Forums are an educational tool that allows for asynchronous discussions around your educational content. It’s one of the most powerful tools available to faculty to encourage student discussion and social presence.


Forums for community building

Dr. Peter Leong creates discussion forums to simulate the types of questions or social sharing that might come up in a face-to-face class.

Using video to prompt discussion

Dr. Rhonda Black uses video to get students thinking and to prompt discussion in her Forums.

Forum post titles to draw students in

In his EDEF 651 class, Dr Derek Taira has his students to write eye-catching titles for their posts to entice other students to click on and read them.

Titles from Course Assignment


No single rubric exists for grading forums, but the following examples provide some starting points with varying levels of complexity. Choose or develop a rubric for students that meets your instructional needs and the time you have available for feedback and grading.

Forums Criteria Rubric #1 (PDF) – Three rubrics published in peer-reviewed articles are available in this single PDF. The first is a 20 point scale rubric with 4 points each for promptness, quality of writing, relevancy of post, clarity of expression and student contribution to the community. While the second rubric consolidates many of the aforementioned topics it’s worth 4 points in total allowing for a more simplified grading process. The final rubric is a 5 point scale allowing for partial points that serves as a middle ground in between the first two examples in grading complexity.

Forums Criteria Rubric #2 (DOC) – This is a more robust rubric including not only a 10 point grading scale but also discussion board etiquette rules and instructions for students. This rubric contains many of the same criteria as the one above but in much more detail. It’s also generic enough to be dropped into just about any class.

Forums Criteria Rubric #3 (PDF) – This final rubric has no point allocations. Instead it identifies posts as being either excellent, acceptable to good or unacceptable. You can apply points to this structure as fits your instructional design. Additionally, instructions include a recommendation for students posting replies beyond the initial post.