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Webinar Transcripts

Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts

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Presented February 21, 2019

Last updated 3/22/2019

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

  • Recording
    • Will be available online within 24 hours.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Now: Use the Q&A box.
    • Later: Send to writingsupport@waldenu.edu or visit our Live Chat Hours.
  • Help
    • Ask in the Q&A box.
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar room

Audio: Hello, everyone. I am Sarah Prince. Welcome to the writing center's webinar this evening. I know that we've got folks who are nice and warm and cozy this evening or this afternoon. And we've got others of you who are in the midst of yucky weather. Whether that's rain or hail even or snow. So, wherever you are, and whatever the weather is where you are, I'm thrilled that you're joining us this evening, afternoon, or maybe even morning, depending where you're located.

Before we begin, and hand this session over to Melissa our presenter for this evening, I just want to quickly to cover a few housekeeping issues. First, we are recording this webinar, so you are welcome to access it at a later date. And that’s via our webinar archive. In fact, note that we record all of our webinars at the writing center so you're welcome to look through that archive for other recordings that might interest you as well. And we might mention a few that would be help to follow-up this webinar during this session.

Also, whether you're attending this webinar live or watching a recording, note that you’ll be able to participate in any polls that we use, files we share or links we provide and that includes the PowerPoint slides that Melissa’s going to be sharing tonight. Now those PowerPoint slides are actually located in the files pod. You'll see that files pod in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

Now finally, we also welcome any questions and comments you have throughout the session. In fact, that is my job as the facilitator this evening. So, feel free to reach out to me via the comment box or the Q&A box and I'd be happy to share any answers to your questions throughout the session as Melissa is talking. So, don't wait to ask those questions. You're welcome to ask me the questions as they arise during tonight's presentation.

And one last thing, you're welcome to send any technical issues you have to me as well. Although I do want to note that there's a help option at the top right-hand corner of your screen. And that's actually Adobe's technical support. So that's generally the best place to go for technical help. I have a few tips and trick up my sleeve but usually that's the best place.

Okay with that said, I'm going to turn it over to Melissa to get us started this evening.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts” and the speaker’s name and information: Melissa Sharpe, Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Melissa Sharpe: Great. Thanks, Sarah. Hi, everybody. My name is Melissa Sharpe and I am a writing instructor here at the Walden writing center and I am one of those people who is in a place with slightly yucky weather. As I am in Detroit Michigan and our winter is far, far from over. I want to thank everybody for joining us today as we talk about writing and responding to discussion posts.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: After this webinar you will be able to:

  • Articulate the importance of discussion posts at Walden
  • Identify the requirements for a post from a writing prompt
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in sample posts
  • Understand how to facilitate discussion when responding to posts

Audio: As we go through this webinar, we're going to cover quite a few topics, of course all related to writing and discussion posts. However, specifically by the time this webinar is complete, you will feel more able to articulate the importance of discussion posts as part of your academic career here at Walden. You will also be able to identify the requirements for the post by examining the prompt.

You will also be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in some sample discussion posts. This is an activity we will do in the later part of the webinar. And you will also understand how to engage in a discussion when responding to posts in a way that's really going to deepen the discussion and add value to your own experience in that class along with everyone else's.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Disclaimer!

  • We will discuss: Tips, methods, suggestions, and resources.
  • We won’t discuss: One right way to write a discussion post. 
  • Aim to develop how to best navigate, orchestrate, and realize discussion post writing for yourself.

Audio: So, a little bit of a disclaimer before we get started. In the webinar today we are going to look at tips, methods, suggestions for writing discussion posts along with some additional resources. We'll definitely explore the steps that you can follow when you have a prompt, how to go from that prompt to creating your post and responding to other posts. However, we're not going it look at one right way or the best way to create a discussion post. And that's because each assignment is a little bit different and there isn't one secret magical way to create a discussion post that will work every week in all of your classes. So, what we're going to look at today are tips and methods that you can take and adjust and apply for your own courses. Our goal here is to help you be able to look at your own assignment and figure out how to best create that post on your own, using the things that we look at today.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What are the Discussion Posts?

“The Discussion areas offer you a means to communicate with your colleagues and the instructors for this course.” (Walden University, 2013).

“The exchange of ideas between colleagues engaged in scholarly inquiry is a key aspect of graduate-level learning, and is a requisite activity in this course”

(Walden University, 2013a).

Audio: So, what are discussions posts? Chances are if you're here in this webinar right now you're probably familiar with discussion posts and that's because in an online learning environment, a lot of that learning takes place in the discussion posts on discussion boards within your course because you don't have that seat time where you're sitting and talking with class mates. Instead you're sitting and typing to them.

And a discussion post is this very important space because it gives you a way to communicate with the other students in your class and your instructor in a regular, frequent way. I'm sure you realize that you have discussion posts that are due much more often than other types of assignments. And the nature of a discussion board allows for an exchange of ideas, you and the people in your class get to talk about the topics and ideas in a way that probably doesn't happen with major assignments say like a final project or Capstone document because you're not submitting that necessarily to other people in your course to read and to talk about. So, throughout this engagement and exchange of ideas, a lot learning takes police and discussion posts are the way that we do this in our courses here at Walden.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What Are Discussion Posts?

  • Discussion Posts
    • Develop communication skills in an online environment.
    • Build critical thinking and writing skills.
    • Explore ideas and learn from your peers.
    • Provide practice for academic writing.

Conversational vs. Formal academic tone: Can depend on the course—if you’re not sure, ask your instructor!

