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Webinar Transcripts

Developing Your Writing: Creating a Paper From a Discussion Post

Presented June 15, 2017

View the recording

Last updated 7/13/2017


Visual: The webinar begins with a PowerPoint title slide in the large central panel. A captioning pod, Q&A pod, and files pod are stacked on the right side.

The slide says the title of the webinar, “Developing Your Writing: Creating a Paper From a Discussion Post” and the speaker’s name and information: “Beth Nastachowski, Manager of Multimedia Writing Instruction, Writing Center

[Slide includes an image of Beth.]

Audio:  Beth: All right. Well, hello, everyone. And thank you so much for joining us today. My name is Beth Nastachowski. I'm the manager of multimedia writing instruction and I'm really excited to be here today and presenting the webinar Developing Your Writing, Creating a Paper From a Discussion Post. I have been with Walden for almost seven years now. And I started as a writing instructor, giving students feedback on papers one on one. And then from there I have done a lot throughout the Writing Center. Right now, primarily I help with all the webinars we do. And then I also help with other multimedia resources, like our self-paced modules, and our short videos, I go to residencies, help with the website, that sort of thing. And I'm excited to be talking with you all today.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: “Housekeeping”

  • Recording
    • Will be available online a day or two from now.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Use the Q&A box to ask questions.
    • Send to
  • Help
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: So, before we get started, I want to go over a couple of quick housekeeping notes. The first is that I have started the recording for this session. So, if you have to leave and come back for any reason, or maybe you would like to come back to review the session, you are more than welcome to do so. I will be posting that recording probably by this afternoon in our webinar recordings archive. And I always like to note that all of our webinars are always recorded and posted in that archive. So, if you ever see a webinar being advertised that you would really like to go to but you just don't have the time or it doesn't fit in your schedule, please make sure to visit that archive and find those recordings. And in fact, you can find all of our webinars and the recordings there any time. So, if you're ever looking for help on a particular writing topic or issue, do look in the recordings, I'm sure we will have one that will be relevant for you.

So, today during the session, I have lots of ways for you to interact with me and your fellow classmates today. So, I have lots of chats put together. I don't have any polls, but chats. So, I encourage you to interact with us in the chats. The more you engage, the more you’ll be able to take what you’re learning and really understand it, and be able to apply it to your own writing. But additionally, note that the slides I have here are available for download in the files pod. That is at the bottom right-hand corner. So, feel free to do that throughout the session. And also, note that I have links to other resources throughout this webinar as well. So, some are other pages on the website or other webinar recordings. And those links are all live. So, if you would like to click on them and save them for you to look at later, feel free to do so. Of course, you can download slides to access links to save them for later. Either way works for me.

Additionally, I encourage you to ask questions throughout the session. So, do let me know. Or, I'm sorry, do let my colleagues, Rowland and Ellen, know if you have any questions. So, Rowland and Ellen will be monitoring the Q&A box, which is on the right side of your screen. And you can submit any questions or comments you have throughout the session, they’d be happy to give you more information or help clarify something. And I will also be stopping for questions in the middle of the presentation. So, Rowland will be letting me know if there are some questions that we can talk about aloud or that would be useful for everyone to kind of hear us talk through. So, do let them know if you have questions. But of course, if we get to the end of the session and you still have questions or, you know, you think of a question after the webinar, please make sure to email us. We are happy to take your questions via email. And our email address, or our general email address is And we will make sure to display that at the end of the session as well.

Alright. Then the last thing to note is that if you have technical issues you can let Ellen and Rowland know in the Q&A box. They have a couple of tips they can give you. But really, the help button at the top right-hand corner is the best place to go for any significant technical issues. That's Adobe Connect's technical help. So, do make sure to use that if you need some help with technical issues.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Learning Objectives

  • Talk about the role a discussion post and paper has in a course
  • Understand how a discussion post can be a basis for a course paper
  • Identify the steps for developing a paper from a post

Audio: All right. So now all that fun stuff is taken care of. Let's dive into the webinar here. So, our learning objectives for today. Today we're going to be taking a broad overview and kind of discussing how you can develop your ideas. So, this webinar in particular is kind of broad. We’re gonna be covering a lot of ground here. And that is why I have a lot of links to more specific information about specific steps throughout. But it is nice to take the sort of bird's eye view of the writing process, and how you can develop your ideas because I think it can help you kind of think more strategically about approaching your discussion posts and your course papers.

So, today what we're going to talk about is sort of the role of discussion posts and course papers in your weekly assignments. We’re also going to talk about how you can use a discussion post as a basis for a course paper. And we kind of have an example that I'm gonna sort of lead you through, as well. And then we're also going to talk about the specific steps for developing a paper from a post. So, kind of, I'm talking about once you have or are starting kind of writing your paper what that looks like as well. So, you can see we're talking about a lot of broad things here and we’re gonna touch on a lot today.

One of the things, and actually let me move to the next slide here.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Weekly Course Assignment and Writing Process

[The following points are presented in a circle, each leading to the other, with the last point. feeding back into the first point.]

  • Course resources è
  • Begin: Discussion post and responses è
  • Take the Next Step: Research, explore, & learn è
  • Expand: Write your paper è
  • Instructor feedback è

Audio: So, one of the things I want to mention is that we are talking about a very sort of specific context in the webinar today. So, many of Walden courses, especially early on in the programs, are sort of set up where you’ll start out with your learning resources or course resources for the week. Right? You get to the classroom. Most likely day one is a Monday for that particular week. And you can see the learning resources and course resources for the week that sort of help you develop understanding, and learn about the focus for the week, right. So, you kind of start there.

And then most often that week also includes a discussion post. Now, not every week includes a discussion post. But, often, they do. And those discussion posts are sort of an extension of the learning resources where you are engaging with the focus of the week in some way, right. And you're posting that discussion post by probably middle of the week, maybe Wednesday, maybe Thursday, maybe Friday. And then, often you are also asked to respond to classmates to sort of mirror the discussion you might have in a live face to face classroom setting, right.

