Developing Evidence-Based Nursing Rubrics

Rubrics have been used as a tool for communicating major concepts and establishing standards that learners can use as a guide when developing a paper or project.

Using a rubric that incorporates evidenced-based practice gives faculty assurance students are meeting course objectives and developing an appreciation for nursing standards of practice.

This article describes how to incorporate evidence-based practices into a rubric for a nursing academic program.

The Need for Rubrics

Rubrics are used in schools of nursing to establish standards and as evaluation tools for student assignments.


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Healthcare demands are on the rise; nursing education is expected to increase with them.

Rubrics allow each student’s performance to be measured against an established set of criteria that provide measurable levels of performance standards the student must meet.

This leveling benefits diverse populations in nursing because it provides students with dissimilar backgrounds, languages and learning abilities to review the information more than once before applying it.

Using this method also allows students to process the information provided and ask questions once they have had time to review the given standards. Table 1 provides an example of a basic med/surg rubric in relation to the nursing process.

The consistent and proper use of rubrics sets concrete expectations for assignments and reduces the subjectivity of grading for faculty.1 Adjunct and full-time faculty use the same set of standards to grade assignments which creates better consistency.

Reduction in student grade protest may also occur as a result of students’ ability to concretely see expectations and ask questions prior to completing the assignment. Faculty also have provided guidelines for students within the rubric that faculty may refer to when questions about grading arise.

Developing EBP Content

Incorporating and utilizing rubrics helps faculty meet several National League for Nursing faculty core competencies.2

The determination of what content should be taught is material for a different paper, however if faculty are having this much discussion about what is necessary to include in the curriculum, one may conclude students are having difficulty as well.

Content-laden curriculum has many students confused about where to focus their attention.3 Rubrics help students narrow information to the purpose of the assignment and focus on main concepts.

The reliability of the rubric is largely dependent on development and implementation.4 Several faculty should review the rubric before implementing it.


It also may be helpful to grade previously-saved projects using the developed rubric to establish consistent results. Using the same rubric and the same project, grading should also be similar among faculty.

Incorporating EBP into Rubrics

A landmark 2010 Institute of Medicine report called for an “improved education system” for nursing that incorporates intricacies of care coordination and transition.5

Rubrics help meet this need by allowing educators to place standards of practice within them. These already established and researched standards facilitate a proper and smooth transition to practice.

Faculty should utilize current standards of practice to ensure teaching methodologies are consistent with the healthcare workplace.

Community partnerships as well as policies and procedures of facilities used as clinical sites are good starting points. Communities often employ a committee to ensure policies and procedures meet the latest standards set by the Joint Commission and other regulatory agencies.

A list of these agencies can be found in Table 2.

Quality Education


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Rubrics are helpful tools to clarify expectations in projects based throughout the curriculum. Objectivity is emphasized when using rubrics.

Incorporating nursing standards from nationally-recognized institutions helps prepare students for practice. Using these nursing standards as a basis for rubric development aids faculty and students in incorporating and meeting evidenced-based practice protocols in the curriculum. Continuous revaluation ensures consistency and quality improvement.

Faculty, meanwhile, should be constantly seeking ways to improve learning and ensure major concepts are understood.

Feedback from adjunct faculty and students helps to clarify misconceptions and identify specifics of an assigned project for a nursing course, e.g., how in-depth a certain section of the project should be, and gives faculty an understanding of how students view the EBP content.

Such insight allows faculty to evaluate the understanding of material taught. Student repeatedly asking questions about a specific content area may necessitate faculty reviewing or revising the material, for example.

Rubrics are not set in stone; just like semesters, each will be different. Students’ interpretation of rubrics will differ as well. However, constant input from students and faculty will provide insight to rubric revisions needed for better understanding of the project and ultimately achievement of course objectives.


for this article can be accessed here.

Jessica Shearer is a nursing professor at Seminole State College of Florida, in Altamonte Springs, FL.

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