments/Discussions/Content, Grades) at the same time. Both the Assignments and Discussions workflows also contain bulk publishing for all or selected list of users.

After the rubric assessment has been published, before you can edit the rubric further, you must first “Retract Feedback”, because the rubric feedback is being auto-saved on the fly. You can use Update for the Score and Overall Feedback after they have been published without the need to Retract first.


Change: Overall Score will no longer have feedback field as it often gets confused with overall activity feedback.

New best practice: Always leave overall activity feedback in Overall Feedback (previously called “General Feedback” in Discussions and “Feedback” in Assignments). Learners will see the Overall Feedback followed by a link to the completed rubric with detailed criteria feedback.
In Assignments, Discussions, User Progress and Content:

In Grades:


Change: Since the entire rubric is now available for learners in Grades and all other tools, it is no longer necessary to transfer individual criterion feedback text to the Overall Feedback (previously “General Feedback”). This feature is therefore being removed.

New best practice: The feedback on individual criteria will be available to learners in a completed rubric in Grades, without the need to copy the criteria feedback to Overall Feedback. Use Overall Feedback for overall comments on the assessment only.


Change: Previously, due to the inability to display the full rubric in Grades, some clients used a workaround of adding the level description as default feedback in the rubric and then copy it into Grades within the Overall feedback. We have also seen some use of HTML tables within feedback to further format the level description. This results in a few undesirable consequences. It adds work for the instructional designer or educator creating the rubric, and generates noise in student feedback data, which makes it difficult to complete organization-wide feedback analysis.
We further observed that HTML content in the rubric feedback field is rare (<4%). Therefore, we are removing ability to add new HTML content in the rubric feedback field. If you have previously created HTML feedback, it will continue to display and render as HTML to learners. However, new feedback that you attempt to edit or create within the rubric will be plain text only. You can continue to use HTML feedback in Overall Feedbackfor both, Assignments and Discussions.

New best practice: The complete rubric (including rubric levels, descriptions and educator feedback) is now accessible by learners from Grades, User Progress, Content and individual tools (Assignments, Discussions). This means that the feedback field in the rubric can be reserved for educator feedback only. This also eliminates any need for duplicating level descriptions in the ‘Default Feedback’ field.


Change: The existing interaction between Overall Score and individual rubric criteria often results in rubrics that are difficult to interpret. Instead of treating Overall Score level as a minimum point threshold, it was previously treated as the override of the rubric Total. This has been a big point of confusion for both educators and their learners as they are trying to understand the results of an assessment.  Specifically, in the example below, a learner may receive 8 points overall, but looking at the details of their rubric assessment see that they have accumulated 15 points (5 per each criterion).

With our changes, we are clearly separating the rubric Total (the numeric value from criteria) which results in the Score in the Grades from the Level Achieved.

New best practice:
Level Achieved is auto-suggested by using the minimum points from the Total. The level can be overridden by the educator, but that does not have an impact on the rubric Total. Level Achieved is communicated to the learner as a level only (without point information). Total can still be overridden manually by the educator.

Please note that in the future we are planning to give educators an option to decide if they want to use Level Achieved in a rubric or not. This option will come with the new rubrics creation experience.


Change: Previously, when you associate a rubric with Learning Objectives, you find yourself in different workflows for Discussions and Assignments. Furthermore, within the Discussions tool, if one of the rubrics is associated with Learning Objectives, the workflow does not allow for automatic transfer of the rubric score to the discussion topic score. With our changes, associating Learning Objectives to rubrics will not impact the rubrics workflow in either the Discussions or Assignments tool.

New best practice: Associate Learning Objectives in Assignments and Discussions, and follow the same workflow to assess the rubric. The score from the Scoring Rubric will automatically populate the activity Score. See the associated Learning Objectives listed underneath the rubric.

Optionally, if you would like to use an assessment rubric with associated Learning Objectives which are not intended for your learners, you can use the new feature of changing rubric visibility:


Change: Previously, the Assessment column containing a rubric only displayed in Grades if the Grade Item had a directly associated rubric. Since we have added the ability to associate a rubric with the activity, instead of seeing two columns – one for Submission and one for Assessment – educators will only see the Assessment column, which allows them to launch the assessment workflow for that activity.

Before: when a rubric was attached to assignment or discussion directly, it was not possible to grade it from Grades, and the Assessment column would not be displayed.

New best practice: Submission and Assessment columns are merged into a single Assessment column, which allows you to see the submission and assess it at the same time. Grading can be done from individual tools (Assignments, Discussions), or through Grades – depending on your workflow preference. 


Rubric is attached to an assignment:

Rubric is attached to a discussion:

Rubric is attached directly to the Grade Item (for observational or offline assessments which are not tied to LMS activity):


Change: Previously, it was not clear which rubric was considered Scoring when multiple rubrics were attached, and the Scoring Rubric in Discussions did not always automatically contribute to the total Score. Additionally, in Assignments, the rubrics were listed as separate links, but each link would open the same dialog with all rubrics for assessment. The same rubric dialog required the educator to pick the Scoring Rubric even in cases where only one rubric was attached to an assignment. With our changes, the Scoring Rubric is always indicated and always contributes to the total activity Score.

New best practice: Always see which rubric is currently considered the Scoring Rubric that automatically contributes to the Score (for Assignments and Discussions, with or without Learning Objectives). Choose whether you want to Assess All Rubrics or assess only an individual rubric. You can still pick the scoring rubric from a drop-down (which only appears when multiple rubrics are attached) in the Assignments tool.
Note that we are not introducing picking a Scoring Rubric to Discussions at this point: Scoring Rubric is the first rubric in the list that is added to a discussion topic. However, the indicator of which rubric is the Scoring Rubricwill consistently display among Assignments and Discussions.


Change: We have heard numerous times that our usage of rubrics on the entire quiz or survey is not useful and furthermore confusing. We also can see this in the usage data over the last 3 years, where rubrics on quizzes accounts for less than 1% of rubric usage. We will therefore be removing rubric association to entire quiz and survey this Fall.

New best practice: Do not associate a rubric directly with quizzes as this feature is being removed.


In summary, here are the key new best practices to keep in mind:

  • Since rubric work is auto-saved, there is no need to continuously Save the rubric. Instead, use the Publishand Save Draft options to make feedback visible immediately or later.
  • Leave overall activity feedback in Overall Feedback for the activity, and not in the rubric. It will display to the learner in a nice consistent block, followed by a completed rubric with detailed criteria feedback.
  • Reserve the use of rubric criteria feedback for assessor additional comments (in plain text). Criteria feedback will ­not be copied to Overall Feedback for the activity.
  • Be assured that your learners will see your rubric and overall activity feedback in a consistent presentation across User Progress, Content, Assignments, Discussions and Grades
  • Treat rubric Total as the numeric score that is transferred and communicated in Grades. Use Level Achievedas additional information of overall achievement. Note that it will be possible to exclude the Level Achievedsection in the future.
  • Be assured that the Scoring Rubric automatically contributes to the activity Score.
  • In the case of multiple rubrics, choose whether you want to assess an individual rubric or all rubrics in the same dialog in Assignments
  • Choose the rubric visibility setting to control whether the rubric is intended for communication of feedback to the learner or for other assessment purposes.
  • Do not associate a rubric directly with quizzes as this feature is being removed. Our intent is to introduce rubrics for the Long Answer question type in 2019. Note that the rubrics that have previously been created and associated with Quizzes will continue to work, but will not benefit from the design changes described above