Rubrics and Direct Measures

Direct Measures

Direct measures of assessment require students to represent, produce or demonstrate their learning. Direct measures evaluate examples of student work and provide direct evidence of student learning. Direct evidence of student learning is tangible, visible and measurable, and tends to be more compelling evidence of what students have and have not learned. A scoring rubric is often designed and used to systematically collect direct measures of learning. Examples include:

  • Observations of student behavior, conducted through a systematic process
  • Score and pass rates on tests and appropriate licensure exams
  • Performance evaluations
  • Score gains on pre-test and post measures
  • Thesis/Dissertation evaluations
  • Summaries and assessments of online class discussion threads

Data, Academic Planning and Institutional Research (DAPIR) also provides additional resources for campus data for context (graduation rates, enrollment trends, etc.).


Rubrics are often used when assessing direct measures of student learning. A rubric is a scoring tool that expresses criteria and standards relevant to an assignment or learning outcome.  Rubrics are an effective way to evaluate many types of student work, including essays, final projects, oral presentations, theatrical performances, etc.  They can be used at the time an assignment is given to communicate expectations to students, to assess students performance relative to course learning outcomes, and to assess an academic program by determining the extent to which students are achieving program outcomes.

Rubric Examples

UW–Madison Rubrics