How do you “rubric”?

As educators, if we don’t frequently use rubrics we certainly have heard about them.  Did you know the interesting origin of the word …

“While the word rubric has recently been associated with education and assessment, the term has an interesting etymology. According to Roman technical writers Columella, Vitruvius, and Pliny, in ancient times, rubrica was the name given to the red clay line that carpenters marked on wood as guides before making cuts. In medieval times, the term held particular meaning regarding religious texts and calendars. On those calendars, Saint’s days, feasts, and other holy days were hand lettered by monks in red ink and called rubrics—the origin of the expression “red letter days.” It is in the spirit of these two definitions that the term rubric is now used in an educational context—both acknowledging rubrics as significant measurement guides for teaching and learning and signaling the importance of this assessment tool.”

–excerpted from the Fall2011/Winter2012 issue of Peer Review


About Dr. J. Metzker

I believe in the power of a liberal education to transform individuals and society. I am currently the Executive Director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence. Formerly, I led a community engagement initiative and held a full professorship in chemistry at a public liberal arts university. I am a proud product of The Evergreen State College.
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