Learners will...
  1. understand the importance of active discussion participation
  2. understand the requirements of the discussion aspect of online courses at UTTC

Discussion is a Great Learning Opportunity!

Discussion in online courses is where much of the learning happens. We understand that you learn from the instructor comments and from the learning materials provided. However, it is the perspectives of the members of the learning group that provide a rich opportunity for our own assumptions to be challenged. Everyone in the class, including the instructor, grows intellectually and personally through discussion. Each of us has been formed by our own experiences and by the people we have around us. In an online classroom, you may have coursemates from around the country. It is a wonderful opportunity to gain a new perspective on the concepts discussed.

Online Discussion Assessment

A key component of an online course is the discussion forum. Conversation is integral to the learning process. It is how learners share knowledge and how instructors facilitate learning. Since online learners have limited opportunities to converse with their course mates, the discussion becomes the most effective and efficient way to communicate. United Tribes Technical College maintains high academic standards both in the ground-based classroom and the online classroom. Therefore, certain expectations exist for the online discussion room and learners are evaluated based upon how well they meet these expectations.

First each learner is required to answer each discussion question posed by the instructor in a timely manner. Typically, a learner will have one week within which to respond from the time it is posted by the instructor.

Second, the response should be directly related to the question posed and thoughtful in nature. It should include a rationale for the answer.  Consider the following example: In your opinion, is the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment?

A weak answer might be:

  • I think that anybody who kills somebody else should die.

A stronger answer might be:

  • I don’t think that the death penalty is cruel and unusual, especially if the murder is vicious. According to the textbook, prisons to house people who are serving life sentences spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money each year. Look at Charles Manson and his henchmen. Charles Manson has his own cell and gets three square meals per day. He has it better than many of our law-abiding citizens. I don’t want to come off as cold-hearted, but enough is enough.

An even stronger answer would include information about statistics and refer to the textbook for relevant information.

Third, each response should be respectful of the other learners. It is OK to disagree with your course mates or your instructor. It is not OK to put others down for their opinions or ideas. The online discussion room is similar to the face-to-face classroom discussion, only it happens asynchronously. In other words, the learners do not all have to be in the same place at the same time.

Finally, each learner is required to respond to at least one other learner’s response for each question posed. Your instructor may require more. Check the syllabus and the instructor’s information. This is how we encourage communication among learners. Just like the response to the instructor’s question, your response to other learners should be thoughtfully composed. It is not enough to agree or disagree. Provide some explanation for why you agree or disagree.


If you go into the Collaboration section and click on the Open Discussion, you will see some comments from your instructor. Below is the rubric that outlines how you are graded on your discussions:


You will be assessed on the discussion forum using the rubric below

Online Discussion Assessment Instrument

Performance Criteria

Exemplary Performance


High Quality Performance


Adequate Performance


Improvement Needed






Consistently addresses the issues raised in the discussion room. Conveys extensive evidence of a personal perspective to the issues raised.

Addresses the issues raised in the discussion room most of the time. Conveys some evidence of a personal perspective.

Addresses the issues raised in the discussion room some of the time with a limited personal perspective.

Writes comments in the discussion room, but does not address the questions posed.

Does not attempt to address the questions posed.



Responds reflectively to the content of other learners’ comments.

Responds to the content of other learner’s comments.

Provides minimal reflection on the comments of others.

Enters a comment that does not apply to the discussion.

Does not attempt to respond to other learners’ comments.



Clearly expresses arguments, opinions, and responses connected to the content area. Consistently provides a rationale for the response.

Expresses arguments, opinion, and responses connected to the content area. Occasionally provides a rationale for the response.

Seldom provides arguments, opinion, or responses connected to the content area. Rarely provides a rationale for the response.

Opinions, arguments, and responses are not connected to the content area and no rationale is provided for the response.

Does not attempt to justify own responses.



Provides 90% - 100% of the required responses.

Provides 80% - 89% of the required responses.

Provides 70% to 79% of the required responses.

Provides 60% to 69% of the required responses.

Provides less than 60% of the required responses.



Writes using classroom etiquette. Message is conveyed clearly and intelligibly.

Writes with classroom etiquette, but message is sometimes unclear.

Writing sometimes lacks tact or is often unclear.

Writing frequently lacks tact and is often unclear.

Leaner does not provide comments in the online course discussion area.


Overall Score:



Grade Equivalent:




©United Tribes Technical College, developed by UTTC faculty members, December 2001.

Discussion Question 1

Think about the requirements for discussion. Are you ready to share your own perspectives? Are you willing to share your perspectives? How will you react if someone disagrees with you?