From there, oftentimes you will then have an assignment or paper that’s due at the end of that week that is also focused on that focus of the week. And oftentimes that paper sort of expands on something that you discussed in the discussion post. So that is our sort of context for today, is those kinds of weeks where what you're doing is, you know, each step throughout the week is sort of bulding on the other. You have your learning resources, and then your discussion post builds on those learning resources, and then your course paper also focuses on that week's focus and builds off that as well. So, the idea is you’re kind of starting small and get bigger and bigger and kind of expanding your idea. So that's really the specific context we're talking about today.

Although, I want to note that really, this idea of expanding your ideas, and building your ideas, is something that we can use in all of our different kind of writing that we do. We might start out with one small idea, and then just keep building and building it. And so, even if you are working and you have a particular week where it doesn't follow this format, what we are learning about here, what we’re talking about here, the strategies we’re gonna talk about, can still be really useful, okay. So, I want to emphasize that as well.

All right. So, I already talked about this a little bit, about the sort of cycle of the week. The process that we often go through in our Walden courses each week. We start with our course resources or learning resources. And then we have our discussion posts and responses. And that is where we’re gonna start. So, we’re gonna focus on three areas today: the beginning, taking the next step, sort of the in between, the discussion post. And writing your paper is this taking the next step. Sort of researching, exploring ideas. And expanding on your ideas, and writing your paper. And then also getting instructor feedback. And then of course, oftentimes we start all over again the next Monday and the next week, right. So, we're going to focus on the three middle steps. “Begin,” “take the next step,” and “expand” in today's webinar.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat:

How do you develop ideas for your academic writing—what techniques do you use or how do you get your ideas?

[The webinar layout changes to open a chat box for students to type into in response to the chat question.]

Audio: So, to start us off I want you to think about this and respond in the chat box. How do you develop ideas for your academic writing? What techniques do you use or how do you get your ideas? And any responses are welcome here.

[Pause as students type.]

All right. So, a lot of you are mentioning “from your experience”, which is fantastic. I think that is one of the great things will Walden students is that many, if not most of you, are going for your degree in a field where you are already working. So, maybe you are a nurse and you’re going for your master's in nursing. Or maybe you are a social worker and you’re going for your doctorate in social work, right. Many of you have your experience and so you can use that experience to help you generate ideas and apply it to what you're reading and learning in your courses. That's fantastic.

Some of you mentioned reading the required articles. So, the learning resources or the course resources. That is also fantastic. And that is one of the goals, right, of those learning resources is to help introduce you to the focus of that week but also to help, you know, expose you to new ideas, and help you think of new ideas that you might not have thought about before as well. That is fantastic.

Often… a lot of you are mentioning by taking your notes as you are doing those… looking through those learning resources. That is fantastic too. That's a great thing to remember. And we are not going to talk about note taking really very much today. But that is definitely part of the process here, right. That as you’re reading things you want to make sure that you’re engaging with them and getting ideas. And as you’re taking notes, even jotting down your own ideas you come up with is a great idea, as well. Wonderful.

Okay, and so then some of you mentioned… so, a lot of you mentioned learning resources but some of you also mentioned going to the library. And also, the questions posted by the instructor. And that is one thing I want to mention, is that we’re gonna also talk about how to expand ideas beyond what you’ve already kind of thought of based on personal experience or based on the learning resources, too. So, we're going to talk about that as the middle step in between our steps, too. Fantastic.

Great. This is really helpful, everyone. I hope that this is useful in just sort of thinking about how you generate your ideas. What we’re gonna focus on, like I mentioned before, is sort of where you start from with the discussion post, which might be some initial ideas that you start with, and then how you expand and develop those ideas more. And then how you, you know, use those expanded ideas and present them in a paper itself, okay. So, sort of the whole process we are talking about today is about sort of generating and developing and expanding ideas.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Begin: Writing and Responding to a Discussion Post

[Slide includes a screen shot of the assignment submission link in Walden’s classrooms.]

Audio: Let's move on. And we're going to start at the very beginning with our discussion post. So, this is the beginning. We're going to write and respond to discussion posts, of course.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Students write discussion posts to…

  • Evaluate authors
  • Develop ideas and arguments
  • Show understanding of resources
  • Explore questions

All to prepare for papers

Audio: And what I want to emphasize here with discussion posts is that the purpose of discussion posts could be different depending on the assignment, depending on the week, depending on the course. So, there is no one size fits all sort of approach to discussion posts or purpose. But often discussion posts can be used to do different things, depending on what the discussion post is asking you to do. But also depending on what you would like to do in the discussion post. I think one thing I like to emphasize is that discussion posts often give students a lot of latitude in what they want to explore, what ideas they want to present, what ideas they want to develop and kind of work within the discussion post. So, keep that in mind, too, that you can often think about, you know, what is my purpose in the discussion post and kind of guide it that way, too.

But, in your discussion post you might be evaluating authors you have been reading in the learning resources. You might be developing your ideas and arguments. So, you might say, you know, I have sort of this one idea that I have been thinking of. And I'm going to use my discussion post as a way to sort of develop that idea further. And even as a way to get feedback from my classmates on my idea, right, because your classmates will be responding to your discussion post. Sometimes discussion posts are simply showing your understanding of resources. This is most often in early courses in your program where you are just kind of showing your understanding if you are learning a lot of new theories or concepts. That might be the purpose of that particular discussion post. But you can also explore questions, too, in discussion posts.

So, I encourage you to think of discussion posts as a place to show your understanding but also as a way to generate ideas, explore ideas, and explore those questions, too. If we can think about it that way, not just as a hoop we have to jump through or something we have to complete, if you really think about your purpose of discussion posts, then it can be actually really useful for this last part: to prepare for your paper. Because it is sort of like an intermediate step, right. If all you had to do is read things, and then write a paper, you might not have a chance to develop ideas or kind of let those ideas kind of percolate in your brain or have a chance to test them out in a discussion post or have your classmates respond to your ideas, right.