Audio: Within that discussion post, which I'm sure can sometimes seem like just one more task that you have to do every week, there’s a lot of value and importance within the process of writing your discussion posts. First it helps you be able to communicate in an online environment. This is the way we communicate. It is asynchronous so were doing it at our own time it is all typed through a keyboard.  And the more that you refine your discussion post writing process, the better able you are to communicate in an online environment. And outside of your academic career, you'll probably spend a lot of time communicating in this way. If you don't already do so, there are a lot of emails that we write.

There is a lot of communicating in and online environment even if we happen to be live, like we are tonight that are going to tap into these skills that you get as you work on your discussion posts. And because the discussion posts, as I’m sure you realized can be pretty hefty assignments, this is a great place to build your critical thinking and writing skills. These assignments tend to be research based and quite a bit longer than just a single paragraph or few lines that we might think of when we initially think of a discussion post. So, you get all this experience working on your writing skills and working on your critical thinking. It's all in a place where yes, discussion posts are important and they make up your grade. However, it's a smaller portion of your grade than say a final project or it carries less weight than the Capstone you're working on towards the end of your degree.

A discussion post also benefits you within that course because you're getting to explore ideas and think through them on your own. You're able to process information, talk to others about it and that is what really builds your expertise. And because of all of these writing, you are improving your academic writing when you write those discussions posts every week, you are helping yourself become a stronger writer for the major assignments within that class.

Something that we want to mention when we think about discussion posts are, okay, so we know that it is an assignment that may be shorter than some longer papers that you write. And it's in a place where you're talking to classmates and your instructor. So, what is the tone? Is the tone going to be casual and conversational? Or is the tone more formal and academic like what you would see in a final paper? Or a major project? And really that depends on the course and the instructor preference. So, it's important that if you're sure, you ask.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: A Note About Time

  • Courses are fast-paced and often contain weekly discussion assignments:
    • an initial discussion post assignment and
    • discussion response post assignments
  • What should you do?
    • Schedule deadlines
    • Develop time-saving habits

Audio: Discussion posts are often weekly assignments. And your courses and your coursework are already pretty fast paced. And so, we have these weekly discussion posts and assignments that you're working on which is going to include your initial discussion posts that you create along with your responses to others within that course.

So, within that week your time might feel a little crunched, a little bit compressed. So, it's important that you schedule deadlines for yourself to help with discussion post management and also that you work on developing time saving habits. And we'll take a look at a few of those in just a moment.

When we talk about scheduling deadlines, it can be helpful to look at when your discussion post is due and then figure out working backwards from that date. Am I going to submit for the writing center for review? You want to book up two days because if you make an appointment with us, your paper is reviewed the day on or after that scheduled time. So, you want to back up so you have enough time to submit and revise. So, you say that's when the draft will be ready. And then you want to plan for yourself how much time do I need to write that draft to complete the reading. Scheduling the deadline for yourself will help you schedule the week. It goes by really fast. Something we recommend is come up with ways to make the most of your time while you're working.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Tips for Making the Most of Your Time

Carefully read the discussion prompt at the start of week.

  • Gives you time to ask your faculty questions & review the rubric

Keep the discussion prompt in mind as you read.

  • Will help you connect readings to your ideas when you write

Analyze the discussion prompt before you write.

  • Identify key areas for you to focus your writing on

Audio: The first tip that we have is to carefully read that discussion prompt or the assignment directions at the beginning of the week. This will give you time to ask questions if you have any, if anything is unclear in that post or you have questions about what you're supposed to do. If you read it on the first day of the new week, you have plenty of time to ask those questions and to have them answered. It gives you time to look at the Rubric to see what's expected of you and what will go into the grade for that assignment.

Also, because you have read that post at the beginning of the week, you're going to have the prompt in mind as you work through the course resources for that week. If you know what your end goal is, if you know what you're going to be writing about for the week, you're going to have that if your brain as your reading. You will be forming connections as you read those course assignments, any of the supplement materials in the course and guide research that you do on your own if it is part of the assignment. So instead of just reading three articles in one week and then looking at the directions and going back to the three articles, if you start with the directions in mind as you read the articles you will be able to connect them to the directions the first time around. This can save you a little bit of time.

It also helps if you analyze the discussion prompt before you write. That's something that we'll look at next. You want to take a look at that prompt to look for keywords, maybe the actions you should take like maybe if you are describing, maybe you could see how long the post has to be. That's a very important requirement. You will be able to find keywords that will help you focus your writing. If you have those requirements in mind before you write it sets you up to succeed versus if you just start writing, writing and then go back and try to compare what you have and then adjust it to make the prompt. Those things all take a little bit of time.

So, if we keep that prompt front and center, focus on it at the beginning of the week and return through it throughout our work, it actually helps saves time.

 

Visual: Chat Activity

Chat #1

What tips or strategies have helped you manage your time each week to write quality discussion posts?

Audio: We're going to pause now for a chat. I want you to go ahead and share in that chat box any tips or strategies that have helped you manage your time each week so you're able to write quality discussion posts while meeting your deadlines.

[silence as students respond]

I sort of see two themes appearing in some the tips that you're sharing. And one of them is, it looks like a lot of you like to work ahead or at least take peeks ahead into what is going to be expected of you next. And that is a great way to save time. That aligns with this idea of starting with that discussion post, prompt in mind. If you have that, the requirements, the directions what you’re are asked to do in mind as you work through the materials for that week, it definitely saves you time because you know what you're going to be working on.

Something else I noticed is that a lot of you are talking about different reading strategies to save time. And this is a great point to make. When we talk about writing a discussion post, we can't think of that as being only the act of writing because the act of writing is always tied to reading and what we have read in these ideas that we're engaging with. So, making sure that you have a good strategy for managing your course reading and again this is personal what works for you is all that matters. If you're able to manage the reading and make sure you have that done on time, it definitely will help you stay on track with writing your discussion posts.

