## Teaching with Moodle

### Best Practices for grading discussions

Hi everyone,

I was hoping to get a collection of ideas for both grading discussion content and discussion participation for course. This is the one thing that always stumps me when setting up a course in Moodle.

I don't want to rely on peer ratings, I want an actual teacher grade. Of course, one of the problems is that you can't just "add a grade" in the grade book. Okay, so I can get around that by setting up a forum to allow rating and then overriding student rating--but it seems that the student can still see their own rating. So, do you rate every post? Not practical. Do you rate random posts? You can also add a hidden assignment, then give everyone a grade for discussion participation--but I really don't like that idea.

Aside from that, what are some ways you grade discussions? Do you give "points" for each discussion. Do you give a separate grade for discussion content? How?

Thanks

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Chardelle,

My workaround (to this difficulty which really SHOULD be fixed, given the importance of the forum to most learning structures in Moodle) has been to create a non-dropbox assignment labeled "Forum Participation." In the assignment, I tell students that they don't have to do anything there, but that the assignment will house their forum participation grade.

I have a forum for each week, and a forum assignment for each week--that way I can track and assess participation within a finite time period.

I wrote a very detailed rubric for quality forum post content and I enforced it.

And, finally, I graded students for a week of forum posting, which should have included one post answering an assigned research question, then two posts in response to another student's post. This way, students were assessed for interaction with one another, not just for their first post. This insured that the forum stayed "live" throughout the week.

The first post was due midweek, the next two posts weren't due until classtime on the following week. This guaranteed that there were original classmate posts for students to respond to.

A complex strategy, which required some work from me, but it did get superb forum participation from the students. This structure is far more complex than simply adding the ability to grade forums to Moodle.

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

I have used Amy's approach many times as well. For just a quick participation grade I just use the rate forum configuration. I assign 10 points for the grade and then rate each post. I usually require 2 or 3 posts so rating each one is not difficult. I also create a new forum for each topic that I want students to discuss so there is a separate grade book entry for the discussions.

If I am going to assess content I just add more points and build the participation components into the scoring rubric. It does take a bit more effort to manage things doing it this way but it works as long as students are familiar with the rubrics.

As far as students seeing there own ratings I have no problem with this. It is immediate feedback. They should see them eventually any way. But it would also be nice to have the setting that only a teacher can see the ratings.

It would be nice if the forum module had two different settings for grading. I could see an option that says something like "Required Posts" where you tell the system how many posts each student should have. This could be further broken down into replies and discussions so you can assign them independently of each other. Then the system automatically checks to see if the student had the correct number of posts and calculates a separate participation grade that is added to the grade book.

Then there would be a rate option for rating content similar to the rating scale now. You rate each post as you do now and the system, as it currently does, averages the score from all the ratings.

The other option is to have the system assign some sort of grade for each post and add it to the grade book. Very granular but I would think a bit on the over kill side.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Randy and Amy, would you be willing to share your grading rubric(s) for quality with us? I am working on the instructional design of graduate level courses, and struggling right now how to set up the grading book entries as well as the quality criteria for the forum posts. Email direct to Irmgard.Willcockson@uth.tmc.edu. Thanks for the discussion, by the way, it has already helped me figure out how to do one summer class.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Irmgard, I will have to dig in some old syllabi...

I will email direct to you. Also posting here, in case others want to see:

Forum
Every week I will post questions in a choice format. You will choose one question, investigate it on the internet, and report your findings back to the forum by Wednesday of that week, 11:55pm. Then also respond to three different postings by other students by Saturday of that week, 11:55pm. All these activites are graded. Lazy research, careless reading, lack of depth in thought will earn fewer points. I may also post additional questions in the forum. If I do, you are also required to answer those questions, and do any work they require.

Criteria for satisfactory forum posts:
• If a choice question, student has answered the question
• Student has researched the topic in a source outside of the Moodle course
• Student research is cited with URL, accession date or publication date, and author, if available
• Student placed quoted passages in quotes
• Student shows that they are thinking about the information in a larger context, or applying the information to their own life in a new way

If the forum post does not meet all of these criteria, I will give it no points. That's right, no points whatsoever. Do your research, cite your sources, read carefully, and THINK. We teach one another in this course, which means you have a responsibility to your classmates.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Wow, great ideas!

