Effectiveness of Rubrics in the Master of Architecture

Students in the Masters of the Architecture at TU Delft choose a master studio for their graduation, in which they complete several design assignments working towards a final graduation project.  Aiming to make the assessment of these master designs as objective as possible, the exam committee asked for the development of assessment criteria and a grading procedure that could enhance objectivity in the grades teachers give. Therefore, a grading rubric was created for these master studios. A rubric describes the criteria on which the product of the students is assessed and different levels of performance for each of these criteria. In this way, it is transparent for students what the learning objectives are and what their assessment will be based on. Additional value for learning is that students understand the level of development that is expected of them and can reflect on their own work before the official grading takes place. Multiple teachers and an educational advisor were involved in creating this rubric. One of the criteria and the different performance levels within the category of design skills is shown below.


The effectiveness of this intervention was researched via one control group (students were only assessed according to the rubric) and three intervention groups:

1. Students were assessed according to the rubric and received feedback based on the rubric

2. In addition to the interventions of group 1), students also completed a self-assessment using the rubric.

3. In addition to the interventions of group 2, students performed a peer-assessment using the rubric.

The added value of this innovation was:

More objective assessment of master studio’s

Learning objectives are made explicit and are more clear for students

Transparency of assessment for students

The assessment of the different master studio’s are based on the same rubric, reducing the chance of difference in level between the masters

Update assessment to new standards

Students examine their own learning process critically

Student grades increase: the more students used the rubric, the more critical they were of the rubric but the higher their grades were. This is probably because using the rubric intensely makes them question the texts and descriptions. Looking at the criteria and their work improves their quality.

High teacher satisfaction: the more teachers used the rubric with their students, the more satisfied they were with the rubric. This is probably because it was a way to legitimize their assessment.

Supports students learning: Students have to think more about what the goals of their efforts are. Teachers think more about the student perspective. 

Do not make the rubric too large: this reduces the transparency and understandability of the rubric for students

Use everyday language in the rubric: students needs to understand the rubric, also in the beginning of the course, so avoid technical terms

Differentiate grades: ‘It’s there or it’s not there’.Be careful not to give everyone the same score.

  • Look at literature for guidelines on how to create a good rubric
  • Create the rubric together with your fellow-teachers on the course
  • Create the rubric together with students
  • Instruct (fellow-)teachers and students about working with the rubric
  • Be prepared to revise the rubric after you first worked with it