Assessing online discussions and forums

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Cameron, L 2009, 'Assessing online discussions and forums', in L Cameron & J Dalziel (eds.), Proceedings of the 2009 European LAMS & Learning Design Conference, Milton Keynes, UK, 6-9 July, LAMS Foundation, Sydney, NSW, pp. 66-73. ISBN 9781741383188

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Peer Reviewed



Tutors from the School of Education have been using face-to-face discussions in tutorials to discuss the set course readings. Often when the tutorial discussion began, it became obvious that the students had either not done the required readings or had given them a cursory read at best. Obviously this had a devastating effect on the quality of the ensuing discussion. However, it became clear upon marking their final examination papers, that the students could read these articles without difficulty understand their messages and effectively engage with them – if a mark was attached. Therefore, it was decided to trial assessing the classroom discussions. The students would then have the benefit of this knowledge throughout the course which would enhance their understanding of course lectures and the quality of their other assignments. The logistical problems of conducting meaningful and objective assessment of students’ tutorial discussions were substantial until it was discovered that LAMS online Chat and Forum retained all previous history. A trial was begun in which students undertook a number of their tutorial discussions online in class. The significant improvement in the students’ engagement with the texts has ensured the discussions will continue to be included in the program. This presentation will outline the techniques employed by the tutors when they used online in class discussions to formally assess their students.