I think this will be great info for further development of grading forums-yes it definitely needs some work!

Until then, I think Amy's suggestion of adding an online assignment for each week's forum -- and then using this to grade the "content" of the discussions and give some feedback and a grade will probably be the best way. BTW Amy, in 1.7, if you override the forum roles and check that students can't view ratings, then students will not be able to see other students' ratings.

And then, like Randy suggests, use the forum ratings to "grade" participation--e.g. simply give 1 point for each post. I like Randy's ideas for grading.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Chardelle - I have typically created an offline assignment to hold the grade for the forum post. I do grade each post. As the Moodle Admin I have cheated and use a little sql query to have Moodle report the maximum rating. Reason being is that I encourage students to respond to others but they are required to make one substantial response. I prefer quality to quantity and I do not want to penalize them for making shorter replies to other student's replies. To make grading easier, I have recently allowed students to reply but not to create discussions. It has cut down greatly the amount of clicking I have to do. I have voted for MDL-3942 which requests the ability to use different scoring methods (sum, average, max, min). I think this would give teachers more control over how they wish to use the forums. Peace.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Good thoughts Anthony, and thanks for posting that tracker issue!

(relating to Martin's post in the tracker)--we are talking about two different issues here: quality and quantity--these two concepts do NOT have to be in conflict. The conflict only arises because there is no good way to grade both as the forum is now.

Again I see that it is necessary to create an assignment to grade forums--so this is definitely and issue that needs to be dealt with.

And, I too often struggle as to whether to allow learners to start new discussions as well as require them to reply to each other's discussions, or to only post replies to a discussion that the facilitator has started. Perhaps a combination of the two practices could be used in a course.

And peace to you to Anthony.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
It is tricky to say what the best way to do the grading would be. In reality, some student posts are very poor quality, and I want to look at every one, and assign a grade personally, and not have that be automatic. But I agree with what you're saying, Randy. There should be a way to select whether you want to use forum ratings, or grade forum posts. I would really like it if that grade was only visible to the instructor and the graded student, and not to everyone, like a rating is. Some students in my writing classes are very self-conscious about writing at all. I don't want them to have to deal with the pressure of having everyone else in the class see their grade.

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Hi Amy, and everyone

This thread is deeply motivated and engaging, thanks to everyone. I want to vote for Amy's concern toward poor writing learners and discrete teacher's grading.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Just a correction here ...

Ratings can certainly be hidden from other students.

In 1.6, where you set the forum settings, you can choose an option labelled "Students can only see their own ratings".

In 1.7 and later you need to go into the "Roles" tab and use the overrides to decide exactly what each role can and can't do in that forum.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

I'm still reading, but rating each post in a forum creates an average grade for the forum. So say ratings in the settings are set to 10 points for the discussion. If you rate three posts by a student in the forum and assign 9 points to one, 8 points to the other, and 10 points to the third, the score for this student's forum grade equals (9+8+10)/3 = 9. That's the total they get for the forum, not 27.

Anyone else run into this?

- Mary

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Amy - Thanks for sharing you rubric. I too attempted to develop a rubric which I have shared with others but I always like seeing/reading what others have done. I am attaching my draft rubric. Peace - Anthony

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Hi Amy,

I do not understand what you call "a non-dropbox assignment". As far as I can see there are 3 types of assignments (Moodle 1.6): Offline activity, Online text and Upload a single file.

Also, it is not clear from your post what the contents of that assignment labeled "Forum Participation" will be. Will the students have to post anything to it? or the teacher just uses it to put grades in it?

Thanks for clarifying,

Joseph

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Hi Joseph,

In Moodle terminology, the assignment type I would use would be called an "offline activity." Students do NOTHING in the assignment, and I give them no assignment in that space. In fact, I put a message there saying: "You don't have to do anything in this assignment space. This assignment will house your forum participation grade for this week."

The forum assignment only functions as a way of qualitatively grading the forum posts for a given week so that they go in the gradebook. Every week when I graded other assignments, I would also apply my rubric to the forum posts, and give my students a grade in that assignment space for forum participation.

Hope that helps.

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Thanks Amy, that is perfectly clear now.
Joseph

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
This is a valuable discussion that most Moodlers are never going to see. Maybe some of it should find its way into docs.moodle.org.

Just a thought.

Regards,
Art

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
"Maybe some of it should find its way into docs.moodle.org."

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
The question is where to put it when it is more or less "done," I guess.

-- Art

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Hi Art,

I needed information on scaling, and met that discussion, wich deepened my sight about forum grading. I share your evaluation and intend to lead french community towards. At least English speaking among us.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Don't know how I missed this, Fred.

I do think it is a valuable discussion that is worth sharing and preserving. Glad we agree on that!

Regards,
Art

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

I just print off a roster of kids and make a tally mark on paper for each significant discussion. I subtract tallies for hijacking threads. That's it. Actually, since I've started discussions on Moodle, the students have always surpassed my expectations for discussion - they've communicated more than in a verbal discussion. I do wish I would spend more time coaching them on how to post properly though (start w/a quote...page number...say something intelligent...end with a question).

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
(We've ugpraded to 1.8 I see.)

This is a nice solution for keeping track, however, the problem still remains as to how to get a grade for discussions into the course grades!

One idea I have had is to create a "real" online assignment and have students copy and paste there what they think was their best forum post and why.... Then the teacher can simply go to the submitted assignments and give the grades. However, you would still have to "manually" track the quantity of posts.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Here is a link for an "Asynchronous Formal Class Discussion Rubric".

http://www.luc.edu/learningtech/pdfs/rubric_asynchronous.pdf

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Jessica, what exactly is it you mean when you mention "hijacking threads"?

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Well,I have been paying a bit of attention to this thread. I hope I am not off topic or my use of the forums is too far segregated from the way others use it.

I have been using the Q and A forum type in the following sequence.

students are presented with a problem and are required to arrive at some sort of solution, or at least approach to the problem.

When they are ready, they post to the discussion their possible solution, adding any attachments etc. to their post.

When they see other solutions or approaches, they modify their original approach or solution by replying to their own post.

So grading the forum becomes a work flow issue.

The drop down grading is just too convenient not to want to build on. You see the post, you rate it, the rating goes to the grade book. No other assignments, no reading one page, recording on another.

Currently the grades are averaged throughout the entire forum. If someone misses posting solutions to three of five discussions inside a forum, they get an average of what they receive on the other two. This means the teacher is required to dig through the forums and make sure all of the discussions have been answered and adjust accordingly.

An average of the ratings in a discussion question followed by an average of the discussion ratings would improve the work flow for this approach.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
It seems like John has a good method.

But it occurs to me that all of us in this forum are actually discussing two different kinds of forum assessment:
• assessing learner posts in response to instructor questions; and,
• assessing learner interaction via the forum with other learners.

If we only want to grade learner post quality for a given time period, then the rating will work great. But... if we want to assess, say, how adequately a student has responded to other students--this is the element I consider most important to a quality forum, at least for the types of courses I teach--then it doesn't seem to me like it would be enough to use the ratings. If I want students to both complete my assignment, and then respond to three other students' completed assignments within one forum...

...and if the first post in response to me should be worth, say, 6 points, and the other posts, in response to other students, are only worth two points apiece. I can't do that with ratings, can I?

Also, how does the rating get sent to the gradebook... is there a point total per post, or a point total per forum? If one student posts 10 times instead of 4, way beyond their required amount, will it increase their overall points for the course, and therefore mess up my gradebook as represented in the syllabus? I'm asking because when I decided against using the ratings (over a year ago) these were the issues I was having problems with. Have they been resolved? If so, ratings is an adequate solution for a grading structure that can encourage quality posts and quality forum interaction. If not, then either ratings needs more flexibility, or there should be another option for assessment of forum activities.

