December 1, 2023
Policy Updates

Grading Rubric Update

Columbia Southern University (CSU) utilizes grading rubrics to communicate student expectations in regards to specific areas of an assignment. Rubrics identify all the criteria for which the student will be graded, as well as how the student can obtain each level of achievement.

Over the next couple of months, CSU will be enhancing all rubrics to further clarify and define student and faculty expectations, as identified below.

  • The Discussion Board rubric will be added to the directions of Unit 1 in all Term courses that start on or after 4B16 (1/20/16). This rubric should be utilized as a resource when responding and commenting to Discussion Board questions.

Figure 1. Below is the Discussion Board Grading Rubric that will be displayed in Unit I of the course.


• The Written Response rubric will be included within the directions for all Unit Assessments. This rubric should also be utilized as a resource when completing all written response items (short essays). Students enrolled in the LifePace Learning option will be able to view the new written response rubrics in September 2015, whereas students enrolled in the Term option will begin seeing these rubrics starting in Term 4B16 (1/20/16).

Figure 2. Below are the Unit Assessment directions that provide a link to the grading rubric. Please be sure to click on this link before answering the written response item.


Both rubrics will remain consistent in all courses. Please reach out to your faculty member should you have specific questions regarding these enhancements.




  1. Rudy Gragg

    When I started CSU almost two years ago, the discussion boards were used for attendance purposes and did not require a complete and thorough post and an even more complete response. I work full time with three active boys while taking two classes per term, and I do not have time to spend hours on a discussion boards. So, by changing this grading rubric, it is going to make the discussion boards that much more time consuming that I feel is not necessary. Why is the rubric changing for the discussion boards, when it is being utilized for attendance?

    1. Claire Stewart

      Hey Rudy!
      Discussion Boards are utilized to increase engagement with others in your courses. The Discussion Board rubric has been revised to have only one criterion. It has been simplified in order to more clearly communicate expectations to students and should not create any additional time requirements.

    2. LaToya Scott

      Hello Rudy,
      I totally agree with you. I have been attending CSU for quite some time now and I am near completing my Bachelor’s Program. I have found that the Discussion Boards are turning into another assignment. I understand what the intent is but it is beginning to take way more time than it should only because of the new requirements in my opinion.

  2. Josh

    How would discussion board work for life pace courses? I mean to the best of my knowledge the life pace option for those paying out of pocket can do the course as your schedule permits as long as it’s done within 10 weeks. I thought you can finish the course in 10 weeks if you need to or in 7 weeks if you have more time than others. Was I misinformed or did I misunderstand? I’m a new student.

    1. Claire Stewart

      Great question, Josh! As a life pace learner your courses are set up to be 10 weeks long. You have the ability to move through your courses at your convenience within the 10 week perimeter with no assignment due dates or discussion boards. You are eligible to complete your life pace learning course in as little as 28 days (4 weeks) or you may take the full time allotted to complete all eight unites within each course. Life Pace Learning courses do not have discussion board posts so the information provided in the grading rubric on discussion board posts do not apply to Life Pace Learning students but rather to Term enrolled students only.

  3. Karina Davis

    CSU clearly does not realize the amount of writing, time, and effort students are already putting into their classes. If you actually read the chapters, conduct research, and learn how each professor interprets APA format you would realize this is another step to our education which is already overloaded. Not to mention EVERY student should have received an in depth notification of the new rubric for postings. My husband, who has only 2 classes left at CSU already submitted his posts for week I and II and was not aware of this policy until I brought it up to him. You rolled out the site on 1/24/16 with no notice of policy changes which were visible. It is disappointing CSU did not take a moment to see the effects of such change. I am not close to graduating yet and feel as if CSU do not have the students best interest in mind. Perhaps you should compare your assignments with other University’s because to complete all the requirements you are asking in 6 days is a little much forcing students to reduce the amount of classes they take. In turn, students will be looking for colleges with a more realistic workload. I read 100 pages,provided 2 posts and have an extensive research paper to write all in the first week of classes. I also have to learn how the professor wants her APA format, which was 18 pages long. In 6 days, I don’t even have time to utilize the writing center because my paper isn’t ready early enough to receive their help.

    1. Claire Stewart

      Ms. Davis,

      Your comments concerning the discussion board rubric was forwarded to my office. A review was conducted to investigate your concerns. The results of the review indicated that the requirements to earn a solid grade in the discussion boards, using the new rubrics, allows students to write original content without citing and referencing requirement. Second, all APA formatting and use of references has been removed. The rubric does not indicate additional writing is required; however, does indicate that the quality and thoroughness of the narrative can affect an assigned grade. The discussion board is an academic activity, as students can learn from other students and the faculty member by responding to the initial question and replying to your classmates. The quality of the discussions posted does have an impact of the learning experience of each student. The rubric is a manner to measure the quality of a post, not the length.

      The communication regarding this update was posted in the CSU Communicator on 9.8.15 and sent via email to those subscribed to the CSU Communicator on 9.15.15. A reminder was posted in the myCSU Student Portal on 1.20.16 with a link to the article, so students were prepared for this change.

      My hope is that this review addresses your concerns. Please forward any further thoughts or concerns.

      -From Dr. Elwin Jones, Academic Provost for Academic Affairs.

  4. Jeff Bird

    I am completely astounded that there are students actually complaining about the discussion board rubric being posted. Furthermore, I have never had a professor state that a discussion board post was only for attendance, or that a thorough, thought provoking posting was not the expectation. In fact, when reading the syllabus for any course, it often outlines the expectations of the discussion boards by stating that a simple ‘I like your comment’ is unacceptable. Actually, I get a little offended when students post non-relevant material on the discussion boards that are either full of grammatical errors or improper English. After all, this is a collegiate level assignment, we should pride ourselves enough to treat it as such.
    Please be aware that this comment comes from an individual who has three boys, a wife who also works full time, and a full time position requiring 50-60 hours a week with periodical travel.
    No, it is not easy, but it can be done! It requires sacrifice and a ton of dedication, but it can be done. We should be more supportive of the school for trying to raise the level of expectations.

  5. Monica J Chalman

    I am just transferring from a regionally accredited University at which all discussion boards are part of your grade. Discussion boards help students to think through the topic, and learn to communicate ideas to fellow students in a manner consistent with real world discussions in their respective fields with their peers. In the real world your job will require you to discuss and interpret issues with your peers in a thoughtful manner. Discussion boards in my opinion are an extremely important part of the learning process. It has been my experience that many students wait till the last minute to participate in these discussions and then are less than participatory. Every aspect of your education has a direct relationship to how you will perform in the future, take the discussions seriously, and please don’t expect responses such as, “I totally agree”, to hold up as participatory. I personally applaud CSU for requiring this most important aspect of your learning in it’s coursework. P.S. I work up to 18 hours a day and maintain my farm alone learning to make time to each aspect of your life and education will help you better manage your future employment and set priorities.