What is Forum Assessment?

 

The Moodle Forum activity is a tool for communication and collaboration that allows learners and educators to exchange ideas by posting comments in a thread. Forums can be a great way to create a sense of community and to get students to interact with each other, share ideas and drive a discussion online. Above is an example of a Moodle Forum - click on the purple question marks for an explanation of some forum features.

The Teacher can set up the forum, with one of the following options recommended for assessment:

  • A Standard forum for general use - to use for 'open discussions'
  • A Question and Answer forum (Q & A forum) - to use when you would like students to post before seeing other responses.

Once set up, a forum can be used as an assessment tool in a number of ways:

  • Reflection
  • Small group discussion
  • Role play discussion
  • Case study
  • Question and answer
  • Peer assessment
  • Quick, positive and constructive feedback

On the forum students can:

  • See the following information so that instructions are clear:
    • Due date
    • Completion criteria (e.g to start one discussion)
    • Any other written instructions provided by the teacher
  • Start discussions and respond to others
  • Add files (images, videos, or other) as specified in the settings by the teacher
  • See replies from others

They can also do the following depending on the settings of the teacher:

  • Subscribe to individual discussions
  • Rate each other's posts

 

Why are Moodle Forums useful for assessment?

Forums allow for a shared space where students may have discussions with each other, answer questions related to the content and engage with one another to foster collaboration and peer to peer interaction. Forums give students the ability to compare answers with their peers, answer each other's questions, providing transparency for students. You can also monitor forums for common misconceptions.

With this in mind, Moodle Forums is recommended for formative assessment. The forum settings allow for individual reflections, small group discussions, and the presentation of findings (group or individual) on a case study. The forum space lends itself to a range of applications, all of which allow the teacher to assess contributions, replies, analysis and depth of understanding of a concept, task or question.

Forums may be used as a non-graded activity type to encourage discussion or may also be graded based on a number of criteria or marking rubric. Forums can also be graded on student participation and engagement.

 

What do Moodle Forums for assessment involve?

Creating a ‘Moodle Forum’ activity for assessment involves:

  1. Deciding what the purpose of the forum is: facilitating a flipped classroom, to motivate students, or to gauge the understanding of individuals, for example.
  2. Adding the activity to Moodle and configuring the settings.
  3. Deciding how you will evaluate and grade contributions to the forum.
  4. Sharing the activity with your students so they can start contributing.

Themes

  • Online learning
  • Interactive learning
  • Formative Assessment

Guidance

Tools for asynchronous learning

Facilitating assessment with Moodle Forums

Which forum do I need?

Bath Blend Baseline

Contacts

For advice on using the Forum activity in Moodle to enhance learning, teaching and assessment contact the TEL team: tel@bath.ac.uk

 

How do I set up a Moodle Forum for Assessment?

Please watch the video below to learn how to set up a Moodle Forum to use for Formative Assessment:

FAQs

There are 5 forum types:

  • A single simple discussion – A single discussion topic which everyone can reply to (cannot be used with separate groups)
  • Each person posts one discussion – Each student can post exactly one new discussion topic, which everyone can then reply to
  • Q and A forum – Students must first post their perspectives before viewing other students’ posts
  • Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format – An open forum where anyone can start a new discussion at any time, and in which discussion topics are displayed on one page with “Discuss this topic” links
  • Standard forum for general use – An open forum where anyone can start a new discussion at any time

You can read about forum types here: Using Forum – MoodleDocs.

Teachers can view a summary of student participation. The report can be accessed by clicking on the settings cog from within a forum activity and clicking on ‘Forum summary report’. From the overview you can see the following information:

  • Number of discussions posted
  • Number of replies posted
  • Number of attachments
  • Number of views
  • Word and character count
  • Earliest and most recent post

From here you can also export the report for individual students or the whole cohort as a csv file.

Forums may be teacher graded based on a number of criteria within a marking guide or a rubric. Students can also be graded on their participation and engagement. Think of using a blend of both of these things to ensure students are equitably assessed. The video above on Moodle Forum Assessment demonstrates how to create and use a marking guide from 3:25.

Yes, you can use the rating option to facilitate peer assessment. When setting up the forum, decide whether you will have students rate each other’s posts and what criteria should students use to rate. By default, the ratings option is turned off in Moodle for students. Therefore, if you want students to be able to rate each other’s posts, you would need to provide them with access. You can find more information on ratings on this Moodle guidance page: Forum settings – MoodleDocs.

Alternatively, consider having a peer evaluation component to an assessment task. The forum itself does not have to be the assessment, but it can become a tool for peer evaluation where students share their work in the forum and have other students assess the work based on set criteria.

It is recommended that you provide students with constructive feedback to improve their responses, whether it be on the content or on the quality of the writing. This is especially important if you are having students provide answers to questions or on a self-reflection assessment. You can reply directly in the forum to add comments, constructive suggestions, prompts and questions. Or, if you are using a Marking Guide, you could provide written feedback on relevant assessment criteria within the comment box (see image below – written feedback can be added in the ‘Additional comments’ boxes).

Marking guide screenshot
Marking guide screenshot

Yes, they can click on ‘Reply’ to comment on a forum post. This will always be an available option, unless the Teacher has decided to ‘Lock’ a particular thread.

Yes, participants can upload files within their forum posts as long as this hasn’t been disabled in the forum settings. If this is an expectation, Teachers should clarify what students could include in their posts within the forum activity instructions. Students can upload word documents, PDFs, images and other types of files as set by the Teacher in the settings, but for all of these there is a 50MB upload limit in line with all Moodle file uploads.