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Yes, Amy, that was the purpose of this discussion. So, it has become obvious that grading forums is inadequate as it stands now. Can we delineate exactly what we need? A good place to start is with examples of what it will look like and what it will do--something that the Moodle developers could use.

For example, a mockup screenshot of what could be added to the forum options. What could be added to the gradebook? What could be done differently with the post ratings?

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
I've prepped a PDF with mocked-up screenshots of my thoughts... It's over 100 KB, however. Is there any other way--I have no web site of my own right now--to get a document into the forum?

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Wow, you're fast! If you'd like to send it to me, I can provide a link to it.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

I've been following this discussion so I thought I'd add my thoughts.

Why is it important to grade discussions?

Teachers can get a bit obsessed with generating marks and collecting grades only to write them down and forget about them. What is the purpose of grading a forum post? to show a pupil that they have taken time and effort to think and write something meaningful? they probably know this allready as they wrote the post! Pupils that do not achieve a good grade will not be very motivated to produce better work next time.

A grade is only useful if the pupil knows what they need to do to get a better one and acts on it. I prefer to write comments including one thing I liked about their post and one thing they could improve for next time.

Next time you give a grade think "what is the purpose of this? and how does it improve pupils' learning?"

Vinny

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Here is the link to a mockup that Amy has provided for improving the grading of discussions. It would be great if we could work on this.

Mockup in pdf

Mockup doc

I'm not sure I understand your thoughts on grading discussions Vinny. As with any learning activity, the purpose of grading is to:
1. Show that the student as done the work required.
2. Show how well the student has done the work.
3. Distinguish how well the student has understood the concepts.
etc.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Sorry maybe I didn't explain my ideas well. I don't intend to drag this topic off the point but I think it is important for people to think about the reasons behind giving marks for work. (Hence I like Jessica's tally idea for contribution).

I there are two main types of assesment. Summative eg. a test or exam (which includes your points 2 and 3) and formative which is used to inform my teaching (what bits I need to teach again) and the pupil's learning (what they need to look at again). Formative happens all the time in lessons with questioning, mini quizzes etc and summative at the end of the course or unit of work. My point is, the purpose of all assesment and grading should be that it increases learning and so it must highlight what the pupil needs to do to improve. I would like to see a function similar to that which is built into the Workshop module that allows you to easily click and add 'auto text' and just give written feedback along the lines of 'Good ideas, I liked ........ Perhaps next time you could ...........'

I would use the Assignment module if I wanted to check specific understanding of concepts.

BTW This has really highlighted to me how difficult it is to express ideas accurately in a discussion forum rather than verbally, so maybe I wouldn't get a good grade for this work!

Vinny

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
I there are two main types of assesment. Summative eg. a test or exam (which includes your points 2 and 3) and formative which is used to inform my teaching (what bits I need to teach again) and the pupil's learning (what they need to look at again).

It seems to me that what we're trying to do here is create an additional form of assessment, Vinny. Maybe you teach blended classrooms, so that your students see one another and interact in person, or maybe you teach a subject which can be quantitatively measured easily. But there are far more approaches to teaching than that, and may, may different kinds of learners using Moodle.

My teaching experience using Moodle is with working adult learners in a distance delivery setting. My students were scattered across Alaska, and I saw them twice a year. Their ability to establish connections with their classmates (according to our interview and survey data) was instrumental to matriculation. However, students with low computer literacy--especially working adult learners--are not likely to build rapport with one another in Moodle unless given a little encouragement. My experience demonstrates the following:
• Learners do not post to forums just for the fun of it. Would YOU post to moodle.org if you weren't getting valuable information in exchange? In a higher ed setting, learners usually will not post at all unless forum posting is graded. Working adults are worse--they have no time to waste.
• Forum activity is the most valuable kind of learning, because if properly moderated and assessed, it forces learners not only to learn but also to teach their classmates.
• Quantitative learning is not the only kind of learning: one of the most valuable things a student can learn is how to engage with classmates, how to communicate using a variety of media, and how to clearly and effectively get their ideas across. This was especially important for my learners at Alaska Pacific U, many of whom spoke and wrote English as a second language.
At APU, we emphasized qualitative assessment over quantitative assessment. That was an institutional decision. One can always reference the Periodic Table, but if one does not learn how to communicate, life may be difficult. The forums are extremely useful as a tool for collective learning and knowledge building--in fact, I think that's one of the tenents of the social constructivism Martin had in mind when he started building Moodle. This is why it's always bothered me that there was no good way to assess forum activity as an instructor. If we can assess that activity easily, assess the kind of participation which, at APU, we called "active learning," then we can reward our students for the most "Moodle" of learning.

