Tracking Discussion Activity by Student

There are a number of ways to make sure your students are on par with their level of activity/interaction in your course. This article will highlight two ways you can monitor Discussion Board activity levels.

I should point out that this post is about tracking activity – quantitatively. If you’ve tried using the discussion tool and found it to be less than engaging for students or find a “quality of work” issue, you’re not alone. We see really effective discussion forum conversations, and ones that…could use some life. Consider the following:


  • Ask us what we’ve seen work for other courses
  • Check out this article on designing effective discussions
  • Check out this article on creating flexible and reflective discussions
  • Check out this article on best practices for the use of interactive tools in Blackboard
  • Search this site for other articles on the topic of engagement, motivation, or expectations.

Here are two ways you can monitor discussion activity:

1. Performance Dashboard, per Student

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Evaluation section and click Performance Dashboard.
  2. On the Performance Dashboard page, you can view how many forums a user posted in. In the Discussion Board column, click a numbered link to view details.

  3. On the Discussion Board page, you can view the following information:

    To sort a column, click the column heading.

    • Forum: Lists all the forums a user has posted in.
    • Total Posts: Click the link to access a page displaying a user’s posts in that forum.
    • Date of Last Post: View when a user last accessed the forum.
    • Average Post Length: Lists the average post length, in number of characters.
    • Minimum Post Length: Lists the minimum post length, in number of characters.
    • Maximum Post Length: Lists the maximum post length, in number of characters.
    • Average Post Position: View a representation of a user’s participation within the threads.
    • Grade: Click the link in the column to access the Grade Center column, if a grade appears.
  4. On the action bar, click Email User.
  5. In the Forum column, click a forum title to access a collection page displaying all a user’s posts in that forum.


2. Setup Grading, Collect Posts per Student

By setting up your discussion forum to be graded, you are able to indicate the required number of posts (per student) before that cell in your Grade Center shows a status of “needs grading.” Even if you don’t intend to assess students’ on their forum participation, this can be setup so that you receive a visual indicator of who has submitted the minimum number of posts, per your directions.

However, the grading workflow allows you to “collect” each user’s posts on a single screen. In this example, you can see that student Tony Brown has submitted three posts to this forum and they are all displayed together:

inline grading of discussion board sample


Click here for instructions on setting up a discussion forum to be graded.