Grading Threaded Discussions - A Model

A threaded discussion (or discussion forum) is an asynchronous tool used mimic in-class discussions.  Because this tool is asynchronous, students and instructors must visit the forum repeatedly to follow the discussion.  A complaint from students concerning online threaded discussions for hybrid courses is that the discussion is NOT carried into the face-to-face meeting.  Alternatively, faculty are often frustrated by the lack of quality postings in the threaded discussion.  By posting a grading rubic, students and instructors are guided in how to participate and assess student interactions.  Below is a sample rubric and instructions to students.  This is but one of many available rubrics.


Guidelines for Participating in the Threaded Discussions


Discussions are the way we "participate" in class. So it's important that you post thoughtful messages that move the conversation forward in some way. "Yeah, I agree," and "Me, too" are not acceptable postings and will not earn any points. Your participation in discussions can earn you points for each discussion. After the due date for the discussion, you will be graded on your overall participation in that discussion thread. Late posts are welcome for their intellectual value but will not be considered in your grade.


Your posts should show that you have read the material in the text as well as your group and/or partner's posts and have applied all of that to the question at hand. You should do more than merely spit back what the text says; you should engage with the material by analyzing and interpreting it. Your posts should be grammatically clear enough not to present anyone with a problem in understanding your point. It's not a formal writing forum, but it's not Facebook either.


Grading rubrics


To earn full points:


  • Initial postings are completed early in the week.
  • Follow up posts (generally more than the minimum of one per discussion) are timely
  • Content is complete, on -point, thoughtful and offers new ideas
  • Supporting detail is abundant and appropriate (that is, references from the pieces read and/or other sources)
  • Content often encourages further discussion on the topic or follows up on others' thoughts
  • Postings are characterized by originality, engagement and relevance to the topic
  • Postings demonstrate an understanding of the material assigned and familiarity with the ideas of the students partner and group members (in other words, it's obvious that you've read and understood both the required reading assigned and what your peers have written in their postings)


The following chart represents the rubric employed for grading the threaded discussion entries:


Number of Points 
Chart representing the rubric employed for grading threaded discussion entries
9-10  Demonstrates excellence in grasping key concepts; critiques work of others; stimulates discussion; provides sample citations for support of opinions; readily offers new interpretations of discussion material. Ideas are expressed clearly, concisely; uses appropriate vocabulary.
7-8  Shows evidence of understanding most major concepts; will offer an occasional divergent viewpoint or challenge; shows some skill in support for opinions. Some signs of disorganization with expression; transition wording may be faulty.
5-6 Has mostly shallow grasp of the material; rarely takes a stand on issues; offers inadequate levels of support. Poor language use garbles much of the message; only an occasional idea surfaces clearly; expression seems disjointed; overuse of the simple sentence and a redundancy with words and commentary; paragraphs often appear unrelated to each other. This student requires constant prompting for contributions.
1-4  A minimal posting of material. Shows no significant understanding of material. Language is mostly incoherent. Does not respond readily to prompting.



From John F. Bauer, “Assessing Student Work from Chat Rooms and Bulletin Boards.”  New Directions for Teaching and Learning 91 (Fall 2002): 35.


Other Resources: