A process for developing and validating performance assessment rubrics for laboratory techniques


  • Stefan G. Huth Monash University
  • Roland P.-T. Chung Monash University
  • Petar P. S. Calic Monash University


Laboratory assessment, Organic chemistry, Performance assessment, Rubrics



Achieving competence in technical skills is a key learning objective in the laboratory programs of our institution’s Pharmaceutical Science course. However, their assessment is often achieved through indirect outcome indicators since performance assessment through direct observation is time-consuming and there is a lack of validated, efficient and scalable methods.


We report on our approach towards the development, validation and optimisation of a set of rubrics for the formative and summative assessment of common chemistry laboratory techniques. Efficiency and user-friendliness are key criteria in the rubric development. 

Drawing on recent work by Seery et al. (2017) and Chen et al. (2013), we propose a four-stage process:

  1. Rubric design based on practitioner input, literature sources and lab observations
  2. Testing involving student self-assessment, peer evaluation and instructor assessment
  3. Optimisation and validation based on assessment data, student and instructor feedback
  4. Developing supporting procedures (e.g., instructor training).


We have started implementation in two synthetic chemistry subjects, initially targeting rubrics for four techniques (reflux setup, thin-layer chromatography, vacuum filtration and recrystallisation).

Rubric evaluation will involve both quantitative (assessment data) and qualitative methods (surveys/focus groups with instructors and students, human ethics application in progress).


Chen, H. J., She, J. L., Chou, C. C., Tsai, Y. M., & Chiu, M. H. (2013). Development and application of a scoring rubric for evaluating students’ experimental skills in organic chemistry: An instructional guide for teaching assistants. Journal of Chemical Education, 90(10), 1296–1302. https://doi.org/10.1021/ed101111g

Seery, M. K., Agustian, H. Y., Doidge, E. D., Kucharski, M. M., O’Connor, H. M., & Price, A. (2017). Developing laboratory skills by incorporating peer-review and digital badges. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 18(3), 403–419. https://doi.org/10.1039/C7RP00003K

Author Biographies

Stefan G. Huth, Monash University

Lecturer, Pharmaceutical Science

Roland P.-T. Chung, Monash University

Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Petar P. S. Calic, Monash University

Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences