A rubric can be either holistic or analytical—or a combination of the two. A holistic rubric consists of a single scale—all factors that are to be evaluated are identified together for each level of performance. It might be a checklist or a description of each attainable level of performance. Holistic rubrics are quicker to develop and learn, quicker to score, and quicker to find agreement among various evaluators than are analytical rubrics. Because they produce a single score, they are most effective when the elements being assessed are closely related. However, they do not give as much feedback to students, and so they are more difficult to use as a learning tool than analytical rubrics.
Analytical rubrics, on the other hand, are excellent tools for teaching as well as for assessment. An analytical rubric consists of multiple, separate scales, and therefore provides a set of scores rather than just one. The multiple scales enable students to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses related to each criterion. The analytical rubric provides feedback to students by letting them know exactly which elements of the skill were mastered and which need more practice. While it is an excellent teaching tool, the analytical rubric does take longer to learn well and more time to score. Scores attained for the various criteria may be combined to make a final score.
Several factors should be considered in choosing the type of rubric. The first is the complexity of the skill. Complex skills require complex scales for adequate evaluation. Simpler skills may require only a checklist. In addition, the degree of mastery expected with a skill should be contemplated. Consider the purpose of the assessment. Is the rubric being used to introduce a new skill or as a capstone to a unit of teaching? Those skills being introduced for the first time, with no expectation of mastery, may best be evaluated with a simple rubric.
Adapted from MarkED