University of Wisconsin–Madison

Evaluating Discussion Posts for the Pivot to Online Instruction

Now that instruction has moved online, how will you evaluate all those discussion posts?

Here are three examples of ways to respond. Whichever you choose, please communicate clearly to students how you will be evaluating their posts.

Example 1 corresponds to the prompt on this page and is adapted from the WAC Sourcebook (available to download here).

Examples 2 and 3 are drawn from chapter 7 of John Bean’s Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom (available for free via UW Libraries).

Example 1:  Rubric for Discussion Posts and Responses (built in Canvas; clickable for quick grading)





Excellent: fully, originally, and specifically answers the prompt. It uses evidence from the text to support its claims, and it does not repeat lectures. An excellent response thoughtfully engages with a peer’s work, offering both affirmation and productive disagreement, supported with evidence and offering insightful observation and questions.

10.0 pts

Good: mostly answers the prompt. It uses some evidence from the text, though it may not offer much originality. A good response attempts to push conversation further, though they may not offer much more insight than the original post.

8.0 pts

Poor: Doesn’t answer the prompt fully and does not provide enough textual evidence. It may only repeat lectures and be vague. A poor response is short, unthoughtful, or unproductive.

5.0 pts

Incomplete: An incomplete discussion post is either not completed or attempted. An incomplete response is either not unfinished or is inappropriate.

0.0 pts

10.0 pts

Total Points:  10.0

Important note: It can save time and frustration to create rubrics in Google Sheets first and then import them into Canvas. Here are instructions for using Google Sheets to create rubrics and for importing those rubrics into Canvas.

Example 2: Check/Plus/Minus Scale

+  Indicates a strongly engaged, especially high-quality exploration.

✓ Indicates the post meets your expectations for length (or time on task) and engagement.

–   Indicates that piece is too short or too superficial.

Example 3: Five- Point Scale 

Score of 5: Meets or exceeds required length; strongly engaged, high-quality exploration.

Score of 4: Meets or exceeds required length; meets teacher’s expectations for engagement. 

Score of 3: High-quality exploration, but too short or meets required length but is too superficial. 

Score of 2 or 1: Too short and too superficial.