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Writing Guide

Discussion Posts

Discussion Posts

  • Instructors use the discussions to assess where you're at in terms of understanding the material.  Show them what you know!
  • Make additional posts whenever you can.  Make sure they are substantive and engaging to others.
  • Meet the posting deadlines.  Check the Calendar to make sure you know when the Initial Post and the Reply posts are due.

Step 1: Setting up the discussion post

Your discussion post is not a paper, although it will be formatted using paragraphs.  You may want to write your post in a Word document first, so you can make changes.  Here's how:

  • Copy and paste the assignment into a Word document.
  • Break the required elements of the assignment into bullet points. This will ensure that you meet all the requirements of the assignment.  It'll also save you a lot of time.
  • Now that you know exactly what the assignment is asking of you, go ahead and start reading the material for the module.  When you find the information you need, type that into the Word document under the corresponding bullet point. Remember to put it into your own words (i.e. paraphrase). 
  • You can polish up your paper as you go along, or wait until the end when you have all your content written.

Step 2: Building the discussion post

  • Outline: You have the information you need to write your paper.  Take the bullet points with the information underneath and paste it into the APA template format you've already downloaded and saved. 
  • Start with the main points
    • You'll build your paragraphs around the main points.
      • Generally there is one main idea per paragraph.
    • Fill in details to support each main idea.
      • These will also be the bulleted elements from the beginning when you set the assignment up.
  • Mind Maps and Graphic Organizers may help you with this process.  

Remember that writing is a process.  If you get stuck as you go, utilize your resources:

  • APA Guide for help with formatting, citations, and reference page.
  • Grammarly for help with spelling, grammar, mechanics, and when you may need to cite something (plagiarism check).
  • Submit to Writing Lab to have your paper reviewed by a tutor.
    • Scroll down to see Drop Box & Rubric for Writing Submission below.
  • Utilize Learning Express for writing assistance. 
  • NoodleTools for help with creating in-text citations and reference pages.
  • View the English Composition Guide for helpful resources. 

Step 3: Review and then submit your initial discussion post

  • You're almost finished!  Double check that the assignment's required elements (bulleted from earlier) are all in your post.
  • Spell check and run it through Grammarly.
  • Look at the table below to assess what level of understanding your post may represent.  Make changes if needed.
  • Copy the post from the Word document and paste it into the Discussion Forum. Submit it.


Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Minimal Understanding

The instructor cannot really tell what you know and what you have learned.

You have done the bare minimum to get the assignment done.

Suggestions to Improve

Make sure you have addressed all aspects of the original discussion question.

Review the reading and any lecture notes. Incorporate those into your posts.

Basic Understanding

You have included specific details from the readings and lecture in your posts.

The basic assignment criteria have been met.

Suggestions to Improve

Try using concepts, terms, and examples from other classes to show that you can relate knowledge from different disciplines.

Exemplary Understanding

You have included details and specific examples and the information added supports or illustrates your points.

The instructor can tell that you have read the text, understand it, and can apply what you have learned.

You are maximizing the learning process.

Suggestions to Improve

Ask questions of your peers to support their understanding as well as your own.

Posting in the Discussion Forum

Step 4: Discussion reply posts

Your instructors want to see that you understand and can apply what you're learning.  The more you demonstrate this, the more points you can earn.

  1. Read through peers' initial posts and choose the ones you'd like to discuss further.
  2. Post substantive replies to others that include information from the reading (e.g. "This week's reading talks about the Regis Principle and how it applies to...") and connect to other course concepts. See table below.
  3. Revisit the discussion forum a few times during the week to read others' posts and reply.

Here are 3 different examples of Margo's reply to her classmate, Juan.  Which one would earn Margo the most points? In other words, which best shows that Margo understands the concept of the Marshal Doctrine and can apply it?

Margo's reply to Juan's post Levels of Margo's understanding
I agree with you, Juan. This doesn't show Margo's understanding or application of the concepts.
I agree with you, Juan. The Regis Principle is present when the officer brings the defendant in for interrogation and asks about his frame of mind. This shows more of Margo's understanding, but can be even better.
I agree with you, Juan. The Regis Principle is present when the officer brings the defendant in for interrogation and asks him about his frame of mind. The reading this week talks about how that element (frame of mind) could connect it into an evidence framework.... This shows that Margo understands the concept and can apply it.

Posting replies

Resources for Discussion Posts