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
That's funny Vinny. Good point!

However, I think you are also hitting the nail on the head of what we really are discussing here--using an assigment to grade. Why can't forums be used to grade content?

And Amy, you too have a valid point here. This has bothered me too. If the forums in Moodle are the pinnacle of constructivism, why are the options so limited?

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussionsW
Better options for summative grades by the teacher (and more options for summative peer grades) are definitely something I want to look at as part of 1.9 and whole grading revamp.

However, you might be selling Moodle a bit short here ... you can already grade posts numerically as well as scales, and have these grades shown in the gradebook. And if you want to provide non-grade feedback there is the "reply" button .

The main point of the forum structure is to keep the feedback in the forums where multiple people can see it and partake ... that is the social constructionism angle, if you like.

The view where a teacher is doing ALL the assessments and keeping them private is, well, teacher-centered and creates a lot of work for one person. I totally understand why some people want to focus on those methods but that's not something I would want to really encourage.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Thank you for dropping in here, Martin. I have experimented with the forum ratings, and used roles to restrict learner view of ratings, and I agree that with a little bit of tweaking, the ratings are an excellent tool for forum assessment.

In my opinion, the fact that the forum reports an average of the ratings to the gradebook rewards students who participate very little the same as students who participate a lot. And that is the one thing I'd change. Maybe this is what you mean when you say "summative grades." I would like to be able to reward a student who is very active in the forum, or at least encourage a given minimum of posts.

Perhaps the controlling teacher in me has gotten ahead of the goals of Moodle. In my defense, I have to say that it is difficult to teach students the inherent value in constructivist uses of technology without a little, shall we say, encouragement. Usually they "get it" after a while. But some never do. What I've found is that the instructor has to be VERY active in the forum for it to really work. Perhaps that's bad teaching, or perhaps it's just the way certain forms of education work in the here and now. I would certainly change it if I had my druthers. Among a student population that valued learning in and of itself, it would not be such an issue.

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Hi Amy,

> the fact that the forum reports an average of the ratings to the gradebook rewards students who participate very little the same as students who participate a lot.

I quite agree. What I do is as follows. For each forum in a given course, I count the total number of new posts and the total number of replies posted by each student. Then in my favorite spreadsheet I have written a formula to compute a "forum grade" which takes into account a) the average grade for that forum taken from the gradebook, b) the number of new posts and c) the number of replies. The resulting grade takes into account both quantity and quality. However, because there is no reporting tool in Moodle to output data b) and c), I have to calculate the numbers by hand, going through each student's "complete report".

> it is difficult to teach students the inherent value in constructivist uses of technology...

Actually, one reason why I prefer to do the forums grading myself is that it is difficult to teach the students the criteria for judging their classmates' forum discussions (or their own). This is all the more difficult as my courses are English as a foreign language classes, where I have to evaluate the language used as well as the contents. So I end up wanting to assess 3 separate elements in the forumu discussions: the contents, the language used and quantity.

> What I've found is that the instructor has to be VERY active in the forum for it to really work.

Well, actually, I've found that it is often the opposite. I've noticed that - when some discussions work really work well between the students - any teacher intervention can easily put an end to the discussion. But of course it really depends how the teacher is active.

> ... I would certainly change it if I had my druthers...

Thanks for making me learn a new expression. And thanks everyone for a most interesting discussion.

Joseph

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Joseph,

I admire your tenacity for hand-tallying all of the student forum activity. What is that spreadsheet formula, and how do you explain it to the students? I would have to have that all very clearly articulated in the syllabus.

