Week 4 -Create Clear Guidelines and Expectations


  1. Create your guidelines below with clear expectations about online discussion requirements, deadlines, and grading procedures.
  2. Create your discussion rubric. Rubrics must have at least two levels of performance and two criteria.
  3. Create your commenting rubric. Rubrics must have at least two levels of performance and two criteria.

Factors for Successful Online Discussions

Online discussions have different formats and can be effective in various ways..When instructors begin to plan their online discussions, research suggests a number of matters that must be taken into consideration in order for the discussion to be effective and successful.

Clear Directions

One thing that an instructor must make sure to do is provide the students with directions for online discussions that are simple, to the point, and do not cause any confusion among the learners (Rose & Smith, 2007). It should be made clear whether the discussion will be synchronous or asynchronous. If it is a synchronous discussion, the students will need to know where and when to meet, and if it is asynchronous, the students need to know if they must meet a deadline for responding to the questions posted.

Instructor Feedback

Not only are clear directions necessary, but also needed is feedback from instructors (Rose, et al., 2007). It is not enough for an instructor to give an assignment. The students need to know whether or not they are addressing the issue in enough depth, if their understanding of the issue is correct, or if students need clarification about something, an instructor needs to be able to shed light on the subject.

Promoting Motivation

Students should be motivated to contribute to the discussions (Rose, et al., 2007). There are different ways that this can be accomplished. To start with, at the very beginning of a course, an instructor can find out what interests the students, and if possible, tie in their interests to the discussion and issue being presented. The instructor also needs to address how students will be assessed on their participation in discussions. If an instructor does not include this as part of the final grade, it may be very difficult to motivate students to partake in the discussion.

Some students may not participate at all and other students may participate but give shallow and short responses instead of providing in depth reflective responses that bring together their experiences with the material. It is not enough to inform students that they will be graded on their participation in the discussions, but the students must know how they will be graded. There should be specific guidelines and rubrics that explain all of the assessment techniques that the instructor will use (Black, 2005).

Table 1 shows an example of what a rubric may look like, and there may be other criteria that an instructor wants to include when assessing a student. The criteria listed in Table 1 may be broken down into further categories, but ultimately, it is up to the instructor to decide how to assess the discussion.

Table 1. Sample Rubric

Criteria: Excellent (5) Acceptable (3) Poor (1) Total
Meeting the deadline The student made the required posts by the deadline set. The student made some of the required posts by the deadline set. The student did not post by the required deadline set.
Quality of work The student has clearly thought about the material and has raised interesting solutions and/or problems. The student has written about the material, but has not offered information that was not already given in the text. The student has not reflected on the material, or the post made is irrelevant to the topic.
Mechanics The post made does not contain grammatical or spelling errors. The post made contains very few grammatical and/or spelling errors. The post made contains several grammatical and/or spelling errors and is difficult to understand.


In addition to these factors, setting the students with the correct expectations is essential. Roper (2007) explains that “Instructors who establish clear expectations as to how threaded discussions are used or who ask specific questions in response to student postings can expect to encourage richer online dialogue” (p.64). The students need to be aware of what is appropriate for them to post. Some questions that may come up include: Will it be acceptable to make comments that encourage others, or should that be left to the instructor? Are students encouraged to disagree with their colleagues on a certain issue, and if so, how does this have to be handled?


The way that the discussion is organized plays an important role in the development process. One suggestion is to keep threaded discussions similar to an outline, “with each topic…given its own thread, separate from other conversations” (Rose, et al., 2007, p.147). This helps students find the information that they are searching for, and when students need to return to the thread, they will know where to search for what they are looking for. It is much easier for students to retrieve this information, and it may also be wise to have students create different subjects for their posts for the same reason. This will help students create summaries of their discussions and help them remember the content better.

Question Type

Finally, the type of question that is posted in an online discussion will to a great extent, help determine whether or not there will be student participation. There should be a variety of questions asked (Akin & Neil, 2007). Some questions may ask for students to give their opinion or to relate their experiences with the issue being discussed (Akin, et al., 2007). Other questions may have students evaluate their own work or the work of others (Akin, et al., 2007). Students may be asked to take a side on the issue being discussed and explain their reason for their decision while trying to convince others to see their point of view (Akin, et al., 2007). Another take on this would be to have the students write the questions and have their colleagues respond to them (Akin, et al., 2007). This should be done with the guidance of the instructor to make sure that the students have correctly understood the material and that the objectives of the lesson are being met.

In conclusion, it is imperative to include online discussions in distance education courses, and they can also be incorporated into traditional classrooms. They provide students with several advantages and allow for students to communicate and interact. With the proper development of online discussions students can enjoy having a positive learning experience.

From : The Effectiveness and Development of Online Discussions (References Included)

Clear Guidelines and Expectations

The quality of participation in online discussion forums is not dependent on the type of students you have in the course. Good discussions are directly related to what is articulated by the instructor and the discussion model they create.  Therefore it is critical to design and structure discussions with guidelines or “rules of the road” .

