How do I assess student learning in online discussion forums?

Grading Online Discussions

Grading student participation in online discussion forums can be an effective way to promote and encourage meaningful discussion. Graded discussions may also provide the necessary extrinsic motivation for students to participate. Deciding whether or not to grade online discussions will depend on the desired learning outcomes of the course.

Setting up Graded Discussion Forums in OWL

1. Set up the forum you want to mark. See this article for specific steps to set up a forum in OWL.

2. Set up your Gradebook (Site Info -> Manage Tools -> Gradebook).

3. Select "Add Gradebook Item".

4. Create a Gradebook Item for the forum you want to grade.

5. Gradebook items can then be assigned to your discussion forum topic to grade student posts.

6. Once students post in the discussion forum you can grade their post and this grade will be sent to the Gradebook.

Key points to remember when grading online discussions:

  • Assessment should align with course learning outcomes and instruction, such that student work in online discussions allows them to demonstrate that they've achieved the learning outcomes for the course, module or lesson.
  • Clear guidelines of how forum posts will be graded must be given.
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