Evaluating Online Discussions
Written by: Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D.
Published On: March 8, 2014
Discussions in class and online are not the same. When a comment is keyed in, more time can be involved in deciding what will be said. Online comments have more permanence. They can be read more than once and responded to more specifically. Online commentary isn’t delivered orally and evokes fewer of the fears associated with speaking in public. These features begin the list of what makes online discussions different. These different features also have implications for how online exchanges are assessed. What evaluation criteria are appropriate?
Two researchers offer data helpful in answering the assessment question. They decided to take a look at a collection of rubrics being used to assess online discussions. They analyzed 50 rubrics they found online by using various search engines and keywords. All the rubrics in this sample were developed to assess online discussions in higher education, and they did so with 153 different performance criteria. Based on a keyword analysis, the researchers grouped this collection into four major categories. Each is briefly discussed here.