So, discussion posts are kind of meant to be that sort of intermediate step between your learning resources and the course paper. And it really can only be that way if you really engage with the discussion posts. So, I know you all are quite busy. And I know there is just so much you have to do every week for your courses. The learning resources, and the discussion post, and the paper, all due within a week. But it really is helpful if you can try as much as possible to, like I said, engage really purposefully with that discussion post and use it with the idea in mind that I want to use this as a way of a stepping stone to my course paper.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: In the post…

  • Practice academic writing:
    • Make a claim
    • Organize logically & develop paragraphs
    • Support with evidence
    • Proof for grammar and APA
    • Avoid informal language
  • Test out ideas:
    • Reflect on your own experience
    • Apply the learning resources to a new context
    • Analyze and critique what you’re learning

More tips: “Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts”

Audio: So, and I apologize that the text here at the very bottom right has kind of disappeared a little bit. But in your post, a couple of tips for you. So, first. Make sure that you are practicing your academic writing in your discussion post. And I say that because it is really helpful to think about discussion posts kind of like mini papers. They often can be a little bit less formal because they're not quite as long. And sometimes, depending on the post, you might be asked to do more reflection in a discussion post than you would be a course paper, but I still really encourage you to practice it… or, I’m sorry, to approach it like practice for your paper.

That means, you know, approaching it by making some sort of claim. Having even just a mini thesis statement for your discussion post can be really helpful. Really pay close attention to organization. Presenting your ideas logically and developing clear paragraphs is really helpful. I have seen students who have really lovely, clear paragraphs in their papers that they submit to me as an instructor, but in their discussion posts the paragraphs are a little more disjointed or kind of run together. But in your discussion post, you can still practice sort of that clear development of paragraphs.

Also, support with evidence in your writing, as well. Even if the discussion post is asking you to reflect on your own experience, pair that with some sort of, you know, support from the course learning resources that support your experience.

Proof for grammar and APA as well. Present, you know, sort of a polished draft. It doesn't have to be exactly perfect, you know. I think as close as you can to getting it perfect is great. But it is good to make sure that you are proofing for the minor grammar errors and also incorporating and practicing your APA in your discussion posts. That will present a sort of nice and clean discussion post to your classmates and to your instructor but it will also help you practice those APA rules. And then avoid informal language. Of course, like I said, you might have more reflection, and more of your own experience in a discussion post versus a course paper. But you still want to avoid contractions, you know, avoid all caps or exclamation marks, those sorts of things as well. Make it personal and personable. But not, you know, really informal either.

In your post, as I mentioned last time or in the last slide, you know, test out your ideas. Reflect on your own experience. Compare your experience to what you have been learning. Ask questions. Apply the learning resources to your experience or apply them to a new context. Try, you know, try out these new ideas. And also, analyze and critique what you are learning. If something doesn't match with your own experience, you might use that to kind of critique what you are reading as well and ask questions.

We have a lot more detailed information about discussion posts individually that you can learn about, and that's what this box is, it’s a link to our webinar on discussion posts. So, I do encourage you to check it out if you would like more examples of discussion posts and our recommendations for them as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Think of posts as dipping your toes into the pool in preparation for jumping into your paper.

More tips: “Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts”

[Slide includes an image of someone, showing just their feet, standing at the edge of a swimming pool.]

Audio: So, I think I’ve already kind of talked about this, but really what I want you to do is think about discussion posts as sort of dipping your toes in the pool. Right? Before we jump into a pool on a nice hot day, we need to check the temperature, and see how it is going. So, you dip your toes to kind of test it out. And you can think about discussion posts in the same way. You’re kind of dipping your toes into learning the focus of the week or engaging in the focus of the week. And then you are going to kind of jump all the way in with the paper. And again, the more purposeful you can be on this, the better it will really sort of end up being. And the stronger your ideas will be in the course paper at the end of the week, as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat:

Think about a time when a discussion post has been helpful to you in your thinking or writing process. Complete the following sentence:

The discussion post was helpful in my thinking or writing process because _____________________.

[The webinar layout changes to open to a chat box for students to type into in response to the chat question.]

Audio: Alright, so, we have another chat here. Thinking about discussion posts. And I would like you to think about this and then respond in the chat box. Think about a time when a discussion post has been helpful to you in your thinking or writing process. Then complete the following sentence: “The discussion post was helpful in my thinking or writing process because...” And go ahead and finish that up. I will be quiet for a minute while you all respond.

[Pause as students type.]

All right. Yes. So, what I'm seeing, which is really great to hear because this is really the focus of discussion posts, right, is to have a discussion with your classmates. And a lot of you are mentioning that your classmates and their responses have been really helpful in challenging your perspective, in helping you to see other sides of an issue or think outside the box. They’ve helped to give you feedback on what wasn't clear or where there might be holes in your assertions or arguments. It’s giving you insight, yeah, that's fantastic. Some of you are also saying that your discussion posts help you organize and focus on the topic of the week. That's fantastic, right. So, you are reading these learning resources. And the discussion post is kind of a way for you to reflect on what you are learning. And not reflect by you saying, like, I learned about X, Y, Z, but to help you think about, okay, I'm learning or I’m reading these different articles. How can kind of I bring them all together in a discussion post. It is kind of forcing you to engage in the focus for the whole week in a different way than you would if you didn't have to write a discussion post, right. Yeah.

A lot of you are mentioning that it gave you a jump start on your paper, which is great. That is exactly what we want to hear in this presentation. And a few of you are mentioning that the discussion post required you to research the topic, too. We're going to talk about research next. But sometimes it might be that to write your discussion post you actually need to realize that you need to go find out more. And that is also a great way that the discussion post forces you to kind of engage with the topic of the week as well, yeah.

Awesome. A lot of you are saying another perspective. It gave you a challenge or challenged you to think about the topic in a different way. And some of you are mentioning that your professor, or your instructor, gave you different feedback and that was helpful too. So again, you can think of it as sort of a test. Right? You’re dipping your toes in the water. And for your instructor, then, this is a chance for your instructor to kind of point you in the right direction if you are kind of going not quite where you should be. That is also helpful, right, because it can help you see you are on the right track, as well. Yeah, that's great. Wonderful.

