Discussion Forum Posting Rubric

Since online discussions are probably new to you, the following notes are a guide to use in writing your posts and responding to the posts of other students (and instructors).    Your writing, especially in responses to other students, is expected to be casual in tone and syntax.  This is not a formal paper …. it is meant to replace what would normally happen in a classroom discussion.

Posts which are in all three columns are desirable–e.g., casual, friendly posts help to begin conversations and build community; descriptive posts help to build understanding of content; reflective/analytical posts tend to challenge thinking and content and take the learning to a deeper level. Generally, posts that achieve a level of reflective-analytical at least 15-25% of the time is considered more than adequate.

You are encouraged to contribute to all three kinds of posts, as appropriate. Just the same as you would in a face-to-face discussion. Not all discussion is heavily reflective and analytic; sometimes you just have to let your classmates know that you are present and thinking about the points they have made.  Especially with this sudden shift to a global, online learning community, just letting your classmates know that you are reading their ideas is important.

In addition to considering the QUALITY of posts, also consider the timeliness of both initial posts and responsive posts (posts in which you respond to others in your discussion group).   It is important to post you initial response to the assignment on time so that other students have time to read and think about your answers.  THEN, make sure you come back within a day or two to read other groups’ or students’ posts and respond with your thoughts and questions.  Finally, make sure that you come back again in a day or two to respond and answer any questions or comments that other students made on your initial posts.

Casual- Friendly Descriptive    Reflective-analytical
Initial post
  • Restate ideas or issues from the reading.
  • Identify similar experiences in your own projects (this term, early classes, or intern/work-related).
  • Accurately reflect reading content.
  • Identify your own experience relevant to readings.
  • Describe insights based on integration of experience and readings.
  • Analyze and evaluate the discussion prompt in light of your reading and defend your evaluation.
  • Identify insights and project how these apply to your work, your life, or your projects.
  • Identify assumptions you hold that have been clarified, challenged, or affirmed.
  • Identify ethical or diversity considerations that relate to the prompt (don’t forget the ACM Code).
Response or follow-up posts
  • Praise or criticism, e.g., “I love what you said about X, Y, and Z.”
  • Show a presence, e.g., “I’ve read this and am thinking about it, not sure if I agree with you, but need to give it more thought.
  • Recognition of agreement or disagreement: validate and explain or defend underlying reasoning or assumptions.
  • Demonstrate further analysis.
  • Demonstrate further insight.
  • Coherently and eloquently validate and explain, or defend underlying reasoning and assumptions.
  • Seek to challenge and fully understand differences or similarities.
  • Construct new meaning and application to professional or personal context.

These guidelines for evaluation of discussions is adapted from the work of several faculty in the Education Department at the University of Minnesota, most notably Julia Williams and Kim Riordan.

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