I want to thank everybody for sharing some tips and I hope you're able to look through those responses and maybe be inspired by what somebody else had to say.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing a Discussion Post

Audio: Now, we will take a look at writing a discussion post. We'll be spending some time looking at sample prompts and we will look at some tips of how to digest that prompt and turn it into a discussion post.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Review the Assignment Prompt

Example Assignment Prompt

Post by Day 3

Read this week’s readings and lecture; reflect on your own experiences and describe one best experience and one worst experience where you chose to communicate in an electronic/computer communication channel rather than a physical presence or written/printed channel. Be sure to include answers to the following questions:

  • Why did you choose to communicate electronically rather than in person?
  • Why was the experience positive or negative?
  • How do the components and processes of communication apply to the electronic/computer channel?
  • Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to the week's Learning Resources and something you have read, heard, seen, or experienced.
    • Prewriting
    • Action
    • Details

Audio: So, the first thing that we'd like to do when we have a new discussion post prompt is, we like to review that post. We want to take a look at it and scan it for keywords. And here you will see these keywords are highlighted in blue to help them stand out. We're looking for certain things. I'm sure if you have been a student here for a while you have noticed that the discussion posts prompt and directions can be pretty detailed and long and there is a lot of information included there which is great because it means we have a lot to work with.

However, it can be overwhelming because we have a lot there. We have to sort through it to figure out what we're doing and what is best to focus on. So here we have an example assignment prompt. And I'm sure it will look familiar to you. It starts off by when that post has to be created. And you'll notice there's an arrow pointing to some of the important details. These bulleted details are really what that post is going to include. And sometimes when I have students who make appointments with me in the writing center who have started but feel a little bit stuck in their post, I tell them to take a look at the prompt and look for that bulleted list and see if they can write one section about each of those points or if they happen to be stuck, try to write just one sentence about each of those bullet points and then slowly expand that sentence into a complete paragraph.

When you're given this bulleted list, you have a check list of what needs to appear in your prompt. So, it's really helpful to identify that bulleted list. These are the types of things that we like to keep in mind as we're doing the reading because this will help us form connections to these things. So, we have definitely found details that this post needs to answer these three questions about why you may have chosen to communicate electronically instead of in person. Why the experience is positive or negative and how do processes of communication apply to those electronic venues.

Then you'll also notice that a lot of these prompts in addition to telling us the three, four, five things you have to write about, also may give us some things to do before we start writing. So, you'll see here that the first two steps are to read the readings and lecture and then reflect on your experiences. Those are important prewriting steps. Those are the things that you do before you write the post. However, those things will not appear within your post.

We don't want you just to summarize the reading and then give us a reflection of your experience. Instead we want, we would like you to respond to the three bullet points which include describing the best, the worst experience when you chose to communicate through electronic methods instead of in person. That’s what the post is about. So yes, it's going to refer to the reading and it’s going to refer to your experiences but really what this post is looking for is all the stuff that comes after that.

So, there will frequently be some prewriting tips or suggestions as part of your prompt. Also see that there are all the actions that you have to take, typically up here both here at the very top of the post where it's going to give us the deadline and a sort of this one sentence summary of what this post is about but then also at the bottom where you'll see in italics we are told that we need to support our ideas both with the resources so that would be research and a personal experience, something that you read, heard, had seen or experienced yourself.

So here on this prompt there really are a lot of things to pull apart and digest and find. But when  you read it and you are able to focus yourself and say, okay this is the prewriting that is what I should do before I start okay here are the details you have to include and here are some of the important things you need to do including research or reflecting on a personal experience, that's what you keep in mind as you work on the course material that week and it will help you have a very well-focused experience that ends up in a discussion post.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Now Write!

  • Establish an overarching purpose:
    • What is your message in your post? What idea or argument do you want to get across?
  • Articulate that purpose in a thesis statement:
    • Statement of your argument or idea that appears in your post.
  • Purpose
    • I tend to choose electronic communication when I want to reach someone quickly and tone isn’t very important.
  • Thesis Statement
    • Electronic communication has worked best for me when it is important to communicate my message quickly and when it is unlikely that my tone of voice will be misunderstood.

Audio: So now that we have looked at that prompt and we have kept it in mind and we’ve pulled out keywords and the stuff we need to do and the specific details we need to write about and we have read the course resources, we are ready to write. Now, before you start writing anything, it really helps to have a purpose in mind and that is why you're writing what you're focus will be, and of course, we like to state that in a thesis statement.

Having a purpose and a thesis are important in writing because it is going to keep you on track to ensure that you are only meeting that purpose and that you are only supporting that thesis. And this helps keep your reader on track, too. Because when they encounter that thesis statement, they will know without a doubt what the rest of that post is about. So, when you're thinking about your purpose, you want to ask yourself, what is the messenger you’re trying to convey? What is that big idea or what is the main argument you're trying to get across?

If you had to state it in a single sentence, what would your purpose be? What is that one message you want to share? And here based on that sample prompt about electronic communication, our example purpose, I tend to use electronic communication when I want to reach someone quickly and tone isn't very important. These are the main ideas. This is the reason I'm writing the post. When somebody's done reading my post, this is what I hope they say the main idea is. That’s the purpose I’m setting for myself as a writer.

We also like to articulate that in a thesis statement which is that guiding statement what the entire piece of writing is about and traditionally we do like to see that at the end of an introduction because that’s just where the reader expects it. We understand what the topic is. We're ready to hear it where you’ll take it. A thesis statement is an actual statement that will appear in your writing.