Well, this is really good to hear. I'm feeling very good about this. I feel like you guys are all in a good place when thinking about discussion posts. And many of you are already doing what we want you to do, which is great. One other thing, you know, I would just say, is that the discussion post can also kind of force you to think about where you have questions about the topic of the week. So, some of you mentioned researching. It prompted you to do more research. But it might also prompt you to have questions. And I’d also encourage you, I don't have these on any of my slides, but I’d also encourage you to ask your instructor those questions. So, I know as a teacher, and someone who teaches classes at Walden, if students have questions about the topic of the week or the focus of the week, when they’re writing their discussion posts, I would rather hear it then rather than at the very end of the week when they are working on the course paper because that could maybe clarify something early on, point them in the right direction, you know, that sort of thing. So be sure to also think about what questions you might have about the content that you are learning and letting your instructor know right away what those questions are since that is what the instructor is there for too, as well, yeah. Wonderful.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: The Continuum

Discussion Post: Post by Day 2 an evaluation of what you think is the most significant positive aspect and most significant negative aspect of Schmitt’s classroom management strategies. Give examples of where Schmitt’s methods might be effective in your classroom and why.


Application Paper: Consider a scenario in which you are recommending your entire school take on a classroom management approach from your course readings. Submit by Day 7 a 3- to 4-page paper that includes the following:

An explanation of the method you would use to educate fellow faculty on your approach including:

how you would manage meetings,

what materials you would provide,

and how you would take resistance into consideration.

Audio: Okay, I'm going to move on here. I hope it was helpful in thinking about this. Here is an example for you of a discussion post and how it could relate to an application paper. And when I say application paper I just mean like the paper that you would write at the end of the week. Sometimes it is called a course paper. Sometimes it's called your weekly paper. Many different names. But the last, you know, that assignment you do at the end of the week after the discussion post. So, I’m gonna read these to you and just kind of point out how they build on one another. Because it is helpful to think about that. If you are not doing it already, I encourage you at the beginning of the week to take a look at the learning resources, but also preview the discussion posts and the paper that you have to write. By previewing them, even though you won't start working on them for maybe a day or two, you’ll kind of get an idea of what the learning resources are, how they relate to the discussion post and your assignment and how that assignment and discussion post relate as well, okay?

So, the discussion prompt says “post by day two an evaluation of what you think is the most significant positive aspect and the most significant negative aspect of Schmidt's classroom management strategies. Give examples of where Schmidt's methods might be effective in your classroom and why.” So, in a discussion post like this, right, you could easily see how the main things that we want to talk about are the significant aspect, a negative aspect of this classroom management strategy, and giving examples. In the application paper for that same week, it might say the following: “Consider a scenario in which you are recommending your entire school take on a classroom management approach from the course readings. Submit by day seven a three- to four-page paper that includes the following: An explanation of the method you would use,” and that would include “how you would manage meetings, what materials you would provide and how you would take resistance into consideration.”

So, you can easily see how this post, where you are thinking through and kind of showing your understanding of these classroom management strategies but also relating it to your own classroom, will help you then think through ideas and develop those ideas for the application paper. Right? We can see how the two things really build on one another. And that is what you want to watch for in your weekly assignments.


Visual:  Slide changes to the following: Research: Find more evidence

[Slide includes an image of a pathway through shelves packed with books.]

Audio: So, let's say you have done your discussion post. You've responded to that initial post. You’ve developed those ideas. You’ve gotten great feedback from the instructor and from your classmates and now you want to find out more. Because most often what we are learning in our learning resources or what ideas we’ve explored in our discussion posts won't be really big or as detailed enough that we need for the course paper, right. If we go to the previous slide here you can see this discussion post is probably only going to be one to two paragraphs. Sometimes discussion posts are a little bit longer, but most often the discussion posts I see are no longer than three or four paragraphs, right. The application paper, though, is three to four pages. And so, it needs more information. As a writer, I know I need to get more in depth. I need to include more details, those sorts of things. So, we need to find more research. We need to kind of look up more things, that kind of stuff.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Research: Outline Discussion Post

Do a reverse outline of the discussion post where you make a bulleted list of main points.


  • Schmitt’s strategies, summary
  • Positive—creates trust between teacher and students
  • Negative—could isolate students

Ask yourself: What parts of my post could I use in my paper?

Audio: And one thing you can do to help you think about what more you need to research is do a reverse outline of your discussion post. Where you sort of say, okay, what did I discuss in my discussion post. So, let's say in the discussion post that we just wrote for those previous examples we talked about Schmidt's strategies for classroom management. We summarized them. Then we talked about a positive aspect of strategies. Maybe one that helps create trust between teachers and students. And then another that was negative, which could isolate students. And then we want to ask ourselves what part of our post could I use in my paper, and where would I need to learn more information. So, you can kind of do a reverse outline to help you think through this and to kind of help you, you know, get a list that can help you start with your research.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Outline Discussion Post Practice

Sample paragraph:

I have used many of Schmitt’s (2016) classroom management strategies in my own classroom. One strategy that has worked well for me is allowing students to decide which assignment the will complete from a list of choices. This approach ensures students are engaged in the assignment while still maintaining high standards (Schmitt, 2016). I have observed a negative result of this strategy, however. Sometimes this strategy can isolate students since each student is working on a different project. Another strategy Schmitt recommended is sending summary reports home to students’ guardians. While this strategy creates more work for me, it also ensures students’ guardians are engaged in the classroom too.

Chat box: What are the main points of this paragraph that we can keep aside for a later assignment?

[The webinar layout changes to open a chat box for students to type into in response to the chat question.]

