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Discussion Board Rubrics

Basic Rubric

MU instructors teaching online courses have used this streamlined rubric to assess student discussion board participation.

Grading Criteria for Weekly Discussion Question Postings (4 points/week, 60 points total)

Your weekly postings will be assessed using the following guidelines. Of course, your postings are expected for each weekly unit of the course and the final evaluation will take place the final week of class. Your original postings addressing the weekly discussion questions should be made no later than noon each Wednesday. Final postings commenting and reflecting upon the posts of your peers should be made no later than noon each Friday -- late postings will not be given credit. If you post weekly and interact with your peers, you can expect full credit unless otherwise notified.

As you can see, the following rubrics assess the quality of your postings and not the quantity (we're not looking for "good idea" or "I agree").

Weekly Discussion Posting Grading Criteria
Weekly Point Value
Meaningful and New Ideas: Ideas examine topic from new perspective that contributes to group understanding of topic
Message Coherence: Messages explain issues, provide new perspectives, effectively question, or meaningfully elaborate on topic
Relevance of Replies to Other Messages: Responses elaborate, contradict, modify, or explain the original message

Detailed Rubric

Instructors accustomed to more sophisticated grading rubrics may find this example useful

To facilitate ease of use and communication, all online discussion postings should be typed or pasted directly into the discussion message window.

For each discussion, please take time to consider the associated reading before posting your initial comments. Pay particular attention to the focus of the assignment outlined by your instructor. "Initial comments" are your original thoughts about the assignment, posted prior to reading/replying to messages posted by your classmates.

In order for our online discussions to be effective it is important for each member of the class to participate during the allotted time frame. In addition, your presence in the discussion should be apparent throughout the discussion period.

When composing replies here are a few approaches to consider:

  • provide an alternative perspective
  • share stories about your own experiences
  • ask questions to further the discussion
  • post additional resources (websites, books, articles)
  • discuss why you agree or disagree with something

Your participation in each online discussion will be evaluated based on the following rubric:



Needs Improvement



Initial Comments


Initial comments were posted but did not address the assignment.


Initial comments address some of the assignment requirements. Comments are not well organized and show limited knowledge and evaluation of the topic.


Initial comments address most, but not all, of the assignment. Comments are reasonably organized and demonstrate adequate familiarity and analysis of the content.


Initial comments thoroughly address all parts of the assignment. The comments are clearly and concisely stated, demonstrating that the content was appropriately reviewed and synthesized.

Message Quality



Postings are not substantial, limited to "I agree" types of replies.


Only one substantial message was posted.


Multiple postings including some substantial content were posted, however, a limited number include errors or need additional supporting detail.


Multiple postings are made offering substantial, well written contributions-opinions, observations, questions, experiences, critiques, suggestions, etc.



Questions/comments posed to you were not addressed.


Several questions/comments posed to you were not addressed.


The majority of questions/comments posed to you were addressed.


All questions/comments posed to you were appropriately addressed.

Contribution/ Duration


Participation was not continuous throughout the discussion period (1 day only). Replies were only posted for 1 classmate.


Postings were submitted on at least 2 different days during the discussion period (11:xx PM and 12:xx AM the next day does not qualify). Replies were posted for at least 2 classmates.


Postings were submitted on 3 or more days during the discussion period (2 or more during a 1-week discussion), but may not reflect participation from start to finish. Replies were posted for at least 2 classmates.


Postings are evenly distributed throughout the discussion period reflecting participation from start to finish. Multiple replies were posted for at least 3 classmates or more.



Postings are not appropriate--poor grammar/structure, inappropriate slang/abbreviations, etc.


Postings include inappropriate references and may include several errors in grammar/structure.


Posting are reasonably appropriate, but contain a few errors.


Postings are appropriate, using proper language, cordiality, grammar, punctuation, etc.

Detailed rubric created by Lisa A. Heaton, Elementary and Secondary Education, Graduate School of Education and Professional Development, Marshall University. e-mail: heaton at