I completely agree, about killing a discussion as an instructor, by taking part. I guess what I mean by "being very active" in the forum is that assessment role, the role of enforcing/rewarding quality. Almost an invisible role, really. Omniscient but invisible. I suppose this is exactly what Martin would frown upon, but... it does make for some good writing.

When I was training higher ed instructors to use Moodle, many of them would simply put a forum up in their Moodle course, and expect students to want to use it, or find some reason of their own to post there. Invariably, the forums would not be well-used. All of them, in the end, took a strategy of assessing forum activity in some form--even if it was just as part of a "Participation" grade.

~A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Amy,

1- Here is the principle of my spreadsheet formulas. Suppose during one term I have 4 forums, which are teacher-rated on a 0-5 scale. Let's take 2 typical students, student A and student B .

Formula in cell I3 (student A) =MIN($I$6;SUM(G3;H3/2))

Formula in cell I4 (student B) =MIN($I$6;SUM(G4;H4/2))

Formula in cell J3 =MIN($J$6;SUM(F3;I3))

Formula in cell J4 =MIN($J$6;SUM(F4;I4))

I must admit I have not explained this system to my students and I don't know if I should.

2- Teacher's role: Omniscient but invisible. I agree.

Joseph

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I am using Moodle for the first time, after using eCollege and Blackboard extensively (this is probably creating a learning block for me!).  However, my clients/teachers wish to know if the participants in their course are making the required number of posts.  I set ratings of 1(pass) and 0(no pass/not graded) but the gradebook doesn't add up the total of the ratings for them.  Changing the rating to 3 still leaves a score of 1 in the gradebook.  Stated another way, we want to know that our participants have posted the a minimum of three posts per forum that meet the minimum criteria. I guess I am not sure I understand how to use the gradebook in relation to scoring discussion forums (I've read through several forums, but can't find the information I need).  It appears that the gradebook simply recognizes that one post has been scored and cannot total the number of posts and/or ratings.  I'm sure there's something obvious I've overlooked.  Any ideas?

Thanks, DeVere

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Welcome to Moodle, DeVere. You're posting to the right thread, as there are several methods for assessing forum posts listed above.

Your problem is this: for a single forum, all ratings are averaged. The student's grade in the gradebook is their average, and has no connection to the number of posts.

You'll also see above Martin's comment that increased forum grading functionality is on the list for future moodle development.

But for now, any grading related to number of posts has to be done by hand.

If you decide to go ahead and count up forum posts by hand--or tell your clients to do so, my suggestion is as follows:
• Create a single forum per unit or per topic, so that you don't have to sort through weeks and weeks of posts; or,
• Use the Activity Report, limited to a single week or unit, to see what students have done within a gradable period of time, then add it to an Assignment so that that goes into the gradebook.

But you can find all that and more in the above thread.

~A

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Thanks, Amy. That helps a great deal.  If there is some way to create a discussion grader where an instructor can read all the gathered posts for a given student then assign a score, I'm all for that.  I did think of the hand scoring route, but was hoping to save some time for the folks who are doing the scoring.  I'm glad that the Moodle developers are continuing to work on this issue, as you noted.

best, DeVere

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Great discussions in here!

I have a teacher that is introducing her 5th and 6th graders to moodle and to forums.  We are trying to keep it learning heavy and if we error, we want to do so lightly on the grading.  What we were looking for is a way for her to quickly look through list of participants for the number of posts they had done within a forum.  We can do this by going through the forum (like the tally sheet mentioned in here), or by going through the individual students account but is there a way to quickly see this?

(similarly how you see the submitted assignments page:  list of names and their submitted files)

again thanks for all the ideas in here!
mistermark

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
I am a little sleepy, so you'll have to stay with me if I go astray.