Audio: So, let's say I have… whoops, sorry. A sample paragraph. And we're going to think about what are the main points in the paragraph that we could keep aside for a later assignment. I'm going to open another chat box. And as I do, I’m gonna read the paragraph aloud for everyone. So, this is the discussion post paragraph. “I have used many of Schmidt's 2016 management strategies in my own classroom. One strategy that has worked well for me is allowing students to decide which assignment they will complete.” I apologize, a typo there. They will complete from a list of choices. “This approach ensures students are engaging in the assignment while maintaining high standards. I observed a negative result of this strategy, however. Sometimes the strategy can isolate students, since each student is working on a different project. Another strategy Schmidt recommended is sending summary reports home to students' guardians. While this strategy creates more work for me, it also ensures students' guardians are engaged in the classroom too.” So just think about what are the main points that we can pull to use in a later assignment. I will go on mute while everyone responds.

[Pause as students type.]

I’ve got a lot of great responses so far. If you are still typing, keep going, keep responding. We will kind of do a little wrap up here, and summary and discussion, in maybe just a minute or so.

[Pause as students type.]

Awesome. Feel free to continue to submit. I'm going to go ahead and kind of do a summary here a little bit. And then let's see what we have here, okay. So, a lot of you are mentioning just sort of an outline of the post, really, right. So, one of you… a lot of you are mentioning that there's the strategy that worked well. So, strategy that worked well. Which is this idea of student choice in assignment, right. So that is one thing. And then why that strategy worked well. So, that is sort of a sub point. Then our second point is the strategy that worked well. The other one. Sorry, guys, I'm trying to both read and type at the same time. This is probably not the greatest approach but we'll try this. Strategy that worked well. The second strategy. We'll number these. How about number one. Then number two. Second strategy that worked well is the summary reports to students' guardians. And why that strategy worked well also. And then under point one we also talked about a negative of the strategy. So, we have sort of a brief outline of this discussion post. And you can see how if we had a paper that we were, where we were asked to talk about, you know, Schmidt's strategies, and sort of like how they can be used, we already have a kind of nice outline. We have number one and two. Two different strategies. We have a bit more information about strategy number one.

And so, the next thing that we’re gonna talk about is kind of questioning what you have already got. And then how it can change. And that is what we’re gonna look at next. That, actually, we might say, okay, based on this outline I see I have got some good information or ideas from number one. But my point number two, I don't have any sort of, you know, I have a negative of this strategy. But I don't have a solution to this strategy. So, you can kind of look at your outline and think about the gaps that you have, and the places you can expand your ideas, or maybe where you need to learn more, as well. So, using this outlining, and kind of identifying the main paint points from your discussion post will help you kind of think about the ideas that you’ve already discussed a little more and kind of make a plan of action for what you want to do next.

Yeah. Well, yes. Thanks, Deb. No contractions except my contractions in my outline. That's fine, right. This is more just for me, yeah. All right.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Research: Identify Gaps

  • Review learning resources
  • Consider your own experience (as applicable)
  • Follow the reference list of what you’ve read
  • Visit the Library

Ask a Librarian:

[Slide includes a screen shot of the library’s website.]

Audio: So, let's keep moving here. So, let's say you decide, all right, so I know about these strategies that Schmidt has talked about. But I need to learn more about how to mitigate the negatives of these strategies. Or maybe I want to learn about other people and how… whether they found the strategies to be helpful too. So, you might review the learning resources again and those notes that you took and see if there is any other learning resources you could incorporate with Schmidt. You might also consider and include your own experience.

Of course, this discussion post and lots of… many of you mentioned using your own experience in your other discussion post, so maybe you are already doing this. But you might also think about whether you have any other experience you could include. And I say here that your experience should be included as applicable because it really depends on the assignment prompt. So some assignments are gonna be more formal and will require you to rely on the learning resources or on other research you find. But some other assignment prompts might ask you for more reflection and in those cases your experience might be more applicable. So, do pay attention to the assignment prompt. And that's helpful, you know, another reason why you should take a look at the assignment prompt for your paper before you do your research. But some assignment prompts will be better to use your own experience versus others. And if you are ever not sure, make sure to ask your instructor. So, if you look at your assignment prompt and you're not sure if you can use your experience, be sure to ask the instructor. Because he or she will definitely know that.

You can also look up research in the library, of course. And I have it in a different color because the library is so important at Walden. So, Walden, of course, has a fantastic online library. And beyond the learning resources that it provides, there is also lots of other peer reviewed research articles, books, chapters of books, you know, all the those sorts of things you can find at the library. If you ever are not sure about what to find or where to find it or you are having trouble finding something, make sure to reach out to librarians as well. They are fantastic people.  And they have an Ask the Librarian Button. But they also have an email address that you can email and they would be happy to help you find some research if you need it.

One other tip that I will give you, too, about finding research is you can also follow the reference list of what you have read. And this was something that was given to me by one of the librarians. A great tip. And she said, you know, if you find an article, maybe you find the article Schmidt wrote about those classroom management strategies, go ahead look at Schmidt's reference list. And see who Schmidt refers to and cites in their paper and maybe you can find those articles and those would be useful for you as well. So, use the work that the other researchers have already done to kind of give you, you know, ideas about research you could find. So, research. Identify the gaps. And look at that research.



Visual: Slide changes to the following: Research: Identify Gaps


  • Student choice in assignment = engaged students
  • Student choice can also lead to isolation
  • Summary reports to guardians = engaged guardians
  • Summary reports = more work for the teacher

More Research:

  • How could I avoid student isolation when giving students choice in assignment?
  • Is there a way to make summary reports quicker to create?
  • Is there research to show how not using these strategies negatively affects student and guardian engagement?

Audio: So, we’ve got sort of our outline of our discussion post. And these are maybe the questions that I came up with that I might ask myself. You know, we already talked about student choice. And summary reports. Maybe I could in these questions, I could look up, you know, how can I avoid student isolation when giving student choice in assignments. Maybe someone has already researched this and has, you know, a solution for me or some suggestions. Is there a way to make these summary reports quicker? So, is there a way to address that negative factor? Is there research to show how not using strategies negatively affects students and guardian engagement? So, I say that student choice in summary reports are really helpful to improve engagement. But what happens if I don't use these? What negative effects will that be? So, these are some of the questions I could come up with that could sort of prompt and guide my research.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Explore: Generate more ideas

[Slide includes a picture of a map, compass, and camera.]

