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How To Write A Successful Discussion Post

Champlain College Online Advising Team

At Champlain College Online, class discussions are not only the place where your participation happens, but they are also where a significant portion of your learning happens as well! 

In your classes, your individual assignments are the space for you to engage with the course subject on your own and to put your learned skills into practice. Your class discussions, however, are the space in which you, your classmates, and your instructors are all collaborating towards group learning together. 

Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you are maximizing your points in your discussions and contributing to a robust conversation! 

The Technical Side

Using proper grammar, mechanics, and spelling

While it might seem obvious to write in a course discussion with complete grammar, mechanics, and spelling, it’s important to read through your responses carefully to check for any errors before posting. This is not only important for your grade, but it will also ensure that your message and thoughts can be clearly communicated and understood by your classmates and instructor. Avoid “netspeak” or acronyms and be sure to communicate in clear, complete sentences.

Citing your sources

Academic integrity is extremely important to Champlain College Online, and it’s a practice that most career fields value as well. Within your courses, it is expected of all students that, when contributing to their courses in both discussions and assignments, they write with academic honesty and integrity. But what does writing with integrity mean? Within course discussions, writing with academic integrity means that, if you are contributing words that are not your own, you are using a proper citation method to indicate where those words originated. Different courses might expect the use of different citation styles like APA or MLA, so be sure to read your course syllabus and discussion rubrics carefully.

Drafting and structure

When working on an initial discussion post in response to the prompt for that week, it can often be helpful to start your draft in a word document. Not only can this be helpful for editing and drafting a thoughtful response before posting, but it also prevents you from losing any prior work if your page in the discussion itself loses connection or refreshes. Utilizing a word document can also be helpful in putting you in an academic mindset for writing your posts.

While your class discussions are always a place to share your thoughts and stories, and to get to know your classmates, they are still taking place within an academic setting. This means that when writing your initial response, it can be helpful to think about the structure of your post. Does your post have an introduction, thesis statement or main point, and conclusion? Have you included supporting evidence for your main thesis that connects back to the readings or course materials for the week? Incorporating this structure into your initial post will not only ensure that you are maximizing your grade points, but it will also create a clear, succinct, and thorough post that your classmates can understand and respond to.

The Content Side

Post early and often

Each week of your course begins a new discussion, and the best, most robust conversations begin with early, thoughtful responses and continued engagement throughout the week. By participating early in the discussion, your contribution can lead the conversation and continued follow up throughout the week can stimulate in-depth learning for both you and your classmates.

Be respectful

Your course discussions are the place in which you’ll be interacting the most with your classmates. Class discussions are designed to be a safe and collaborative space to exchange ideas. This means that all students are expected to participate in a respectful way. It is certainly okay to disagree with your classmates, and even your instructor, but the goal of class discussions is to facilitate collective learning; so it can be helpful to think about how your responses accomplish this. Sometimes this might mean taking a moment to read your responses aloud to be sure they are received with the tone you intend; or, if you find yourself having a strong emotional response to a discussion, maybe take a few moments for yourself to process your reaction or talk through your emotions with a friend or loved one. While discussions can certainly be a space to share your thoughts and feelings on a subject, especially to foster connection and learning with your classmates, it is important for the experience of all students to do so in a respectful way.

Propel the discussion forward

You the student are the active participant in your courses! One of the ways to successfully contribute to a class discussion is to ask thoughtful questions that stimulate further conversations. While it’s a good start to ask what your classmate’s thoughts are on the topic, both you and your classmates will get a much deeper understanding out of the conversation by asking more in-depth and probing questions. Perhaps you could ask why your classmate believes in their stance, or you could share an additional article or video on the topic of discussion and connect it to the reading. By thinking about your discussion responses in this way, you not only contribute to a more comprehensive discussion, but you are also sharpening your own critical thinking skills!

An important takeaway

No matter what, if you do have questions about how to approach a discussion or want to clarify the expectations for a specific course, it’s always best to reach out to your instructor. Your instructors want you to succeed in your course discussions and can help you make sense of their expectations. This conversation can be ongoing throughout the semester as well; as you begin to get familiar with the course’s content and the instructor, you’ll better understand an instructor’s feedback and incorporate it into future posts. Discussions are a critical component of your courses and will be a valuable part of your Champlain College Online experience!

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Champlain College Online Advising Team

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