Whereas the purpose is just what's guiding the thesis. A thesis statement is going to sound quite a bit formal as you can see here. The thesis is electronic communication has worked best for me when it is important to communicate my message quickly and when it is unlikely that my tone of voice will be misunderstood. That thesis statement will actually appear in the post and that is what everything else in the post is going to support and be about and provide details on. Starting off with a purpose and a draft thesis will help you keep the writing on track.

 

Visual: Now Write!

Audio: Now, as you're writing and you are taking those bullet points and turning them to complete paragraphs or complete sections, you'll want to keep some basic good writing tips in mind which include using the meal plan or other paragraphing strategies in order to ensure that you have fully developed paragraphs. If you're not familiar with the meal plan there's a link on the slide. It is one paragraphing device that will help you fully develop a paragraph so that it has a singular main idea, evidence and details and your analysis. If you struggle with forming complete paragraphs or if you feel like your paragraphing skills could use a boost reviewing the meal plan is helpful for that. We also want to keep in mind that this is academic writing and we want to maintain the scholarly academic tone throughout.

And also, as a discussion post is academic writing, we're still looking to cite our sources and include a reference list if have been asked to include outside research. If your post is of course based only on personal experiences, then you’d likely would not have sources cited and referenced. If you do have external research to include, we like to cite and reference those because it's good APA style and it’s also a nice way to practice these skills if you can practice them in a discussion post you’ll feel more confident when it comes to larger assignments.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Finalize Your Discussion Post

  • Read through your post again
    • Did you answer assignment questions?
    • Did you meet each requirement?
    • Do the ideas connect logically?
  • Check grammar and typos
    • Use MS Word’s spelling / grammar check or Grammarly

Audio: Once you have your draft, it's time to finalize that post. You want to read through your posts one more time and I always recommend reading out loud because it slows you down enough to hear if something sounds off or maybe to catch where you are not transitioning well. It also will slow you down enough to see the ideas you have included. Perhaps you missed one of those points. You missed a bullet point from the prompt. As you read through the post you want to make sure that you answer the assignment questions, and did you meet each requirement?

If you were asked to write five strategies, do you have five strategies? Sometimes when we are in the writing process, we lose track of those things or we think have them. And at some point, when we review maybe we cut one up. So, stopping in the end and make sure you answered every question and met each requirement is really important. You can have one of the greatest paragraphs ever written. But if that paragraph is off topic from what the assignment's asking, you are not going to produce an effective discussion post.

So, we want to make sure we're meeting our requirements and ensure that our ideas connect logically. We're not contradicting ourselves at any point or going out of order. It's also important to check for grammar and typos. Reading out loud will slow you down enough to hear things. Go ahead and lean on word. Word spelling and grammar check, work well enough to point out things that could be problems. Doesn’t always get it right. However, if you see one of those squiggly red underlines definitely stop to look at that. If you see a green one, it's also worth checking out, too. And also, as a student at Walden you have Constitutional access to Grammarly. So as long as you sign up through our website using the Walden email. You can have Grammarly take a scan through your work as well. And this also will flag any potential problem areas.

 

Visual: Up Next: Sample Posts

Questions?

Audio: Up next we're going to take a look at some sample discussion posts to see how they meet or do not meet the requirements and how they could be improved. However, before we dig in to analyzing these posts, I want to pause a moment to see if there are any questions that have come in.

Sarah: Hey, Melissa, yeah, we did have a question specifically about citation rules for discussion posts. So, is there a need, let's say, to cite the course textbook or other readings that are required for the course in the discussion posts?

Melissa: Yes, this is a great question. And even though the discussion posts, we know that they're housed within our course and that they’re based on the course readings, they still require us to cite any source that we use. Even if it is that course textbook or if we have three articles as part of the reading for that week, we want to cite each of those any time we mention them because that is good APA style and it also provides some clarity. If your post is based on a single piece of reading and the only citation is going to be for that source, we still want to see that citation attached to any sentence that paraphrases or quotes the source. Because that helps us see the difference between what the source had to say and your response. Just like in any piece of academic writing we want to cite our resources and external research that we do.

Sarah: Thanks, Melissa. And then the other piece was about, uh, the Rubric or the assignment prompt. Do you have any thoughts on sort of how to use the Rubric when writing out your discussion post?

Melissa: Yes, we can use a Rubric just in a similar way to how we use the prompt itself. Which is a way to prepare to writing the post. If you have access to a Rubric for that discussion post, you can go through and look at each of the-- usually these are in a table or a grid or they're presented somewhere sort of visually like that. You can go through each of those boxes and see what is asked of you. And you can use that as sort of guiding ideas as you read and of course draft. Then you can use the Rubric also to check your final post.

So, once you have that post written, you can actually try and grade yourself using the Rubric. If you're not comfortable doing that you of course want to go again and look at the boxes and take point by point and see if you included those things. If one box mentioned something like that you have connected it to a real-life experience, you want to make sure that you have mentioned a real-life experience of your own. A box in that Rubric may also mention adhering to APA style. You want to go through it and make sure your work does adhere to APA style and all of your sources are cited.

If you have a Rubric for discussion post you can use it the same way as the prompt both to help you prepare for writing and also just to double check everything once you have produced that post.

Sarah: Perfect. Thanks, Melissa. And a couple of students have asked specifically about where they can locate Grammarly. So just as a heads up I am posting the link to access the Grammarly through the writing centers website in the chat box, so you all should see that momentarily. And that's really all, Melissa. Thank you.

