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One question we’re often asked is how educators can adapt these rubrics for their specific needs. We acknowledge that there are many reasons faculty might choose to make adaptations from the differing language in use locally to various needs that are specific to each learning environment and institutional context. In fact, in addition to the PDF versions, we offer all 16 rubrics as Word files for this purpose enabling others to make modifications as needed. For example, these rubrics were not designed for use in course level grading but there are many ways they can be adapted for this use. Some example modifications include removing or even adding dimensions. For instance, you might add dimensions by combining them from more than one rubric or adding a dimension that is specific to your needs and not represented in the rubric as is. Editing the performance descriptors to suit a particular need from edits to the verbiage to adding or removing behaviors. The performance levels can be modified by adding or removing the levels as well as by modifying performance level names. Or it may be helpful to change the rubric type from analytic rubric to a holistic or single point rubric for a particular purpose like grading.

When I taught undergraduate students, I made modifications to the value rubrics in my own practice. For example, I found that there were dimensions from several learning outcomes that aligned with my needs so I selected the salient dimensions and added them to a single rubric. Critical thinking, written communication and integrative learning were all important to a Capstone E-portfolio assignment I implemented each semester. I also adapted the language of some performance descriptors to match my courses context, and, for example simply adjusted the language in some cases so that my students better grasped the expectations. I often added dimensions that were critical to assessing my students’ understanding of the course content as well. There were times when I used the original rubric as written such as the oral communication value rubric for an in-class presentation. Like the activity in this course, I made sure to discuss the rubric with my students so that we are all on the same page and understood expectations. If you do plan to make modifications, please keep in mind that the validity and reliability of these rubrics have been established in their original form only. However, each rubric can absolutely provide a solid foundation on which to shape a rubric suitable to your context.

Educators often have questions about how to adapt the rubrics to their context. How can they be adapted when they are benchmarked statements that should apply to all contexts?

It’s important to remember that, while the VALUE rubrics cover several key aspects of student learning for a given learning outcome, how we talk about those learning outcomes will often differ from program to program and institution to institution. Where this is the case, it’s helpful to adapt the rubrics to reflect this nuance. Furthermore, adaptation may be critical depending on how the rubric will be applied in a given context. For example, the VALUE rubrics were not designed for course-level grading, and modifications can be made to better suit that particular use.

There are many options for modifying the rubrics. Common modifications include:

  • Removing and/or adding dimensions.
  • Editing performance descriptors to suit a particular context/need.
  • Adding or removing performance levels.
  • Modifying performance level names.
  • Changing the rubric type from analytical to a holistic or single-point rubric for a particular purpose, like grading.

Keep in mind, however, that changes will impact the reliability and validity of the instrument, although the rubric provides a solid foundation on which to shape a rubric suitable in your context.

As mentioned in “What does the research tell us?” lesson, studies by a consortium of campuses and a national reliability study have shown acceptable levels of reliability when using one or more of the value rubrics across different programs and contexts. To do this, it makes sense to retain most of the core elements of the rubrics.


Are there any elements of the rubric that would not apply to your specific context? Are there ones that you would like to add for your context?

Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

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