Become an Innovative Online Nurse Educator

Using Discussion Board Ratings to Enhance Student Engagement

Sep 21, 2021

I was teaching a Preparation for Teaching Online workshop this Summer and I got a question from a participant about using the ratings option in the course Discussion Board for students to rate each others postings. I thought this was a pretty good technique to use to help increase student engagement and thought this would be a great topic for today's blog post.

I want to start off by saying that this technique might be controversial because of issues such as giving students poor ratings, so such a strategy should be used with caution and very clear instructions to students. 

When I use the rating option in my Learning Management System (LMS) which is Blackboard, I only use it with certain assignments and I instruct students on how to use the rating system. Here are some ideas I would recommend:

  • Debate assignments: If you use debate assignments in your course, you might consider having students use the rating system to cast votes for either side.
  • Rating versus response: I typically have students make at least one response to a colleague for each Discussion Board assignment. However, once in a while, I might ask them to make at least one response and then make at least 3 ratings on posts that they liked. They are instructed to only rate posts with at least a 4 or 5 star rating (available ratings are 1-5 stars).
  • Assignment feedback: Similar to the previous suggestions, another way to use the rating system is to have students rate each other's assignments, projects or presentations. I often have students make group or individual presentations. Since it is an asynchronous class, I can't guarantee that all the students watch each others' presentations. While they do have to leave a comment on one or two other presentations, with the rating system, I could ask them to leave a rating on many more presentations. Again, I might ask students to only rate those presentations they believe are a 4 or 5. 

How to use the rating system in Blackboard

In case you're unsure of how to "turn on" ratings for posts, you can follow these instructions:

  • Open the discussion board
  • Select all the posts you want to use the rating option on
  • Choose "Collect"
  • Sort by "Overall Rating"

What are some ideas you have to help engage your students in Discussion Board postings? Share your ideas in The Online Educator Facebook Group.

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