CTL Blog

Alternative Ways of Grading Discussion Forum Posts

May 01, 2018 | 3 Minute Read

Having students post in the Discussion Forum and grading them on the quality and depth of their posts is an increasingly popular way of assessing students in CoursePlus. As with any activity, however, different faculty have different ways of running this kind of assessment.

The tools for grading student posts in the discussion forum were built around the use case of having each student make a single reply to a faculty’s original post in a category. As such, a grade and the comments for that grade are applied to every single post that a student makes in a category. In most cases (and the use case that we built for), there will be a single post from a student.

If students are expected to make multiple posts in the same category, things get a bit trickier.

In cases where a student makes multiple posts in the same graded category, the same grade and comments appear for every post by that student in that category. Currently, there is no capacity for grading within the discussion forum that lets you give separate scores and separate comments on each of the multiple posts a student makes in a category. The CoursePlus team will work on improvements in this area in the coming months.

In the meantime, there are two potential workarounds for situations where a student is expected to make multiple posts in the same graded category and you want to grade each post separately:

First, as the grade and comment box appear the same for every post an individual student makes in a category, you could simply go through each student post and add cumulative comments to the comment box for that student. The grade and comments get saved every time you make changes in the grade or comment box beneath each student post. You could add a brief reference to the specific post being graded in the text comments. For example, if the student responds to three other student posts, you could write:

Post 1 (Beth) - thoughtful response to their argument
Post 2 (Xijing) - do you have references backing up your statement about opioid addiction in this response?
Post 3 (Tom) - good response

The student will then see their score and all of the comments for all of their posts in the entire category in their view of the Gradebook.

Second, you could have two browser tabs open at once to facilitate the grading process. In one tab, open the “Individual Student Discussion Forum Contribution” report in the "Reports" section of the main faculty tools page to see all of the student posts at once. In another tab, open the Gradebook. As you read the student posts in the report tab, you can then switch to the Gadebook tab to enter in the comments and a cumulative score for that student.

The CoursePlus team recently made some improvements to the “Individual Student Discussion Forum Contribution” report so that you can see the category and topic title in which a post was made, and even see the original post to which the student replied (if the post is a reply). This gives you much greater context for grading individual student posts when using the two browser tab method.

Again, as there is no way to provide a separate score for each post and separate comments for each post at this time, all the students see is their cumulative score and a cumulative text box with your comments about their work when they look at the Gradebook.

The CoursePlus team is working to make grading discussion forum posts more flexible. In the meantime, these workarounds can help facilitate the process.

If you have suggestions on how to make grading in the discussion forum better, please let CTL Help know!