Guidelines for Posting

The most important thing to remember is that the initial “discussion” question is only the beginning of the process. A discussion doesn’t develop until learners post their initial responses and you and the learners begin to exchange responses and reactions. The design of the discussion assignments must reflect and stress scholarly discussion among all participants (including yourself).

It is very important to structure your online discussion forum activities carefully. Learners need to have very clear guidelines for posting material, how often to comment, length of comment, and what information to include in the comments. You will get out of discussions what you articulate and model. You should set expectations on participation, grade both participation and the quality of participation, and provide rubrics that give students the standards by which they will be judged.


Provide guidelines for posting material and participation.

  1. How often to comment.
  2. Length of comment.
  3. What information to include in the comments.

Example for posting and replying to others

In this workshop each week you will be participating in synchronous discussions using the Laulima Forums tool.

Each weekly discussion runs from 12:01 AM Monday through 11:59 pm on the following Sunday (7 days). Each week you will be asked to post a response to each discussion topic and and comment on two other learners initial posts for each topic.

Weekly discussion post and rubric

Post a thoughtful, unique response to the forum question in approximately 250 words or less (your answer should not be the same as someone who has already posted). You will be graded on the quality of your responses–not quantity. Be thoughtful rather than verbose. Before you begin, please look at the discussion post Rubric. Your initial post is due by midnight Thursday. Each participant will be graded on an individual basis (max score is 20)

Weekly comments to other learners and rubric

Post 2 replies to other learners posts. Before you comment, please carefully read how comments are graded.

Comment Rubric

How does your comment contribute in meaningful ways to further make sense of what the artifact is presenting? Your comment adds insight, OR Your comment is a question that proposes answers. Be thoughtful rather than verbose. Replies are due midnight Sunday. Each student will be graded on an individual basis (max score is 5 for each comment)

Guidelines for Discussion Board Writing

Guideline Examples

Example Rubrics

Criteria for Quality of Participation

  • Clarification and critical assessment
    • Observing and studying a problem and then defining one’s opinion about the problem with unambiguous, clear statements so that all can understand why this information should be accepted (Henri, 1992). In addition, advanced students should be able to criticality assess and analyze their own or other’s contributions to show that the participants have exercised their analytic skills (Henri 1992; Newman et al., 1996).
  •  Justification or judgment
    • Making decisions by providing proof so that the validity of information is assured (Henri, 1992; Newman et al., 1996; Garrison et al., 2001).
  • Inferencing or interpretation
    • Admitting or proposing something on the basis of a proposition which is already proven as true (Henri, 1992: Newman et al., 1996; Garrison et al., 2001).
  • Application of knowledge (Relevance):
    • Discuss the application of knowledge for solution or making a decision to show that the participants can use their knowledge in different contexts (Henri 1992; Newman et al., 1996).
  • Prioritization of key knowledge
    • Giving more emphasis on the important issues on the topic of discussion to show that participants can understand the focal issues in any problem (Newman et al., 1996).
  • Breadth of knowledge
    • Widening the discussion by bringing out new insights from the readings which represent the participants’ ability to analyze and raise issues (Henri, 1992; Newman et al., 1996; Garrison et al., 2001).
  •  Critical discussions of contributions
    • Students should be able to constructively and criticality assess and analyze their own or other’s contribution to show that the participants have exercised their analytic skills (Henri 1992; Newman et al., 1996).
  • New ideas/Solutions
    • Proposing and advancing new ideas or solutions into discussion to represent the participants’ ability to provide solutions (Newman et al., 1996).
  •  Sharing outside knowledge
    • Students should also be able to draw on personal experiences or knowledge and relate these to the texts or lecture notes. This represent the participants’ ability to relate to real world situations with current study (Newman et al., 1996).
  • Use of social cues or emotions
    • The use of informal messages and greetings to see if other participants are enjoying the online conversation or not. Postings may also be used to encourage others to respond and to further discussion. (Henri, 1992). 11) Participation rate The total number and the frequency of postings to see if the participants are consistent or not (Henri, 1992)

Rubric for assessing quality in online discussion forums

Facilitators can use the following rubric as a way to assess learners’ online contributions; while students may use it a way to understand what is expected of them as participants in online discussion forums.

.rubric quality discussion

Earn Your Badge

Step 3- Create Clear Guidelines and Expectations
  1. Login to UH Google Drive
  2. Make a Copy of> Step 3 Discussion Guidelines and Rubrics
  3. Insert your name in the title in the upper left corner. discussion-name-doc
  4. Create your guidelines with clear expectations about online discussion requirements, deadlines, and grading procedures.
  5. By the end of Thursday (recommended to have content & get the comments started) share your document and enable commenting  (see the directions below) post it in HERE in the Google+ Community
  6. In the  Google+ Community, comment ON two other Google Doc worksheets, by the end of Sunday. Provide further insight into to the participant’s results. Practice improving your online interaction with insightful commenting.

How to share your Google Doc  with comments

  1. Open your google document and click share in upper right corner.


  1. In share with others click on “Get shareable link”.

get sharaeable link

  1.  Choose anyone at the University of Hawaii with the link can comment.

share with comments

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