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Common Assignments: Writing a Successful Discussion Post

Writing a Successful Discussion Post

1. Read the discussion prompt carefully.

Pay special attention to:

  • Purpose: What question or required reading are you being asked to respond to?
  • Particulars: What is the word limit? When is the due date and time? What sources are you expected to draw on?
  • Response type: Are you being asked to reflect on personal experience, determine a solution to a problem, compare two ideas, or make an argument?
  • Formatting: What formatting has your instructor requested? If no specific formatting is indicated, follow general APA guidelines.
  • Expectations: How will your discussion post be assessed? Consult your course materials or instructor.

2. Prepare adequately.

  • Before beginning your post, make sure you have read all of the required readings with a critical eye.
  • Access your instructor's feedback on previous assignments. Based on that feedback, how do you want to improve in this next post?
  • After reading, spend some time jotting down your reactions, ideas, and responses to the reading.
  • 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.
  • Logically piece together a rough outline of your evidence to make your claim both clear and persuasive.

3. Construct a draft.

  • Discussion post assignments often have multiple questions. Instead of answering each one in order, use a topic sentence to bring all points together into one central argument, claim, or purpose. 
  • 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).
  • Make sure that each piece of evidence keeps your post focused, relevant, clear, and scholarly in tone.
  • Type in sentence case; in an online environment, ALL CAPS feels like yelling.
  • 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:

  • Is my main idea clear and relevant to the topic of discussion?
  • Does my response demonstrate evidence that I have read and thought critically about required readings?
  • Have I proposed a unique perspective that can be challenged by my classmates?
  • Do I support my claim with required readings or other credible outside sources?
  • Have I used a scholarly tone, avoiding jargon or language that is overly conversational?
  • Have I proofread my response for grammar, style, and structure?

5. Submit.

  • Copy and paste the final version of your draft into the discussion forum.
  • Do a quick check to make sure no formatting mishaps occurred while uploading.
  • Wait patiently for responses from your classmates.