Designing for Quality Discussions with Participation Guidelines


When designing your online course, it important to incorporate clear, consistent guidelines for participation activities. These guidelines might include:

  • Your criteria for effective student participation so they understand what is expected of them
  • How participation will be evaluated
  • Minimum word counts, number of posts and peer replies
  • Expectations for citation use
  • Quality guidelines including requirements for depth of analysis, critical thinking, and other encouragements to stimulate further thought in discussion

In the short video below, Tracy Schaelen walks you through an example of how to provide guidelines and criteria for online discussions.

Posted in Articles, Course Design Showcase, Rubric Section B, Rubric Section C.

Tracy Schaelen is the Distance Education Faculty Coordinator at Southwestern College and a lead course reviewer for the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative.


  1. With Tracy’s explanation of the rubric I understand it a little better. Once I understand the rubric grading I think it is an item that I would use to grade dtudents.

  2. I love the detail that Tracy provided! She did not skip a beat! She was clear in her expectations and what she was asking from her students. I really liked the detailed Grading Rubric. She also provided options for the student as to how/where they can gain access for an explanation on the ‘How to’s.” Thank you for this!

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