Melissa Sharpe: Thank you for grabbing that link for everybody. I know that is a question that we get a lot. So, it's definitely helpful to check out Grammarly. Like any computer program it is not flawless in the way it works but Grammarly is a really strong tool and it can help you find areas worth the double checking.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sample Post

Chat #2

What important requirement can we identify in this discussion post prompt?

Read the sample article (Hemmeter, 1990) in our learning resources for the week. Consider our discussion about the characteristics of academic writing. Write 1-2 paragraphs about one important characteristic of academic writing and how the sample article fulfilled or failed to include that characteristic. Support your discussion with specific examples from the article.

Topic: One characteristic of academic writing and how Hemmeter (1990) met, or did not meet, that characteristic

Length: 1-2 paragraphs

Sources: The learning resources article

Audio: Okay, we're going to look at some sample discussion posts now to look at the steps for digesting the directions along with ways to improve some things that students have written. So here in the first one, we're going to take a look at the post and try to pull out some of the important requirements, something that you would want to keep in mind working on this assignment, to help I will read the prompt for you.

“Read the sample article and our learning resources for the week. Consider our discussion about the characteristics of academic writing. Write one to two paragraphs about one important characteristic of academic writing and how the sample article fulfilled or failed to include that characteristic. Support your discussion with specific examples from the article.”

So, in the chat box, I want you to find one or more requirements that you can see in this prompt, something that we'd want to keep in mind while preparing or writing our post.

[silence as students respond]

One thing that I see a lot of you pointing out is read the sample article. We definitely want to keep in mind that there is an article that we need to read and refer to. I also see a lot of people pointing out the length, the appropriate length for this post is just one to two paragraphs. We definitely want to keep at that in mind because we wouldn't want to turn in five pages.

Another thing I see is that we have to write about a characteristic of academic writing, I also see a lot of you noting that we have to support your point with some specific examples. And I think that all of those are really important requirements that you'd want to keep in mind. When we're writing this post, we want to ensure that our topic is focused on one characteristic of academic writing. And then also how that article met or did not meet that characteristic. So, we sort of get to judge this article to see if it is living up to the standards of academic writing or not.

And of course, we want to ensure the length is one to two paragraphs. And the only source that we have to use appears to be the learning resource article. However, if there were other course readings on the topic, I'm sure referring to them would be fine.

Thank you for participating in that chat.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sample Post 1: Needs Revision

Read the sample article (Hemmeter, 1990) in our learning resources for the week. Consider our discussion about the characteristics of academic writing. Write 1-2 paragraphs about one important characteristic of academic writing and how the sample article fulfilled or failed to include that characteristic. Support your discussion with specific examples from the article.

Academic writing is different from other types of writing. As Hemmeter (1990) noted, “the path there isn’t meant for everyone” (p. 12) which shows that variety happens in different types of writing. Academically, I have found that my writing does not always fulfill the requirements of scholarly writing. But I’m trying!

Audio: Here we have a sample discussion post based on this prompt. And one of the things that you'll see in this post is that it needs revision. It is not meeting that check list requirements we just created. Here you will see that the post, simply reads, academic writing is different from other types of writing. As Hemmeter noted the path there isn't meant for everyone. Which shows that variety happens in different types of writing. Academically I found my writing doesn’t not always fulfill the requirements of academic writing. But I’m trying! So, here this student definitely touched the idea on academic writing.

But you'll notice that, okay, maybe this is one paragraph. But it is not really about one important characteristic of academic writing. It's just about academic writing in a very, very general way. So, this discussion post needs revision first because it is not meeting the topic requirements. Also, this first draft of this post, while it refers to that sample article, it does not say if the sample article fulfilled or failed in its quest to be academic writing itself. Because of those two big things, in addition to some tone things we can look at, this post needs to be revised.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sample Post 1: Improved

Read the sample article (Hemmeter, 1990) in our learning resources for the week. Consider our discussion about the characteristics of academic writing. Write 1-2 paragraphs about one important characteristic of academic writing and how the sample article fulfilled or failed to include that characteristic. Support your discussion with specific examples from the article.

              Clearly communicating to an audience is an important goal of academic writing in the science fields (Walden University, 2015), and because of this it is important for all of us to keep in mind in our writing for classes at Walden. One way to achieve clear communicating is using formal wording and evidence to support ideas, which can be a challenge.

              In the sample article we read for the week, Hemmeter (1990) did not always do this. Hemmeter instead used casual language that is more appropriate in other genres of writing, but that is not appropriate for an academic science audience. Additionally, Hemmeter did not usually cite other sources to support his ideas. Instead, Hemmeter relied on his own data and conclusions, which caused me to question whether his conclusions were valid.

References…

Audio: Here we can see that we have an improved sample post. And in this one, first of all, I’m sure you can tell that it is longer. We have two paragraphs. And you'll notice that this one immediately opens with, a characteristic of academic writing. So here the student has revised to note that clearly communicating to an audience is an important goal of academic writing in the science fields and because of this, it is important for all of us to keep in mind our writings for classes at Walden. The student has mentioned a characteristic of writing, which is clear communication and one way to achieve that is formal wording and evidence.

So, we have here the identified important characteristics. So, we can check that one off. And then in the next paragraph the student points out that the sample article did not always do this. So right there in that topic sentence we can see the sample article failed to include that characteristic of academic writing. At this point this post, we can tell from looking at it, does a much better job meeting the requirements of the assignment. So, this is a stronger revision. We can see that there's examples woven throughout it and a reference list which has been cut off for the sake of space on your screen. But note that there would be a reference list that follows.

Here the sample post is improved and the way it is improved is perhaps our sample student was keeping the directions in mind as they wrote this time. Or they came back to the prompt after they did their draft to make sure they had met all of those requirements.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sample Post 2

Chat #3

Name one strength and one weakness of this sample discussion post.