Audio: So, you want to do that research. But before you write your paper, there is still more idea development that you want to do. And these are where you’re gonna want to kind of develop your actual ideas based on the research that you’ve found and discussion post you have already done. Actually, I’m sorry, I'm going to pause before I go to this. Because this is our next big section. We're going to talk about pre writing and then going into actual the writing of your paper. So, before I do that, I gonna pause, acutally, here. Rowland, were there any questions in the Q&A box that would be helpful for me to address aloud or anything that would be, you know, you think would be helpful for me to talk more about?

Rowland: Hey, Beth. Yeah. I have, there’s one question perhaps that might be beneficial is: With regard to academic integrity, without opening a whole new can of worms, how, I guess, possible or viable is it for someone who is constructing a paper to just copy and paste content from a post? You know, just using the exact wording, and what have you?

Beth: Yeah, that's a great question. So maybe you have written a discussion post and you really like what you have written. You developed a really good idea and that sort of particular idea fits into your larger ideas throughout your entire post. That is a great place to be in because it means you are doing exactly what we are talking about here. That’s a fantastic problem to have. Generally, though, we want to dissuade you or I want to discourage you from copying and pasting that discussion post paragraph right into your course paper. And the reason is, A, your instructor might not allow you to do it. Sometimes instructors may allow you to do that, but that is certainly something you would want to ask your instructor about and get their permission before you would do that.

But generally, I would recommend not doing it because your paper is sort of a separate piece of idea. It’s a separate… it's an entirely separate, I guess, product or… it’s a separate paper than your discussion post. And what you want to do instead is to use the discussion post as sort of a first draft. But then strengthen and improve those ideas in your paper. Maybe you talked about, you know, these strategies that we have been using as our example in the discussion post. But based on the research that you have done and these pre writing strategies we’re gonna talk about next, you actually have a better idea about how the strategies can be used because you've sort of engaged with the ideas even more. So, I would just say, you know, generally I would avoid copying, pasting your discussion posts into your paper because you want the paper to be a more developed version of those ideas. And if that is something you are thinking about doing, make sure to talk with your instructor. I would not want your instructor to see it and kind of be like, oh gosh, this isn't what we wanted you to do. And for you to get, you know, feedback from them about that after you hand in your assignment. So, yeah. It's a great question. I'm glad we addressed it. Thank you so much, Rowland, for voicing that. I hope that makes sense. Do let Rowland and Ellen know if you have further questions about that, for sure. Okay.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Explore Ideas

Chat box:

What strategies do you currently use to brainstorm, develop, and expand your ideas?

[The webinar lay out changes to open a chat box for students to type into in response to the chat question.]

Audio: All right. Let's move on, then. I already previewed what we're gonna talk about next is these ideas or ways that you can generate more ideas. So, you have done your researching but now we want to talk about actually generating ideas of your own based on that research and that you can include in your own writing. So, I want to hear from you first. What strategies do you currently use to brainstorm, develop, and expand your ideas? And that could include reading research. But beyond just reading the research, how do you then go from research to idea? That is what I want to hear. and I have suggestions for you too but I thought I would crowd source from you all before we begin.

[Pause as students type.]

A couple people mentioned brainstorm, which is great. But what strategies do you use to brainstorm? Do you… how do you go from sort of nothing to something is, I guess, the question.

[Pause as students type.]

Yeah, fantastic, all. You guys have some great ideas. I’m gonna make these a little bit bigger here. And then let’s talk through them. Feel free to continue to submit your responses if you would like. But what I want to mention are a couple things, some of which I have in my next slide but some of which are new that I didn't have, so this is great. A lot of you mentioned concept mapping. Concept mapping is sort of a great approach. It is sort of a visual way to outline, which can be really helpful. Actually, yeah, no, we'll stay on this slide here. Sorry. So, concept mapping is this idea of sort of starting with a main topic and then generating ideas based off of that. Kind of, you know, in little, I guess they're called nodes. But lines that go off that. And you have sub points and everything. And sort of a visual way of outlining. And so, a lot of you mentioned concept mapping, which is great.

Some of you mentioned outlining, as well. And outlining refers more to sort of the hierarchical way that you kind of outline your ideas. And you can kind of rearrange them, and sort of put them in order. I think concept mapping and outlining are very similar. But often people who are more spatial like concept mapping and people who like lists are more outliners. I'm an outliner. I'm definitely a list person, so outlining really helps me. And similarly, some of you mentioned taking your notes and sort of organizing them. And I would consider that a form of outlining, as well. When I go to generate my own ideas, I might take my notes, start with an outline but then kind of fit my notes into that outline to help me create that outline, as well.

A lot of you mentioned other research. So, someone, I think tongue in cheek, was saying Google. But a lot of you mentioned researching and using research to help you generate ideas. And I think that's great, as well. One thing I would say is that we're kind of thinking about these pre writing strategies as a next step after researching. And so, if you don't already sort of do some of the other things after you research, I recommend you try it out. Try adding another step between researching and writing which can help you generate ideas, and kind of organize your ideas before you start writing, as well.

A lot of you mentioned applying the research to real life and asking questions, which is great. I have a strategy that I'm going to talk about next which is called free writing. And using these questions can be really helpful in that strategy. And so, I’m gonna point that one out. And then also a lot of you mentioned talking to other people. So, talking about what you’re learning with classmates, with coworkers, with friends, with family members and that can help you generate ideas, as well, which is fantastic. A lot of people really are verbal processors. They process and generate ideas as they talk about them. And so, this could be a really helpful technique for you, as well.

And then a couple people mentioned rewriting just sort of ideas, but also rewriting notes. That can be a helpful way to sort of generate ideas. And that is fantastic too. So maybe you have your notes on paper and then you go to type them up. And as you’re typing those notes up again, you generate ideas because you are kind of looking at what you are typing and everything. That is fantastic, too. So, this is a great list.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Explore Ideas

  • Mindmap
  • Outline
  • Freewrite
  • Take a Break

Learn more: “Prewriting Techniques: Taking the Next Steps” and Prewriting page

Audio: I just have a couple of things to add to them. Let's see. Concept mapping and mind mapping are really about the same thing. And we already mentioned outlining. But free writing is another strategy. And this is that strategy where those questions can be helpful. So, free writing is the idea that you generate ideas as you write. And actually, it is really similar to the idea of rewriting your notes. It is kind of in between.

