Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Instructor: Thomas Hajduk
Course: 45-791 Interpersonal Managerial Communication,
70-343 Interpersonal Business Communication, Tepper School of Business
Assessment: Rating Scale for Assessing Leading Discussions


A key business communication skill is the ability to lead discussions. I believe that it is crucial for students to practice this skill and to receive accurate assessments of their performance. Students also appreciate knowing the criteria that I use to determine their grades. Therefore, I wanted to create a systematic and consistent assessment of students’ skill in leading discussions.


I constructed a rating scale that decomposes the skill of leading discussions into five components: (1) content and argument influence, (2) structural and organizational influence, (3) vocal influence, (4) non-verbal influence, and (5) visual image influence. All dimensions focus on influence because I want to assess leadership, not just participation, in discussions. Each component is described as a set of measurable behaviors, which are scored on a numerical scale. During the semester, each student leads discussions several times. I complete the rating scale and write notes in the margins as a student leads discussion. I give the student this feedback immediately after class.


Consistent use of this rating scale allows students to see their progression, especially if they have been working on a particular aspect of their discussion-leading skills. It has also made my teaching more focused because I am more aware of what students are working on.


Because students lead several discussions during the semester, I interpret the scores not only as snapshots of students’ strengths and weaknesses at a given time, but also as improvements over time. I have used and occasionally revised this rating scale for years, and evaluating students as they lead discussions is a standard course component.

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