By Day 3

Post a one-paragraph summary, in your own words, of Walden’s policy on academic integrity. Identify two types of academic integrity violations, and explain what students can do to avoid them. Make sure to review the Week 1 learning resources before responding.

              The Walden community follows academic integrity standards that encourage the use of and crediting of sources in academic writing (Walden University, 2016). These important standards ensure the ethical use of sources in students’ writing, and students agree to follow these standards by participating in the Walden community (Walden University, 2016). As part of its policy, Walden University (2016) stated that it may check student writing for plagiarism. Plagiarism can be defined as re-submitting past papers in a current course, called “reuse” plagiarism (Walden University, 2018). Instead, students should develop new perspectives and ideas in each of their course assignments.

References…

Audio: We're going to take a look at another sample post now. And for this one in the chat box, I want you to name one strength and one weakness of the sample post. The prompt is in the gray box. And then the student writing is under it. So, I'll give you a couple of minutes to read through that sample post and see if you can identify one's strength, something the student did well and one weakness or an area that could be improved.

[silence as students respond]

One thing that a few of you are pointing out already, it appears there is only one example of an academic integrity violation. And in the directions, we're asked to present two. That would definitely would be a weakness of this that it needs another example. Um, in order to fulfill those requirements. I also see some people pointing out that there are citations included in this post which is great. We want to make sure that all research is cited.

And I'll give you just another maybe half a minute to finish this. Some people are pointing out the length is correct. And it is. We can see post a one paragraph summary in your own words. And we can see that this is definitely this is one paragraph.

Yeah, I would agree that the tone here is academic. That this is appropriate for a discussion post.

 

Visual: Sample Post 2: Needs Revision

By Day 3

Post a one-paragraph summary, in your own words, of Walden’s policy on academic integrity. Identify two types of academic integrity violations, and explain what students can do to avoid them. Make sure to review the Week 1 learning resources before responding.

              The Walden community follows academic integrity standards that encourage the use of and crediting of sources in academic writing (Walden University, 2016). These important standards ensure the ethical use of sources in students’ writing, and students agree to follow these standards by participating in the Walden community (Walden University, 2016). As part of its policy, Walden University (2016) stated that it may check student writing for plagiarism. Plagiarism can be defined as re-submitting past papers in a current course, called “reuse” plagiarism (Walden University, 2018). Instead, students should develop new perspectives and ideas in each of their course assignments.

References…

Strength: Summary of academic integrity

Weakness: Only one type of violation

So, when we take a look at this prompt as some of you pointed out, there are strengths in that it has use of citations. It is in the student's own words. And it includes a summary of academic integrity. However, as you pointed out, the biggest weakness is that this post only writes about one type of violation where we have been specifically asked for two.

So, when we think about Rubrics for discussion posts, it is possible that the Rubric for this assignment would include the note that it had two types of academic integrity and you know for sure that you would not receive full credit if you submitted a post that only looked at one type of violations. So, we would definitely want to add discussion of another type of violation because this is central to this post is all about.

 

Visual: Sample Post 2: Improved

By Day 3

Post a one-paragraph summary, in your own words, of Walden’s policy on academic integrity. Identify two types of academic integrity violations, and explain what students can do to avoid them. Make sure to review the Week 1 learning resources before responding.

                            The Walden community follows academic integrity standards that encourage the use of and crediting of sources in academic writing (Walden University, 2016). These important standards ensure the ethical use of sources in students’ writing, and students agree to follow these standards by participating in the Walden community (Walden University, 2016). As part of its policy, Walden University (2016) stated that it may check student writing for plagiarism. One type of plagiarism is re-submitting past papers in a current course, called “reuse” plagiarism (Walden University, 2018). Instead, students should develop new perspectives and ideas in each of their course assignments. Another type of plagiarism is called “patchwork plagiarism” where parts of the source is cited, but other parts are not (Walden University, 2018). Students can avoid this type of plagiarism by taking carefully incorporating evidence in their writing and double-checking their work.

References…

Audio: Here is a revision of the post. And you see we have underlined the addition. Part way through the paragraph we see the underline that says that one type of plagiarism. The reason this key phrase is now added is because we're going to have two types of plagiarism. And whenever you're looking at multiple examples or you have a multistep process, any time there's a possibility for you to count off one type, another type or first, second third, it is very helpful if you do that for the reader because it keeps them on track.

Remember you know what you're writing about really well because you're thinking about it and drafting it and revising it. So, you know your writing inside and out and you can probably transition from point to point without any help, like first, second, third. But your reader to who is new to these ideas doesn't have that same inside of information. So if you can tell one type of plagiarism is this and then share with them another type, they will greatly appreciate that.

So here in this underlined section you’ll see that the student has revised this post to include a look at the second time of plagiarism. And just by doing that they have met the requirement which is to identify two types of violations.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Responding to a Discussion Post

Audio: Now that we have looked at a couple of sample posts and how to improve them, we're going to spend some time looking at how do you respond to a discussion post?  Part of the strength of a discussion board is that you're able to engage with each other, talk about ideas, have a conversation with one another. That discussion post while it may seem like a singular sort of writing is not static because it gives us room to discuss.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Responding to a Post: Prewriting

  • Double-check the assignment
    • Number of posts to respond to, deadline, etc.
  • Read your peers’ posts
    • Note ideas that you find interesting, challenging, or surprising
    • Consider how these ideas relate to your reading
      • Note discrepancies
    • Select two (or more) posts to respond to

Audio: As the name implies. So, when we look at how we respond to a post, just like when we write our first drive, we're going to do a little bit of prewriting. You will want to double check your assignment to see how many posts you should respond to and when to respond to them. You want to make sure that you are meeting those basic requirements. However, if it says that you have to respond to two or more posts there's no harm in responding to five because it has exceeded that requirement. You will want to check because there are deadlines to when you have to post the responses. And meeting those influences your grade.

