Rubric for art projects

Written by michelle ledonne
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Rubric for art projects
Rubics provide students clear expecations for creative projects. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Whether your students are painting likenesses of Monet masterworks or finger painting a picture of a dog, guidelines provided by an art teacher can inspire creativity and help students achieve their goals of success and a high grade. Rubrics are an organised, written method of presenting objectives for an art project that students follow when creating their artwork and teachers follow when evaluating the completed project.

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Rubrics define criteria for a piece of graded schoolwork. Teachers develop and present a rubric at the outset of a project to help students understand what is expected of them at each stage of the project and the grade they can expect to receive if they complete or fail to complete each aspect. Every student should have a copy to refer to as he completes the project. Professor Heidi Goodrich Andrade from Ohio University explains that rubrics improve student performance by helping them set personal goals, and rubrics also provide teachers with an easy forum for grading objectively and giving valuable feedback.


When designing an art project rubric, the art media should be taken into consideration. If the art form takes place in steps, outlining an expectation for each step can guide students in their process by providing quality checkpoints. The age of the students should also be considered. Overly wordy rubrics will not help young students. Think about colour-coding rubrics for your students and keep directions simple by using key words and phrases. It is also helpful to begin the assignment by discussing the rubric's steps out loud.


A useful rubric clearly outlines ideas and expectations. Rubrics can be presented in many different formats including lists, charts, graphs, maps or collage. The design should logically flow from one requirement to another with numbered steps, bullet points or arrows guiding the student from step to step. The grade scale should account for all levels of achievement and performance. Many online resources like Rubistar and Art Teacher Toolbox offer rubric templates, specific to different art forms and projects, for teachers to fill in, design and print. Looking at models and examples can help teachers design the right rubric for their classrooms.


The assignment requires high school art students to create a self-portrait using oil pastels. A sample rubric could grade the project on four different criteria: technical skill, composition, materials and student work habits. The criteria descriptions can appear vertically on the page. Each of these four criteria would then be described in terms of quality (exceptional, proficient, passing, in progress) or by corresponding letter grade. The qualification levels/grades run horizontally across the page and intersect the criteria rows. The rubric thus appears in chart form. At the bottom of the page, the teacher can include lines for grading comments and written feedback.

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