Rubrics 101: A primer for rubric development in dental education

Jean A. O'Donnell, Marnie Oakley, Stephan Haney, Paula N. O'Neill, David Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Identifying and implementing effective methods for assessing dental student performance are ongoing challenges for dental educators. Questions related to grading and assessment are common among faculty and students alike. Faculty members who are well-trained clinicians or scientists often have little formal training in education. In addition, assessment of performance brings with it an element of subjectivity. Questions about assessment and grading are most likely to arise when expectations are unclear or the rationale for the grade awarded is not articulated. The authors propose that one solution to assessment dilemmas can be found in the use of rubrics: scaled tools with levels of achievement and clearly defined criteria placed in a grid. Rubrics establish clear rules for evaluation and define the criteria for performance. Rubrics speak to both teaching and learning expectations and outcomes and can provide faculty members with a tool that can be useful in evaluating dental student performance. Rubrics can also provide students with clear expectations of performance, an opportunity to self-assess, and timely, detailed feedback. The purpose of this article is to define a rubric, apply the steps of rubric development as described in the educational literature to dental student assessment, present two examples of rubric implementation for assessing student progress toward competence, and recommend electronic resources for rubric development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1163-1175
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011


  • Assessment
  • Competency
  • Dental education
  • Evaluation
  • Rubrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Dentistry(all)


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