But free writing is, it can be done many different ways. The way I recommend or the way that works really well for me, is I generally start with a question or a focus. and I have a blank piece of paper, either, you know, print with pen and paper, or a blank Word document. And I put my question or my focus at the very top. And I set a timer for about 15 minutes. And then I just start writing. I start the timer, and I start writing. And I don't stop. And that means that I'm writing and a lot of what I am writing might be gibberish, it might be a stream of consciousness, me just trying to kind of get ideas on the page. But I just keep writing. And then at the end of 15 minutes I stop and I look over what I have written. And I see if I have generated any ideas or something I want to keep or something that sparked something in me that I can then use in my paper. So, that can be useful, as well.

And then the other one that we didn't really talk about was taking a break. Generating ideas happens over time. And so, at the very end of the session, I have some recommendations, or really one big recommendation, about really thinking about time, or giving yourself time throughout the week. Giving yourself time means that you can take a break. And go take a walk or go do something else or, you know, just sort of step away from your computer for even five minutes. Even half an hour. It can be helpful in just sort of letting those ideas that you have been thinking about just sort of sit in the back of your mind. And then when you come back fresh, you might even have new ideas. You know, I think a lot of us heard those stories about where, you know, isn't it Isaac Newton who was under the apple tree and all of a sudden, the apple fell, and he was like "gravity," right? He was kind of taking a break. Right? He wasn't in the lab. He was just out under a tree. A lot of times ideas happen when we are least expecting them and we are focusing on other things. So, I think I got that story right. If I got it wrong, I apologize. But the main point here is just that our minds keep thinking about things as we're focusing on other things, sort of mindless tasks, and you can use that to your advantage to generate ideas, as well.

Alright, I might have just revealed how little I know about science and history, so I apologize if I got that wrong.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Explore Ideas

New Paper Outline

Thesis: Schmitt’s (2016) strategies of student choice in assignment and summary reports lead to increased student and guardian engagement in the classroom.

  1. Student choice in assignment
    1. Summary, description (Schmitt, 2016; Carter, 2017)
    2. Advantages (engagement, better learning)
    3. Disadvantages (isolation)
      1. Mitigating isolation—Refer to new articles I found (Soto & Gonzalez, 2016)
  2. Summary repots to guardians
    1. Summary, description (Schmitt, 2016; Mathur, 2015)
    2. Advantages (engagement, better informed)
    3. Disadvantages (more work)
      1. Mitigating more work (Department of Education suggestions)

Audio: All right. So here is an outline for that paper that we have been working on from the discussion post to the paper. Maybe what I did is, I did some free writing. I had already done some research. I found some more information. And then I wanted to create an outline. I told you guys I'm an outline person. So, I created an outline for the paper that’s based on that discussion post. And I wanted to start with the thesis statement. So, a statement of what I'm going to argue or show in my paper. And then I have my two main focuses. Summary, or I’m sorry, student choice in assignments. I’m gonna talk about that. And then summary reports to guardians. And under that, under these two main points I might have a paragraph for each of my different points here. I’m gonna summarize this particular strategy, including a description. And I listed a couple sources. Schmidt but also maybe Carter 2017 that I found during my research. I'm gonna talk about the advantages to this learning strategy, and the disadvantages. And I even included some ideas for how to mitigate this isolation disadvantage based on research that I found, right during that researching phase. And then I'm gonna do the same thing for point number two.

And from here, right, in this middle step, by doing this, between my researching and my writing, I have sort of a road map for how I want to write my paper. And I can also look at this and see, to make sure that I have included all of those great ideas I developed in my discussion post, in my research, that I found all those sorts of things.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Expand: Write!

[Slide includes a picture of Russian nesting dolls.]

Audio: So of course, now we get to the last step of actually writing your course paper.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write Your Paper

  • Use your mindmapping, outlining, freewriting, notes, etc.
  • Be sure to include an introduction, body, and conclusion
  • Take time to revise and proofread
  • Return to your discussion post if needed
  • Ask your instructor questions!

Learn more: Life Cycle of a Paper and Revising

Audio: And I don't have a lot of real specific information here because we cover the idea of writing your paper in so, so, so many other webinars. And in particular, I have included a couple links to our revising webinar and our life cycle of a paper webinar that can be useful for you. But just a couple of recommendations. Remember to use that pre-writing that you did. Yeah. Don't create a mind map and the forget to use it as you’re writing. Make sure you use it.

Be sure when you’re writing your paper to include an introduction, body, and conclusion. In a discussion post you might decide that you want to have a really short introduction and a really short conclusion along with the body. That is really, I think, up to you as the writer. It doesn't hurt to practice that in a discussion post. But I know often instructors don't require it. So, it's up to you in a discussion post. But in a course paper make sure you include those required academic components.

Take time to revise and proofread, of course. And return to your discussion post if you need it. Return to that research and the pre-writing that you did. And again, ask your instructor questions. Hopefully you asked your instructor questions after you wrote your discussion post and as you were engaging earlier in the week, but be sure to ask your instructor questions that you have as you’re writing your paper, as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Final Recommendation: Give Yourself Time

[The following points are presented in a circle, each leading to the other, with the last point. feeding back into the first point.]

  • Course resources è
  • Begin: Discussion post and responses è
  • Take the Next Step: Research, explore, & learnè
  • Expand: Write your paper è
  • Instructor feedback è

[Slide includes a picture of a classic, twin-bell alarm clock.]

Audio: So, before I kind of wrap up and then we do final Q&A here, I want to do some final recommendations. And, of course, my text got a little cut off here. I apologize. But just remember that this is sort of a week-long process. And it should all build on one another. From the course and learning resources, to your discussion post, to that research, and exploring that you do, to the writing, and then of course your instructor feedback and you start all over again.