In order to respond to a discussion post, I know that this is going to sound a little obvious. But it is an important reminder, you need to read your classmate's posts. You want to read what your peers in that course have to say on the topic in order to know which one you're going to respond to. As you read through those, you'll want to note the ideas that you find interesting, surprising, challenging, maybe totally different than yours or very much related to yours. Anything that stands out to you, remember you get to pick who to respond to. It helps if you choose the ones you have the most interest in. It helps if you look at each other's writing, considering how those ideas relate to your reading and your interpretation.

And it really helps if you can find differences or discrepancies in the way that your classmates have thought about the materials verse how you have. Because when we, if we take different angles on something or interpret things differently. There is a lot of room for discussion there. You can ask questions, you can compare, you can dig into the lines of logic you used. Where if you find somebody who completely agrees with you, sometimes we get stuck because all we can think of saying is, I agree or good point. And really there's more conversation to be had if you can find people who have taken slightly different twists on the topic. That's a good way to get started.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Responding to a Post: Prewriting

  • Ask yourself questions to further determine why this post interests you.
    • Do I agree or disagree?
    • Do I have an example or experience that aligns with my peer’s ideas?
    • Is the argument effective?
    • Does it have any logical flaws?
    • Does it present new information?
    • Does it need further clarification?

Audio: So, once you have prepared, you will do some prewriting to that, to your response. Now the prewriting here could take place within a 15-minute period in your head before you write that draft. Or this could take you a lot longer, maybe you need to read the post and sit on it for a while. But the prewriting for the responding is similar to the prewriting like drafting your original post. You have to ask yourself questions and you have to do some thinking.

As you read through those post you want to figure out why perhaps that response stood out to you or interested you in some way. Maybe it's because you agree or disagree or you have an example or an experience that aligns with what was said. Make you read something and it reminded you of a moment in your own life. Maybe you want to take a look at the argument and logic and the evidence that is presented. Maybe you learned something new or maybe you have genuine questions. Maybe you need something to be clarified even more. And so you want to respond to that post. However, you want to figure out, okay, why am I drawn to this post? What is it that I think I want to say? Stopping and pausing and considering that first helps with you this prewriting phase of your response.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Responding to a Post—Sample

Action Words

  • Read a selection of your colleagues' postings. Respond by Day 6 to two of your colleagues' postings in one or more of the following ways:
  • Compare and contrast their observations with what you found.
  • Ask a probing question.
  • Share an insight from having read your colleague's posting.
  • Offer and support an opinion.
  • Validate an idea with your own experience.
  • Make a suggestion.
  • Expand on your colleague's posting.
  • Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

Audio: When you respond to a post, we want to return to those directions to see if we have any requirements. And here again we have bolded some of the key action words that will guide a response.

Remember if you are asked to respond to one of your classmate's posting in order to compare and contrast with what they said and what you said and but you don't compare and contrast, you have missed the mark of that requirement. Your response could be awesome but if not fulfilling those expectations, of course it’s not doing what it should and that could end up hitting you when it comes to the grade.

So of course, return to the directions, and here we have sample directions that says day two we have to respond to two colleagues in one or more of the following ways. So, we have a great list here about comparing and contrasting. Or asking a question. Sharing an insight. Making a suggestion. Expanding.  You just have to do one or more of those. Here we would not want to get overwhelmed with trying to do all of these in a single response. When all that we have to do is touch on one or more.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Often more conversational, but still…

  • Follow the same writing process
  • Cite any sources you use
  • Maintain a scholarly and collegial tone
    • Engage with that person’s ideas rather than the person (especially if you disagree)
    • Use respectful language
    • Avoid all-caps
  • Continue the conversation!

Audio: Now, your response to a classmate's post may sound a bit more conversational because it is a conversation with another person. However, we still want to follow the same writing process of putting some time into our prewriting doing a draft, stopping to read it out loud before we hit that submit button. And because this is academic writing, we’re still going to cite any sources we use especially if you're going to challenge your classmate or something.

If a person makes a point and you disagree and you're going to come in and disagree with it and you’re going to have some information to back you up, that information should definitely be cited. Or else we don't have reason to believe it or don't see the strength and reality of it.

Again, it's conversational but we want to maintain the scholarly tone and voice because it still is an academic environment and it is a professional environment. We can liken it to sending emails within the workplace. You want to maintain that professional tone and level of respect even though it is not a formal essay. We're still tapping into that tone. Remember we're engaging with the ideas, and we are digging deep into the ideas. We're not doing attacks, we're not losing respect. We're doing simple things like, avoiding typing in all caps because we're not screaming at each other, we are practicing our rolls as professional and academics and scholars.

And really the goal is to continue the conversation. If our discussion post response leaves an opening for somebody else to respond to us, that is great because we want to keep that going. We would like to see discussion posts that have a lot of conversation going on under them. So, if your response is a dead end, one of those simple I agree, that just kind of ends things. And we're looking for those responses to be a conversation. Remember the discussion board is the way that we communicate with each other in order to unpack ideas and explore topics and do a lot of learning. So, it is important that what we say keeps of conversation going.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Example Responses

Response to Pat

I agree that Johnson seemed to be very thorough in using sources to support his ideas, Pat. In the examples you gave, however, I noticed that Johnson only used quotations. The Walden Writing Center (2013) advised students to paraphrase more than directly quote in their writing. So, while we can look to Johnson as a model for using sources in our writing, we should paraphrase those sources instead of quote them. How else would you revise Johnson’s work for improvement?

