For or against grading discussion boards on spelling and grammar?

One of the things going on at IVS these days is an interesting debate on a more universal rubric for grading discussion boards with a focus on Common Core Standards (groan).

Common Core Standards

So what makes a good quality discussion?  Well personally, I tend to focus on content and thought. However,  there are those who, because online learning is a written medium, feel that grammar and spelling rules must be enforced.

Discussion Icon

I cannot in good conscious agree (typo intended).  First, discussion is IMHO intended to be off the cuff and have flow, much the way verbal discussion does in a classroom.  I would not correct my student’s mental spelling if we spoke out loud.  Nor would I address grammar issues unless they led to a misunderstanding of meaning.

  •  For example, does it matter that my students from central Illinois will always say, “this is where we are AT?” The colloquialism aside, I do understand their meaning.  So is it germane to the discussion that at is an improper way to end a sentence.  Should I stifle their explanation in favor of the grammar lesson?

I wouldn’t in a brick-and-mortar verbal environment.  So for myself I also wouldn’t in an online one.  Furthermore there is evidence that typos are natural due to the nuances of the English language and our brains natural interpretation abilities. There is an interesting article on why we miss our own typos so often.  So there is even evidence that in informal thought, mistyping are to be expected-even if you proofread.

An Illusion that Explains Why Typos Are So Hard to Catch.

Now, keep in mind, I am not saying that students should abstain from proper grammar and spelling.  I am saying that I consider discussion boards a form of informal communication and therefore do not wish to apply formal communication rules.  Have mercy on the soul of a student who turned in a paper without proper editing etiquette!

Side note-I have not received a paper in three years, nor do I grade papers, and yet the term persists in my head.  I receive electronic documents all the time, but paper?  That stuff they used to make from trees?  Nay, none of that 🙂

I do certainly apply the rules of mechanics to papers, reports, powerpoints, etc.  I just can’t do it in discussions.

How do you feel?

BTW-I caught a few typos while writing this blog post, but I probably did not catch them all.


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