I have developed a rather sophisticated way of grading forum discussions that is based on the following custom scale:

 Rating Explanation Should not be counted toward grade This rating is given to posts that do not meet my grading requirements. Used for: agreement without new substance, general humor, posts that do not fit into the current discussion. Answered as required, but nothing more This rating is given when a post answers all parts of my question, but does nothing more. May shows an absence of depth or thought. Replied as required, but nothing more Same as above, but for replies. Connects back to what others have written This rating is used when an author refers back to a discussion in another forum or thread. Opinion based in fact This rating is given when a person writes a fact-based forum post. The facts could come from lecture, a required reading, or any other external source. Thought-provoking new ideas Lets the author know that what they have written has made others think about the topic in a new way. Used also for unique ideas. Challenges Others’ Ideas I want challenge in the forum. I want debate. Why agree? Exceeded Expectations Extra Credit. This must be earned

### Expectations:

I will be adding a new forum every week starting with the second week. You are expected to:
• Visit each forum at least twice per week.
• Write a unique response to my question(s). Read everything I write before responding. I am very particular about what I expect in the forums. Do not take shortcuts.
• Reply thoughtfully a minimum of two times. Your replies must be thought-provoking and sincere.

### General Guidelines

• Each individual forum is open for only one week at a time.
• New forums open every Monday morning at 12:00am and close Sunday night at 11:55pm.
• I will drop your lowest Forum Grade for each marking period.
• Forums can be submitted to but will not be counted after they have closed.
• Missing forums cannot be made up in any way.

The grade I give you on each forum will depend on the quality of the work you produce. I don’t give specific sentence or word count requirements because that’s not the point of this exercise. The purpose of you visiting this forum is to share your ideas. Don’t belittle your classmates by lazily slopping down words to get this assignment done.

While you are only required to post a minimum of 3 times per forum, doing so does not guarantee that you’ll get an “A”. That is simply the minimum. See the rating scale to learn how to ensure an “A” on every forum every week.

***If you consistently get ratings at the top of this scale (the bottom 4 as shown above), you will get an “A” every week.

***If you get a rating at the bottom of this scale (the first 3 shown above), simply post more frequently to get your average up.

Then, I simply read and rate like a madman! At the end of the week, I export my gradebook to an excel file which gives me a ratings output that looks something like this:

0/1/2/0/0/0/1/0 (4)

This tells me that this student posted four times: s/he answered the question, replied to two students, and challenge someone! That is an "A"!

I have tried having students rate each other - doesn't give the same quality at the end of the semester. This rating system really does produce quality arguments.

Now, to bed!

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Thanks again to everyone that took part in this discussion.

I've added some of the information from this thread to the documentation wiki--just the basics that I found out from this discussion.

http://docs.moodle.org/en/Forum_module

Best,
A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

hi i'm a student in a ingeneer school and my project is about Moodle and gradind discussions!

i think that's it's a very intersting thing

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Yes, it is.

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

I've been using this rubric for several of my online courses--It covers forum activities and other 'community building' activities. Not sure how well it works for assessment per se, but it does articulate some values and guidelines early on.

One experiment that I've been doing is limiting the word count in some forums...e.g. reply in 100 words or less. Sort of 'twitter inspired' as well as a resolution to a few verbose students that I had. For topics that seem to lend themselves to big principles or guidelines, it works well....to paraphrase Shakespeare, Brevity is wit.

 Exemplary Satisfactory Below Forum posts Appropriately posts questions and answers to the discussion board that are relevant to assignments and topics; demonstrates concern for activities and learning of other students. Frequently posts questions and/or answers to the discussion board that are relevant to assignments and topics Seldom posts questions and/or answers to the discussion board that are relevant to assignments Collaborative Project Consistently demonstrates skills to take initiative as well as listen to and value work of classmates Generally demonstrates skills to take initiative as well as listen to and value work of classmates Lacks initiative or participation in groups or frequently monopolizes activities. Tone Consistently maintains positive and collegial tone in all communication Generally maintains collegial tone in all communication. Significant lapses in collegiality or politeness Course Procedures Submissions and communication consistently follow course directions Submissions and communication generally follow course directions Submissions and communication do not follow course directions (e.g. emailing assignment if instructed to post to forum or submit as assignment).

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Chris,

Your assessment rubrics is very interesting. Could I use it? If yes, please advise how I could cite this.

