The Commons does not have a grade book feature. However, the Commons does offer several tools for formative assessment throughout the semester. If desired, data from these tools can be exported and entered into an excel sheet or external grade book.

By offering tools for formative assessment instead of a full grade book, the Commons hopes to support instructors who would like to use a grade book but also foster spaces for alternative grading and assessment possibilities. Some instructors use the Commons to teach their course and continue to maintain the grade book in Blackboard. Other instructors on the Commons provide students with ongoing, time-manageable feedback through the Commons (WP-Grade Comments) and offer grade updates at select points throughout the semester (via email, commons messages, longer written feedback, or office hours). Other instructors on the Commons use student-centered grading techniques like contract grading or project-based assessment to give students more control in determining their engagement in the course.

The Commons aims to support various grading methods and therefore does not offer a native grade book. The Commons hopes the tools provided (described below) will support instructors who use the Commons for their courses. If you have a question or suggestion for grading on the Commons, please reach out to the Commons Community Team through the HELP button above.

The Commons has several tools that to support the instructors in grading and tallying student engagement on the course site  or group. These tools are described in more detail below.


Forum Participation Tallying

In a group, the “forum” allows group members to engage in a threaded discussion. Instructors often use this space to host asynchronous conversations asking students to post reading responses or reflections to share with one another, or to collect resources or turn in assignments for peer review.

Previously, there was no easy way to see how many times a student posted or engaged in the forum. In the Fall of 2020, the Commons added a  button in the group forum page that allows group admins to download a CSV file of forum participation. The CSV download button will create and download a spreadsheet containing each topic and reply create in the Group forum. Data includes each post topic, reply content, username, topic/reply URL, and date/time.

By downloading this CSV document and opening it in excel, an instructor could easily see each student’s participant in the forum, and read each students’ forum posts in one place. Downloading this document to your local computer also makes grading or tallying possible offline.

Click here for more documentation on group forums.


There are several options for giving private feedback or  tallying user participation on Commons sites.

WP Grade Comments

WP Grade Comments adds a private comment option to all posts. With this plugin installed, instructors can leave a private comment / feedback on a student’s post. Private comments are only visible to the comment and post authors (i.e. instructors and student post author).

A sample reading response post is below. The post is on a Commons site with the WP Grade Comments plugin installed.You will see (in the green boxes), where the plugin adds the options and information about posting a private comment for feedback.

To install the WP Grade Comments plugin go to Dashboard > Plugins. You must be an admin on a site to install plugins.




Reckoning provides a user summary for easy reading and tallying students posts and comments. You can track and tally student work on a Commons site using the Reckoning plugin. Students must be users (authors) on the site and create posts or comments  for their work to be tallied by the Reckoning plugin.

To install the Reckoning Plugin  head to Dashboard >Plugins. Once installed, a “User Summary” page will be added to the Users area of the dashboard. There are two views in the User Summary: the Overview, and Individual User Content. The Overview page contains a list of all users and all posts and comments made by each user. An Individual User Content page contains a more in-depth look at a single user, displaying all the posts and comment content submitted by the user.

Go to Users>User Summary in the dashboard (on the left in the image below) to view student users’ work on the site. The User Summary page will display a list of all site users (students) and their posts and comments on the Site. You can click the “Student Name” to view all content of posts and comments created by a particular user on the site.

If you would like to export User Summary data from, Reckoning to use in an excel sheet or other grading tool, click the export button at the top of the User Summary page. This export includes all information in the Overview page (seen above) – author username,  post title, comment title, date, and category.

The data export file does not include post and comment content . Individual user post and comment content is visible in the individual user view but is not exported inn the CSV data. If you would like to export all content, please submit a ticket through the Commons help desk.