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Grading Discussion Board Participation

Last Modified
10:57, 22 Aug 2013

In a face-to-face classroom setting, students are expected to participate in class discussions and that participation is part of the equation when assessing performance.You may find that assessing this type of participation is ambiguous. How do you differentiate between a student who is active, but does not advance the discussion, from a student who speaks less frequently, but with greater impact?

Student interactions with the discussion board create a permanent record of participation, yet you also need to have reasonable expectations about what can be accomplished in an online discussion. Due to its nature, more time may be needed for well-articulated points to emerge in the online environment. In addition to providing a practical number of course discussion opportunities, students need timely and constructive responses regarding the quality of their contributions. Evaluation not only lets them know how they performed, but shapes the improvement of future interactions.

You can assign discussion grades within a forum or thread. You can assign grades based on student participation, on the quality of their posts, or a combination of the two. You can create rubrics and refer to them while grading forums and threads, but you need to create and associate the rubrics in advance. To learn more, see Rubrics.

The following table details the four steps in the discussion grading process.

Discussion Grading Process
Activity Description
Create When you create a graded forum or thread, a column is created automatically in the Grade Center. The name of the forum or thread is used as the column title. You can edit the title in the Grade Center.
Participate Students participate in the discussion. As the discussion progresses, you can participate and provide feedback by replying to, rating, and moderating posts. To learn more, see Participating in the Discussion Board and How to Control Discussion Board Content (Moderating).
Grade You view students' posts and assign grades. You can lock threads after they are graded.
View Grade The grades are saved in the discussion board and the Grade Center. Students can view their grades in My Grades.

How to Enable Grading in the Discussion Board

When you create or edit a forum, you can enable grading options. After grading is enabled, a Grade Center column is created automatically.

The grade settings appear in the Forum Settings section of the Create Forum page and the Edit Forum page.

  • Select Grade Discussion Forum and type a point value to evaluate participants on performance throughout a forum.
  • Select Grade Threads to evaluate participants on performance in each thread.
  • Optionally, select the check box for Show participants in needs grading status and the number of posts required to show participants in needs grading status. Applying this setting will show the needs grading icon ( green exclamation mark ) in the Grade Center. The posts are placed in the queue on the Needs Grading page after each user makes the specified number of posts. If you select a grading option and do NOT select the check box, the needs grading icon does not appear in the Grade Center and posts do not appear on the Needs Grading page. To learn more, see About the Needs Grading Page.

    If you choose three posts from the drop-down list and a user submits two, the in progress icon ( ) appears in the Grade Center cell and the discussion board until the specified number of posts is met.

  • Optionally, associate a rubric by pointing to Add Rubric. This option appears in the Forum Settings section when Grade Forum is selected, and in the Grading section of the Create Thread page when Grade Threads is selected. To learn more, see Rubrics.

Enable Grading During Forum Creation

  1. Access the discussion board and click on the action bar.
  2. On the Create Forum page, provide the appropriate information. In the Forum Settings section, select Grade Discussion Forum or Grade Threads. If you chose to grade the forum, type the Points possible. Optionally, select the check box for Show participants in needs grading status and select the number of posts from the drop-down list.
  3. Click Submit.

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Enable Grading by Editing a Forum

  1. Access the discussion board and access a forum's contextual menu.
  2. Select Edit.
  3. On the Edit Forum page, in the Forum Settings section, select Grade Discussion Forum or Grade Threads. If you chose to grade the forum, type the Points possible. Optionally, select the check box for Show participants in needs grading status and select the number of posts from the drop-down list.
  4. Click Submit.

Enable Thread Grading During Thread Creation

If you chose to grade threads when you created a forum, you decide on a thread-by-thread basis whether to grade a thread.

If you select the Grade Threads option, users cannot create new threads.

  1. On the Create Thread page, select the Grade Thread check box and type the Points possible. You can determine when posts go into needs grading status by selecting the check box for Show participants in needs grading status and selecting the number of posts from the drop-down list.
  2. Click Submit.
  3. In the forum, the Grade Thread function appears in the thread's Grade column.

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Enable Thread Grading After Thread Creation

When you select the Grade Threads option, you can enable thread grading directly from the thread list in a forum.

  1. Click the Grade function in a thread's Grade column.

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  2. Type the Points possible.
  3. Click Submit. The Grade Thread function appears in a thread's Grade column.

If you want to use a rubric to grade a forum or thread, you must create it and associate it in advance. To learn more, see Rubrics.

How to Grade User Participation in a Forum

You can assign discussion grades to evaluate participants on performance throughout a forum. When you create or edit a forum, you can enable forum grading options and a Grade Center column is created automatically.

Only users with a role of manager or grader can assign grades for posts. However, a grader cannot view his or her own work. To learn more, see How to Assign Discussion Forum Roles.

You can create rubrics and refer to them while grading forums, but you must create and associate the rubrics in advance. To learn more, see Rubrics.

  1. Access the discussion forum where you enabled forum grading and click Grade Forum on the action bar.
  2. On the Grade Discussion Forum Users page, click Grade in a user's row with a number in the Posts column.

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  3. On the Grade Discussion Forum page, a collection of the student's posts made to the graded forum appears. Since you can assign a forum grade based on multiple threads, all messages posted by a student are included for review. On the action bar, click Print Preview to open the page in a new window in a printer-friendly format. Posts print in the order they appear on the page. To select which posts appear and in which order, you can filter and sort posts using the Filter function and the Sort By and Order drop-down lists on the action bar.