But the other thing I want to really emphasize is that it really helps if you can try to give yourself time. I know at the beginning of a week, especially as you are in the thick of your courses it can be really tempting to wait to look at the learning resources until Wednesday and write your discussion post right away on Wednesday, and then wait for your course paper until Saturday. But if you can try to space that out throughout the week and start working on things earlier in the week, what you will be able to do is space that out and give yourself that needed break time and that time to think through your ideas, generate those ideas, but also revise and proof and, you know, all those sort of things, as well. So, I know time is all our enemy, as well. But, the more you can kind of be proactive and work on things, you know, each night, each night work on a little bit of the next assignment, that can be really helpful in this overall process, as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Activity & Chat

  1. Consider a discussion post you wrote recently--last week or the week before.
  2. Did you use it to develop ideas or complete that week’s paper?
  3. If so, how did you use it? If not, how could you use this webinar’s strategies to use it?

[The webinar layout changes to open a chat box for students to type into in response to the chat question.]

Audio: Okay. We actually have one more chat that we’re gonna do. And then we’re gonna do Q&A. So, consider a discussion post you wrote recently. Maybe it was last week or the week before. Maybe it is this week. I know we’re at Thursday already. But did you use it to develop ideas or complete that week's paper. And if so, how did you use it? If not, how could you use this webinar's strategies to use it. Just think about what we've been talking about and how you have already been using these strategies or could use the strategies in the future.

[Pause as students type.]

Alright, we’ve got some great responses so far. Keep typing, keep submitting. But it is great to hear a lot of you are gonna use strategies that we're already using, or I’m sorry, the strategies that we talked about today. Someone mentioned that they like the just overall idea of the continuum from discussion post to application paper. A lot of you mentioned outlining. Pre-writing. Yeah. That's fantastic, yeah. Concept mapping.

Ah, yes. Someone mentioned starting earlier, starting on things on day one rather than day three. I know I'm a procrastinator but I always feel better when I can break up my week's assignments or my week's sort of tasks and do them throughout the week in smaller chunks, right. That makes me feel more productive and it helps me feel less rushed, yes. And building that paper around the discussion post. Yeah.

And of course, I do want to mention that maybe in your discussion post you find out the idea you presented isn't something you want to build your discussion, or I’m sorry, your course paper on. That's okay too. Right? It is all about exploring those ideas, and testing the waters. So, maybe you just find that you need to go in a different direction. And at least you found that out in your discussion post and not after you spent a lot of time writing your paper. Yeah.

Take more breaks. Ah, wonderful. Yes. Be kind to yourself. 15-minute free writing, fantastic. Awesome. This is great. I'm going to have you guys continue to respond here. I see many other people are still typing. And I want to give you the chance to do that. But we have about five minutes left here.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions

Now: Let us know!


Continue the conversation on Twitter with #WaldenU or #WaldenUWC

Looking for more tips on writing a discussion post? 

Check out the recorded webinar “Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts” and “Life Cycle of a Paper”

Audio: And so, I wanted to answer any last questions that people have. So, Rowland, were there any questions that have come in since we last stopped for questions or recently that would be helpful for me to address?

Rowland: Yes. You mentioned, I guess, just recently, time management in beginning writing early. How would one go about, you know, with regard to time management, incorporating the Writing Center's paper review services into the writing process?

Beth: Ah. That's fantastic, that’s a great question. So, the Writing Center's paper review appointments, just so everyone knows what those are, those are a chance for you to make an appointment in one of our writing instructors' schedules, like Ellen or Rowland, and submit a paper for their feedback. And the goal of the Writing Center appointments isn't to give you a grade, of course. It is not meant to judge your writing in any way or that sort of thing. The goal is to help you develop that paper and your writing skills overall. And so, what would be so helpful is if you are working on time management, and trying to get things done earlier, is that you can actually submit a draft to the writing instructors before you submit it to your instructor and then use the Writing Center's feedback to make changes. So, let's say you're able to get a draft, it can be a first draft, it doesn't have to be a final draft by any means, doesn't have to be polished or perfect. You could submit that draft maybe earlier in the week and then you can get some feedback from the Writing Center on that draft before you hand it in to your instructor.

Now I do want to emphasize that if you can't make that, if you can't get your paper in before the end deadline for that week, you can also submit your papers that you’ve already handed in to your instructor to the Writing Center. And the writing instructors will give you feedback you can use in your next paper, as well. So, don't think that just because you are finished with a paper and won't revise it again that you can't submit it. You still can. And we will give you feedback on your writing that you can then use in your future papers. We of course, as humans, are creatures of habit and that means we are also writers of habit. And so, getting feedback on past papers can be just as helpful in your current writing, too. Yeah, that’s a great question. And for more information about the Writing Center's paper review appointments, just go to our home page. And there's a big paper review button on the home page that will take you to all that information as well, yeah. Anything else, Rowland, that would be helpful to address?

Rowland: I guess, just quickly, you mentioned the discussion post should be, I guess. formatted as mini essays. Does that mean including an introduction and conclusion in my discussion post?

Beth: Yeah. Great question. You know, there isn't like a 100% yes or no answer to that particular question because it often depends on context, I would say. I think it never hurts to add a short introduction and a short conclusion to your discussion post. It is good practice. And I don't think it hurts at all. Although, I also don't think all faculty require it as something that’s necessary either. So, if you are ever unsure, you know, go ahead and ask your instructor. And you know, you can always practice it. It doesn't hurt anything. That's what I would say. So maybe.

Rowland: Excellent. That will do it. Thank you so much.

Beth: So, well thank you so much, Rowland, and Ellen, for being in the background and answering everyone's questions. I really appreciate everyone coming today. I hope that this was useful. And I know this is a broad, we're talking in broad strokes, kind of, about writing and the writing process, and sort of your course assignments throughout the week. But I hope this was useful and will kind of get you jump started in thinking about this for future weeks in your courses. And have a wonderful day, everyone. And we hope to see you at another webinar coming up soon. Happy writing, all.