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Background/Rationale

It is an excellent practice to inform students of the specific criteria used to assess their work and assign their grades. For example, a number of criteria may go into evaluating student performance and participation in a discussion forum, such as: 

  • timing and number of posts and replies,
  • inclusion of relevant source citations in a particular format (APA, MLA),
  • adhering to certain length guidelines and policies,
  • spelling, 
  • and any number of other criteria

But furthermore, the students need to know what constitutes a 5 point forum post vs. a 4 point or 3 point forum post, and so on. This helps inform both student and instructor of the exact criteria used to assign the grade. This information should be posted either in the syllabus or in the course before the first graded discussion forum, and must match the other information provided in the syllabus relating to discussion forums.

See also: Penn State's Online Interactive Rubric Builder: https://www.e-education.psu.edu/facdev/id/assessment/rubrics/rubric_builder.html

Example Rubrics

Here's a link to some great rubric examples: http://www.humboldt.edu/academicprograms/downloads/rubrics.pdf

Below is an example of a thorough and rigorous grading rubric for online discussion forums which you may use as a jumping off point for your online course:

Grade

Grading Criteria

5 points
A

  • Original posting is posted on/by the Wednesday 2359 EST due date.
  • Original posting is of high quality and displays depth of knowledge on the topic showing that the student has read the materials and considered the topic carefully.
  • Student has posted beyond the minimum required original and two replies. Replies occur under two or more different threads, other than that belonging to the student. Replies are posted on non-consecutive days or 3 or more consecutive days.
  • Responsive posts to peers' original postings are congenial, show clear synthesis and evaluation of the content read, and provide depth, breath, or new insight to the topic. A thought provoking question is asked to advance the discussion.
  • Addresses all assigned discussion questions.
  • Answers all questions posted to the student by peers/instructor.
  • Appropriate citations are included from scholarly peer-reviewed non-course text or readings to support what is said in both the assignment post and to responsive posts to peers.
  • Responses are clearly written and contain no APA/spelling/grammatical errors.

4 points
B

  • Original posting is posted on/by the Wednesday 2359 EST due date.
  • Original posting is of good quality and displays good depth of knowledge on the topic showing that the student has read the materials and considered the topic.
  • Student has posted the minimum required original and two replies. Replies occur under one discussion thread other than that belonging to the student. Replies are posted on non-consecutive days or 3 or more consecutive days.
  • Responsive posts to peers are congenial and display good depth of knowledge on the topic showing that the student has read the materials and considered the topic. Some considerations are given that indicates new thought on the topic that pertains to the topic being discussed. A thought provoking question is asked to advance the discussion.
  • Addresses all assigned discussion questions.
  • Answers all questions posted to the student by peers/instructor.
  • Appropriate citations are included from scholarly peer-reviewed non-course text or readings to support what is said in both the assignment post and some responsive posts to peers.
  • Responses are clearly written and contain few APA/spelling/grammatical errors.

3 points
C

  • Original posting is not posted on/by the Wednesday 2359 EST due date.
  • Original posting is of low quality and contains minimal depth of knowledge on the topic showing that the student has not read the materials and considered the topic adequately.
  • Student has posted the minimum required original and two replies. Replies are only under one discussion thread and are not posted on non-consecutive days.
  • Responsive posts to peers are congenial, contribute to the quality of the discussion, but do not stimulate further thinking and learning. Responses do not advance the topic. There is little understanding of the topic and little insight provided in the response.
  • Addresses all but one assignment discussion question.
  • Answers some questions posted to the student by peers/instructor.
  • Appropriate citations are included only from scholarly peer-reviewed course text or readings to support student's work in the assignment post.
  • Responses are generally written and contain several APA/spelling/grammatical errors.

2 points
D

  • Original posting is not posted on/by the Wednesday 2359 EST due date.
  • Original posting is of poor quality and has little to no indication that the topic is understood or that the student has read the materials.
  • Student has not posted the minimum required original and two replies. Replies are posted the last day of the week.
  • Responsive posts to peers are congenial, do not contribute to the quality of the discussion, and do not stimulate further thinking and learning. There is no indication of understanding the topic and little insight added to the response. Replies do not prove that analysis or synthesis of content took place.
  • Addresses few of the assigned discussion questions.
  • Answers few questions posted to the student by peers/instructor.
  • Lack of appropriate citations from scholarly peer-reviewed articles or books are used to support student's work in any post.
  • Responses are poorly written and contain many APA/spelling/grammatical errors.

0-1 point
F

  • Original posting is not posted on/by the Wednesday 2359 EST due date.
  • Original posting does not address the topic reflecting student has not read the content.
  • Addresses none of the assigned discussion questions.
  • Student has not posted to peers.
  • No citations cited in the posts revealing that the student's work may be plagiarized.
  • Post contains many APA/spelling/grammatical errors.

Here's an example of a discussion grading rubric developed and used by the SUNY Delhi BSN Faculty:

Each discussion is worth a maximum of 5 points each.  Points are awarded as follows:

4-5 Points

Original postings are posted by Wednesday at 2359 EST each week.  The original posting displays depth of knowledge on the topic and uses appropriate citations to support what is said.  The posting is of high quality showing that the student has read the materials and considered the topic carefully.

Replies to colleagues are congenial and show that the student has read the colleague's posting and considered what the colleague has to say carefully.  New insight, depth, or breadth is added to the topic.  The student may have posed a question that furthers the discussion.  Clear synthesis and evaluation of the content of original postings and what the student has read and posted as replies is evident.

The student has posted beyond the minimum required original and two replies.  Going above the minimum required work is how exemplary is defined and the student must do this to earn the maximum allowed points.

3 Points

Original postings are posted by Wednesday at 2359 EST each week.  The original posting displays good depth of knowledge on the topic and uses appropriate citations to support what is said.  The posting is of good quality showing that the student has read the materials and considered the topic.

Replies to colleagues are congenial and show that the student has read the colleague's posting and considered what the colleague has to say.  Some consideration is given that indicates new thought on the topic and the reply adds to the overall discussion of the topic.  The student may have posed a question that furthers the discussion.  Some consideration is evidenced that the student has considered some of what was read and some analysis of the content is clear.2 Points
Original postings are posted late, after Wednesday at 2359 EST each week.  The original posting has minimal depth of knowledge on the topic and uses few citations to support what is said.  The posting is of low quality showing that the student has not read the materials and considered the topic adequately.
The original and reply postings do not contribute to the quality of discussion interactions or do not stimulate further thinking and learning.  There is little understanding of the topic and little insight added to the postings of the student's colleagues.  The original posting and replies show no proof that there is analysis or synthesis of content from the readings or postings of others.

1 Point
Original postings are posted late, after Wednesday at 2359 EST each week.  The original posting gives little to no indication that the student understands the topic and few to no citations are used to support what is said.  The postings are of low quality.
The original and reply postings do not contribute to the discussion at all or do not stimulate further thinking and learning.  There is no indication of understanding of the topic and little insight added to the postings of the student's colleagues.  The original posting and replies show no proof that there is analysis or synthesis of content from the readings or postings of others.

0 Points
The original and reply postings do not meet any of the above standards for a posting.