Thanks

Joseph

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Hi, everyone...

I very much appreciate the conversation regarding rubrics here. I think it's very important that we understand ahead of time what we're looking for both from students and from ourselves. I'd like to aim the conversation a little differently, however...

The way that Moodle 1.9 currently works, it is very difficult for me to enter a forum, pull up all the posts a single student made in that forum, and give a grade. I am already able to see posts in context, and I'm not saying that that isn't an important feature. But I would like to be able to collect the posts of a single student and rate them right then and there.

Currently, the only way to collect an individual student's posts is to use an advanced search that picks the student and the forum required. But that screen still doesn't allow grading - the rating options go away.

Also, I can't find a way to go directly to an advanced search. I have to enter a search term in the "search forums" field, and then if my search term doesn't show up at all, I get to see the advanced search area. If my search term does work, I have the ability to click an additional link to get to the advanced search area. Either way, the user field isn't pre-populated, which would also be a nice feature.

Am I the only one who finds this a bit clunky? I'm a huge fan of Moodle, and we are already well on our way to replacing our Blackboard install with it at our university, but I wish there was a better way to accomplish these tasks.

Any suggestions? Am I missing something?

Matt

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
Hi Matthew,

If I want to see all posts from an individual student, I go to the participants' list, click on the student and then on the tab 'forum posts' at the top. I use a template rubric in WordPerfect, finish the grading for the individual student and publish this to HTML. In a second window I have an offline assignment open. There I paste the HTML rubric for the individual student. I admit that it is not fast, but it helps me to combine a quantitative with a qualitative assessment.

With kind regards,

Hartmut

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions
With the current version, it's bound to be a 2-window solution. Matt, you're right that the Activity Report gives a really nice view of all posts in a forum. Why not have that in 1 window, and the grader report in another window, and assign a grade for the whole forum after reviewing?

A

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

I've done it that way before as well, but even with two windows, it still takes about five clicks to get from one student to the next - not exactly handy

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Re: Best Practices for grading discussions

Here's what I'm doing in Moodle 2.2:

Most of my course is based on projects. I'm teaching statistics, so each week my students have to construct a question they will answer with data, select the appropriate data, analyze it, and post the result with a supporting spreadsheet. My grades for this activity are as follows:

20 points for posting a well-formed question by mid-week

20 points for selecting appropriate data to answer the question, and posting this to the forum

20 points for posting suggestions or other substantive comments to peers on their projects

30 points for posting the final spreadsheet and interpretation.

This is a total of 90 points-- the other 10 points each week are calculated on the basis of a short objective quiz that the students can re-take as often as they like-- there is a large question pool and they get 10 questions at random.

So I've assigned a "rating" total of 90 to each weekly forum, and as I read through the forum each day, I assign ratings to posts that meet one of these criteria. Typically the posts to peers should be worth 10 points each, but sometimes I only grant 5 points if I thought the response was a bit weak. Students can see their own ratings, but not the ratings assigned to the posts of others. They can see the cumulative total in the Gradebook.

There are a couple of problems with this method. One is that students don't always understand which component of the assignment they've done well on. In particular, students don't understand that they lost a lot of points through not posting substantively in peer threads.

The other problem is that Moodle doesn't accurately track which posts I've already read, so sometimes I miss posts. I try to follow up with the "Recent Activity" block and report, but that involves right-clicking each post so I can read and rate it, and still be able to return to the list easily.

So what would help a great deal is:

1 - Allow more than one rating category, each to feed into its own gradebook column. Perhaps the rating function should be attached to the "Activity Completion" settings, or structured more like the "Restriction" settings, which are nicely flexible.

2 - Provide a means of viewing and rating all the posts by a specific person within a specific date range on one page. The selection logic would be like the current "Recent Activity" report, but would include the full text of the posts and the rating widget(s).

Someone may think to suggest that I could create a separate forum for each phase of the project, but I think that would really disrupt the learning process. It is much easier and more natural for the students to have the process taking place in a single forum, with each student "owning" a single thread.

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