References…

Response to Helen

Helen, you provided helpful insight when you mentioned that the author used a lot of colloquial language, which we should avoid in academic writing. As I also found in my article, it can be easy to overlook colloquial language because we use it so often in normal conversations. I found the Walden Writing Center’s (2013) examples of colloquial language and other types of casual wording useful in thinking more about this topic.

References…

Audio: Here are a couple of a responses where we can see some of these things in action.  In this first one, we have a response that says, I agree. I agree that Johnson seemed to be very thorough in using sources to support his ideas. Pat In the examples you gave however I noticed that Johnson only used quotations. So here the student is now moving to pointing out that even though they agree overall, there are looking at a slight difference on how that point was supported. This student pulls in evidence from the writing center that advises students to paraphrase more. And one of the things you'll notice at the end here, this post, this response ends in a question. How else would you revise Johnson's work for improvement? By ending in a question, this student has left the conversation open both for Pat and perhaps other students to come in and respond to that question. How else would you revise?

Here the example response is strong because it's engaging with the ideas. It's leaving room for somebody else to respond. And it is digging deeper. It's saying, I agree. But you think this and I think this. Let's talk that through. That is a strong response to a discussion post.

Here's another example of a response. And again, you'll see that in this one, the student has named the original poster which is very friendly and conversational while still keeping that professional tone. So here the student has noted, Helen you provided helpful insight when you mentioned the author used a lot of colloquial language. Which we should avoid in academic writing. As I also found in my article, it can be easy to overlook colloquial language because we use it so often in normal conversation. I found the Walden Writing Centers examples of colloquial language and other types of casual wording useful in thinking more about this topic.

So here the student is saying, I agree. Here's something I found and here's a source that continues this, the look at this topic. Even though that this response is a solid I agree with everything, it's still adding to the conversation by referring to what the student wrote themselves and by referring to something from the writing center. So, it's not just a simple-- wow, that was helpful. Thank you. This continues that conversation. And that's the goal in a response.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Other Resources

Audio: Now that we have looked at discussion posts and the how to create a discussion post based on the prompt and also how to respond to other people's posts, I want to share just a few of our resources with you even though this looks like a ton. This is just a slight sampling of what we have to offer. And so right up at the top you’ll see that we have our writing a discussion post. Offhand I actually don't know which one that links to. I know that we have another webinar, I know that we have blog post and we have pages on our website, that is going to take you to one of those.

Also, we have links to pages about critical reading. And thesis development and using the MEAL plan. All those links that you see on the right-hand side are going to help you with that reading and prewriting process also where you name your purpose and create a thesis statement and using the meal plan will help you with your raw paragraph development.

Additional things on the left-hand side, we have our webinar archive where you will find recordings of our webinar. Including this one, when it’s over. You'll find a link about scholarly voice. When I was talking about having that academic tone and scholarly writing, if you're wondering what actually counts as scholarly voice that will take you to the page that actually defines it. And also, there is a link at the bottom to outlining tips and tricks. Even in a short discussion post, it definitely helps to create an outline first. These are resources that will help you dig deeper into topics that perhaps we just looked at briefly tonight.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later

writingsupport@waldenu.edu •  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

“Walden Assignment Prompts: Leaarn the Writing Requirements”

Podcast Episode 25: A Discussion about Discussion Posts

Audio: I'm going to pause again for questions before Sarah wraps us up to see if there's anything we should talk about.

Sarah: Yes, Melissa, there was one question specifically that I thought might be beneficial for the group to hear. And that's about the length of discussion posts responses. So, you talked a little bit about ensuring that you pay attention to the prompt which generally does include those length requirements. But I wonder what your advice is for the length requirements of responses to your colleagues within the discussion board.

Melissa: Yes, this is a great question. This is the type of thing that you should first look for in the assignment instructions where it talks about responding to someone else's post. Just to see if there's a length requirement mentioned there. Because if there is, that's an easy way to find the answer.

But then if there isn't it's always helpful to ask the instructor. And there might even be a discussion board within your course where you can ask general questions like this. Because that’s the type of thing you’ll want to clarify especially if it's a consistent requirement throughout the length of the course. If your instructor is looking for one to two paragraph responses every week, you’ll want to know that and if your instructor is looking for something longer, again you’ll want something longer want to know that.

The best person to check with of course is the course instructor. Because they are the ones who are reading and verifying that these are complete. There really is no solid rule how long the response should be. You want to take that time to either look for that in the directions or ask if you can't find it.

Sarah: Perfect. Thanks, Melisa. I'm going to go ahead and wrap up. I'm going to wrap us up tonight. Thank you, all, for your great questions. They definitely kept me busy (laughing) in the Q&A box. As you’ll see on the last slide, we included a couple of resources that may be great follow-ups to today's presentation, specifically Walden assignment prompts learn the writing requirements, that webinar. And then you'll also see our podcast, episode 25, a discussion about discussion posts. So, our podcast are a nice alternative, like our webinars to all of the texts that you tend to read in the classrooms as the student who works online.

Also, if you do end up having a question that you didn't get an opportunity to ask tonight or didn't get answered tonight, please feel free to email us at writingsupport@walden.edu or you can chat with us during our live chat hours. That is accessible through our home page. You will see a brown button that says chat now and you can chat with us during those chat hours.

With that being said, I'm going to go ahead and close us out tonight. Remember to email us if you have any questions. And thanks so much for spending the hour with us. Thank you, Melissa.