Using Discussion Rubrics in Canvas to Improve Student Posts

Submitted by Peter Turner on

Using Canvas Discussions is a good way to use higher order thinking skills and improve communication as our students justify their answers and question others. In Fall 2013, all three of my hybrid classes had weekly discussions that enriched our content. However, the quality of the discussions was somewhat lacking. Mid semester, I instituted rubrics to help guide and measure their posts. For a 15 point discussion, the rubrics were as follows:

  • Evidenced and referenced the reading/assignment - 3 pts.
  • Thoroughly and completely addressed the prompt/answer - 5 pts.
  • Responded thoughtfully to at least three other posts - 3 pts.
  • Conventions: used appropriate mechanics, punctuation, spelling, grammar - 4 pts.

Discussion scores went from an average of 11-12 points (roughly 75%) the first half of the semester to an average of 13-14 points (about 90%) the second half after implementing the rubrics. As a result, I am continuing to use the rubrics this semester with similar results. It also makes for quick grading, with clear feedback for students!

Completed Full Cycle
Course Number
EDU221, 222, 230, 236
Average: 4.5 (6 votes)


Erik Huntsinger Mon, 02/17/2014 - 1:00pm

Pete, I too have struggled with the wide variety of quality of discussion board assignments in my class.  I like your clear and detailed rubric descriptions, and it certainly have paid off for for students in terms of their grade.  I will need to learn from you how to incorporate rubrics into Canvas' discussion assignments.

Heather Muns Tue, 02/18/2014 - 11:30am

I too have found that rubrics help with the discussion board.  Once students figure out that they are actually being graded on that "rubric stuff," students begin to include all the components and do better.  

Gary Kilduff Tue, 02/18/2014 - 1:56pm


I too am a believer in providing direction on Discussion Board postings through creation of rubric elements. Thanks for the reminder. 

Kathryn French Sat, 09/13/2014 - 11:15am

This sounds like a terrific way to give students guidelines on the assignment as well as give students immediate feedback on their postings.

Kristine McCullough Mon, 01/07/2019 - 10:42am

I know that this is an old discussion, but I really like this type of rubric over the one I have been using, mine is farly basic in nature which seems to work as well.  

Thank you for posting.