In an online learning environment, discussion postings often serve as key modes of class participation. As a result, these posts are a great way to demonstrate you have read and thought critically about course readings. Although generally shorter and narrower in focus than a traditional essay, discussion posts should be as coherent and scholarly in tone. Think of these posts as a mini-essay, in which you want to have a single central argument and clear evidence to support that argument. It is important to keep length requirements in mind, limiting the scope of your response, so it will remain clear, focused, and relevant to the topic at hand. Below are some tips for crafting an effective discussion posting.
Writing a Successful Discussion Posting
1. Read the discussion prompt carefully, paying special attention to:
a. Purpose: What question or required reading are you being asked to respond to?
b. Particulars: What is the word limit? When is the due date and time? What sources are you expected to draw on?
c. Formatting: What formatting has your instructor requested? If no specific formatting is indicated, follow general APA guidelines.
2. Prepare Adequately
a. Before beginning your post, make sure you have read all of the required readings with a critical eye.
b. After reading, spend some time jotting down your reactions, ideas, and responses to the reading.
c. Determine one-two of your strongest ideas, which you will structure your response around, by assessing the amount of evidence you have to support a particular assertion, response, or claim.
d. Logically piece together a rough outline of your evidence to make your claim both clear and persuasive.
3. Construct a draft in MS Word
a. Craft a clear topic sentence, or minithesis, which states your central argument, claim, or response.
b. Use your evidence to build your response and persuade your readers by supporting your claim with course readings or outside sources (if permitted or required).
c. Make sure that each piece of evidence keeps your post focused, relevant, clear, and scholarly in tone.
d. Make sure you have adequately cited all information or ideas from outside sources in your post and have added a full reference at the end.
4. Review and Revise
After writing your post, review your ideas by asking yourself:
a. Is my main idea clear and relevant to the topic of discussion?
b. Does my response demonstrate evidence that I have read and thought critically about required readings?
c. Have I proposed a unique perspective that can be challenged by my classmates?
d. Do I support my claim with required readings or other credible outside sources?
e. Have I used a scholarly tone, avoiding jargon or language that is overly conversational?
f. Have I self-edited my response for grammar, style, and structure?
a. Copy and paste the final MS Word version of your draft into the discussion forum.
b. Do a quick check to make sure no formatting mishaps occurred while uploading.
c. Wait patiently for responses from your classmates.
Writing a Successful Response to Another's Post
• Read postings by your classmates with an open mind; think critically about which posts are the most provocative to you.
• When responding, clearly highlight which posts to which you are responding (so as not to confuse your classmates or instructor).
• Whether you are asserting agreement or disagreement, provide clear and credible evidence to support your response.
o You will want to avoid using unsupported personal opinions, generalizations, or language that others might find offensive.
• When in disagreement, keep responses respectful and academic in tone.
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