    The side panel contains three sections:

    • Forum Statistics: Includes information about the user's posts, such as Date of Last Post, Average Post Length, and Average Post Position.
    • Forum Grade: Includes Grade, Grade Date, Feedback, and Grading Notes.
    • Contributors: Users who have submitted the required number of posts appear with exclamation marks—the needs grading icon ( green exclamation mark ) or, if they have not yet reached the required number, the in progress icon ( ). In this section, use the Previous User and Next User arrows to navigate among users to grade or click a user's name in the list. Click Show All to view all users in your course. Users who have not posted to the graded forum are included in the list. Click Show with Posts Only to return to the list of users who have posts to grade.
  4. In the content frame, evaluate the currently selected user's posts. To assign a grade, click Edit Grade in the Forum Grade section.

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  5. Type a numeric value in the Current Grade Value box. Assigning a score here removes any Grade Center override that may exist for this user for this forum grade.

    If you created and added a rubric for this graded forum, click View Rubric to reference it while grading. To learn more, see Rubrics.

  6. Optionally, type Feedback for the user and Grading Notes, which appear to the forum manager or grader only. Optionally, use the Spell Check function in the bottom of each text box.
  7. Optionally, click Text Editor to access the content editor in a pop-up window. Use the functions to format the text and include files, images, web links, multimedia and mashups to your feedback or notes.
  8. Click Save Grade. The information appears in the Forum Grade section.
  9. Click Edit Grade to make changes at any time. The changes appear in the Forum Grade section and in the Grade Center column. The changes are recorded in the Grade Center on the user's Grade Details page on the Grade History tab.

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  10. When grading is complete, click OK to return to the Grade Discussion Forum Users page or use the breadcrumbs to return to the discussion board.

Grades appear in the Grade column on the Grade Discussion Forum Users page and in the Grade Center.

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How to Grade User Participation in a Thread

You can assign discussion grades to evaluate participants on performance in each thread. When you create or edit a forum, you can enable thread grading options and a Grade Center column is created automatically.

Only users with a role of manager or grader can assign grades for posts. However, a grader cannot view his or her own work. To learn more, see How to Assign Discussion Forum Roles.

Students cannot create new threads in a forum where threads are graded.

You can create rubrics and refer to them while grading threads, but you must create and associate the rubrics in advance. To learn more, see Rubrics.

  1. Access the discussion forum containing a thread you want to grade.
  2. On the thread listing page, in List View, click Grade Thread in the thread's row.
  3. On the Grade Discussion Thread Users page, click Grade in a user's row with a number in the Posts column.

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  4. On the Grade Discussion Thread page, a collection of the student's posts made to the graded thread appears. Since you can assign a thread grade based on multiple messages, all messages posted by a student are included for review. On the action bar, click Print Preview to open the page in a new window in a printer-friendly format. Posts print in the order they appear on the page. To select which posts appear and in which order, you can filter and sort posts using the Filter function and the Sort By and Order drop-down lists on the action bar.

    The side panel contains three sections:

    • Thread Statistics: Includes information about the user's posts, such as Date of Last Post, Average Post Length, and Average Post Position.
    • Thread Grade: Includes Grade, Grade Date, Feedback, and Grading Notes.
    • Contributors: Users who have submitted the required number of posts appear with exclamation marks—the needs grading icon ( green exclamation mark ) or, if they have not yet reached the required number, the in progress icon ( ). In this section, use the Previous User and Next User arrows to navigate among users to grade -OR- click a user's name in the list. Click Show All to view all users in your course. Users who have not posted to the graded thread are included in the list. Click Show with Posts Only to return to the list of users who have posts to grade.
  5. In the content frame, click Edit Grade in the Thread Grade section.

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  6. Type a numeric value in the Current Grade Value box. Assigning a score here removes any Grade Center override that may exist for this user for this thread grade.

    If you created and added a rubric for this graded thread, click View Rubric to reference it while grading. To learn more, see Rubrics.

  7. Optionally, type Feedback for the user and Grading Notes, which appear to the forum Manager or Grader only. Optionally, use the Spell Check function in the bottom of each text box.
  8. Optionally, click Text Editor to access the content editor in a pop-up window. Use the functions to format the text and include files, images, web links, multimedia, and mashups to your feedback or notes.
  9. Click Save Grade. The information appears in the Thread Grade section.
  10. Click Edit Grade to make changes at any time. The changes appear in the Thread Grade section and in the Grade Center column. The changes are recorded in the Grade Center on the user's Grade Details page on the Grade History tab.

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  11. When grading is complete, click OK to return to the Grade Discussion Thread Users page or use the breadcrumbs to return to the discussion board.

Grades appear in the Grade column on the Grade Discussion Thread Users page and in the Grade Center.

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How to Email Users While Grading Discussion Participation

While assigning grades, you can use the email tool in the discussion board to quickly contact students. For example, send a student a question prior to assigning a grade or send feedback after assigning a grade.

  1. Navigate to a forum or thread to assign a grade.
  2. On the Grade Discussion Thread Users page or the Grade Discussion Forum Users page, select one or multiple users' check boxes, or select the check box in the header row to select all the users you want to email.
  3. On the action bar, click Email.
  4. On the Email Forum User page, edit the Subject, if needed.
  5. Type a question or feedback in the Message box.
  6. Click Submit.

How to Disable Grading for a Discussion Forum or Thread

Even if grades exist, you can disable grading for graded forums and threads.

  1. Access the discussion board and access a forum's contextual menu.
  2. Select Edit.
  3. On the Edit Forum page, in the Forum Settings section, change the grading option to No Grading in Forum.
  4. Click Submit. If you already assigned grades for a forum or its threads, a warning message appears stating that disabling grading will delete all existing grades. This action is final.
  5. Click OK to continue or click Cancel to preserve the Grade Center items.

As you decide whether to disable grading for a forum, the number in the Points possible box appears grayed out.

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video  Grading a Discussion Board Forum (Flash movie | 2m 39s)

video  Grading a Discussion Board Thread (Flash movie | 2m 36s)

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