An algorithm and a tool for the automatic grading of MOOC learners from their contributions in the discussion forum Articles uri icon

publication date

  • December 2020

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 21


  • 1


  • 11

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2076-3417


  • MOOCs (massive open online courses) have a built-in forum where learners can share experiences as well as ask questions and get answers. Nevertheless, the work of the learners in the MOOC forum is usually not taken into account when calculating their grade in the course, due to the difficulty of automating the calculation of that grade in a context with a very large number of learners. In some situations, discussion forums might even be the only available evidence to grade learners. In other situations, forum interactions could serve as a complement for calculating the grade in addition to traditional summative assessment activities. This paper proposes an algorithm to automatically calculate learners' grades in the MOOC forum, considering both the quantitative dimension and the relevance in their contributions. In addition, the algorithm has been implemented within a web application, providing instructors with a visual and a numerical representation of the grade for each learner. An exploratory analysis is carried out to assess the algorithm and the tool with a MOOC on programming, obtaining a moderate positive correlation between the forum grades provided by the algorithm and the grades obtained through the summative assessment activities. Nevertheless, the complementary analysis conducted indicates that this correlation may not be enough to use the forum grades as predictors of the grades obtained through summative assessment activities.


  • Telecommunications


  • mooc; discussion forum; social learning analytics; automatic grading