Discussion Rubrics

Discussion rubrics can help students by laying out expectations for preparation (content, evidence, analysis, degree of depth) as well as what is considered good participation. Rubrics can be used  to guide preparation and participation, but also to self-assess, peer-assess, or instructor-assess a student's performance. They can be used in small groups, or in a fish-bowl type discussion where one student is responsible for assessing or giving feedback to one other student (see Fishbowl). 

The following sample rubrics provide components instructors could use in their own rubrics:

Sample 1: Small Group Discussion Rubric (can be peer evaluation)

Evaluator:_______________                
Person being evaluated: _______________

Excellent (A range):
• regular participant in group discussion but does not dominate discussion
• listens attentively to others and responds respectfully; does not talk while others are talking 
• invites other students to participate effectively
• offers relevant, insightful and constructive comments
• always stays on topic
• extremely well-prepared with notes, written answers to questions to help fuel the discussion

Very Good (B range)
• regular participant in group discussion but does not dominate either 
• listens to others and responds respectfully; does not talk while others are talking 

• offers helpful comments during discussion 
• Always stays on topic
• well-prepared with notes, written answers to questions to help fuel the discussion

Satisfactory (C range)
• participates in discussion but sometimes dominates group discussion 
• listens to others, but may not always be respectful or considerate; often talks while others are talking 
• offers some helpful comments discussion
• usually stays on topic
• adequately prepared with notes, written answers to questions to help fuel the discussion

Unsatisfactory (D/F range)
• does not participate in class /group discussion or regularly dominates these discussions 
• few, if any, helpful comments 
• often off-task and/or leads group off-topic

• does not seem to have adequate notes/written answers to adequately engage in the discussion

How can this person improve? Write comments on back of this page.


Sample 2: 
Graded Discussion Rubric (instructor evaluates)

Knowledge and Understanding
Excellent (A): Presents accurate information and insightful ideas about the thoughts and feelings expressed in the text. 
Good (B): Presents accurate information and complete ideas about the thoughts and feelings expressed in the text.
Adequate (C): Presents some accurate information and some ideas about the thoughts and feelings expressed in the text.

Marginal (D): Presents incomplete and/or inaccurate information and ideas about the thoughts and feelings expressed in the text.

Interpretation and Analysis
Excellent (A): Expresses ideas and arguments that are effectively supported by relevant evidence or reasons 
Good (B): Expresses good ideas and arguments that are supported by relevant evidence or reasons 
Adequate (C): Expresses some ideas and arguments supported by some relevant evidence or reasons 
Marginal (D): Contribution is mainly summary, not ideas supported by relevant evidence or reasons

Organization and Preparation
Excellent (A):
Clearly focused and well-developed point; in-depth preparation for discussion - excellent notes; prepared to answer questions thoughtfully with detail/substance
Good (B):
Mostly focused and developed point; prepared for discussion - good notes; prepared to answer questions thoughtfully
Adequate (C):
Somewhat focused and developed points; Some preparation for discussion - has made a few notes; prepared to answer some questions when called upon
Marginal (D):
Little sense of any focused or developed points; little preparation for discussion - little to no notes; unprepared to answer questions thoughtfully with detail or substance

Communication and Participation
Excellent (A):
Meaning and intent are clear and engaging; shows a genuine desire to learn and share ideas; initiates discussion; acts as an effective leader; takes intellectual risks; listens actively; respects and supports others
Good (B): 
Meaning and intent are clear; willingly shares thoughtful ideas; participates in discussion frequently; volunteers opinions and ideas; listens and respects others
Adequate (C): 
Meaning and intent are sometimes unclear; reluctant to take risks, but contributes regularly; does little to move the discussion forward; generally listens and respects others
Marginal (D): 
Meaning and intent are frequently unclear; rarely participates in discussion; does not attempt to move the discussion forward; displays poor listening skills and is disrespectful of others


Sample 3: "Fishbowl" Discussion Feedback Form (can be peer evaluation)

“Fishbowl” discussion observation   Observer:_________________________ Speaker___________________________
How often did your participant contribute to the discussion?
Did your participant paraphrase an idea or cite evidence from the text? Describe:
Did your participant build on anyone else’s comment? Describe:
Did your participant bring anyone else into the discussion? Describe:
Was your participant engaged and attentive (looking at people as they speak, not slouching, etc.)? Describe: