Evaluating Student Posts in Online Course Forums

Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

Online courses lose the real-time conversations that happen in a classroom, but technology can replicate the process through online forums. In this lesson, we will analyze how to assess students' contributions in online discussion forums.

World Wide Web

An online course is far different than being present in a classroom. Most students that choose online courses think reducing class time is helpful to their busy schedules, but with that loss comes the lack of valuable peer discussions. As educators, we need to ensure we are incorporating that same level of meaningful conversation to build community and content knowledge in online classes. But how can we do that considering we will never meet our class in person?

The answer is online forums or discussion boards. But how do we evaluate online posts, so the students take posting seriously and truly get something from the experience? On top of that challenge, how do we, as teachers, evaluate their responses?

Let's take a look at some rubric examples and decide which is best for our individual needs.


The best way to assess student knowledge is through objective lessons with clear and coherent guidelines. Rubrics are a great way to keep everyone on the same page when it comes to what is expected of the students and how the teacher will fairly grade student work. By breaking up each assignment into a different weight and assignment type, and always posting the rubrics before discussions begin, the students can see what is expected of them before they complete their responses and learn how to improve when the graded rubrics are posted.

Informal Evaluations

Not everything has to be strict, organized, and rigid when it comes to education. As teachers, we know how valuable open-ended discussions can be to express individual thought and make connections to our lives and the real world. These moments are just as important as learning a new concept or formula.

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