Grading Moodle Discussion Forums


Summary:  Discussion forums are the main conversational tool built into Moodle for asynchronous classroom discussion.  The following are some of the common ways that you can evaluate your student's work in Moodle Forums.


Option 1: Use Ratings: Ratings allows the instructor to provide an integer score for each post.   To activate ratings in the forum settings you need to set the following two components in the forum settings:


Aggregate type:

  1. Average of ratings - The mean of all ratings
  2. Count of ratings - The number of rated items becomes the final grade. The total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.
  3. Maximum - The highest rating becomes the final grade
  4. Minimum - The smallest rating becomes the final grade
  5. Sum - All ratings are added together. The total cannot exceed the maximum grade for the activity.


        Setting any scale adds the discussion to the gradebook.  We recommend using Point. Then for grading you enter the discussion and you will find a ratings box for each post by each student.  You simply select an integer value and that appears in the gradebook.


Option 2: Manually add an item to the gradebook.

This option allows you to enter grades directly into the gradebook  (in one window or tab) while you read discussion posts (in another window or tab). The advantage is that you can use decimal grades (8.5) as opposed to integer grades (8 or 9).  The disadvantage is that you must work in two windows.

Step 1: Add the discussion to your Grade book

Step 2: Open your grader report window

Step 3: Open your forum posts: Open a new window or tab in your browser with the discussion post that requires grading. One easy way to do this is to right-click (Mac – control-click) on your course ID in the breadcrumbs at the top left of your page (in the example below MOO301) and select Open page in new tab or window. 

Step 4: Grade the forum and enter grades
Once you have your new window open, resize the two windows so that they are side by side, or leave the windows full size if you open the two windows in tabs and just click back and forth between the two tabs of the discussion forum and the gradebook as you read and enter grades in the grade item created in Step 1 above.  Simply click in a grade cell and enter a grade value and a comment.


Helpful Hint: Accessing all of one students posts: THREE OPTIONS

OPTION 1: Manual item in the Grader Report:
If you wish to view all of one student’s posts, say for grading using one of the above methods other than ratings, you can do that via the following steps:

  1. Open either the Grades > Grader Report or People/Participants
  2. Right-click on each participant’s name and open each persons profile in a new tab or window (this way you can easily close the tab or window and immediately move on to the next student without waiting to reload the participant list).  You can also open several participants at once in their own tab.
  3. On the profile page for each participant, click the “Forum Posts” link in the “Miscellaneous” area (shows all posts including replies) or Discussions (shows all “threads” initiated by the student, excluding replies). 


OPTION 2: Accessing all of one student's posts using the Search Forums Block.

1. On your course home page turn editing on and in the Add a block, block on the lower right add the Search Forums Block.

2. In the Search Forums Block click on Advanced Search.


3. Select the Forum you wish to search and then enter the student's name in the author slot.


4. Once done with one student just click the browser back button to move to the next student by typing the next student's name.  Enter grades as you do this in your offline feedback assignment in another window or tab.


OPTION 3: Use a rubric in an Offline assignment.  If you wish to use the new rubric feature in Moodle 2 to grade a discussion you will need to add in addition to your forum an “offline assignment”.  I usually keep these hidden until grading is completed, but also place the rubric in the syllabus so that the learners know the expectations and can view the rubric prior to completing the forum.  Below is a sample discussion rubric.  This option requires that you have a window or tab open with the discussion and a window or tab open with the “offline assignment” grading window.


Sample discussion rubric