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Creating a good Discussion Assignment

Page history last edited by Jen Robillard 11 years, 4 months ago

Things all basic discussion boards should have:

  • Clear instructions
  • Specific criteria for a specific purpose
  • Limits - length of posts (lower and upper end) numbers of posts
  • Provoking/provocative topic
  • Opportunity for student to student interaction
  • Define evaluation criteria
  • Expectations for participation (due dates)


Things to make your basic discussion boards better:

  • provide an inclass preview
  • use media (graphics, images, audio)
  • expectations for citation (minimum URL for web citations, images)
  • initially private responses (write and submit your own before posting)
  • student facilitation
  • hyperlinks to other cites to use a reference/response


Three Major Items to Cover:


1) Setting up a good discussion board assignment.

  • The KEY: Putting instructions in the correct place - in your initial response.

No longer an issue with the new simplified discussion board template...!

2) Developing protocol that works.


  • Open-ended & debatable questions are best.  Questions that require an informed opinion, argument, or evidence are best.
  • Questions higher up on Bloom's Taxonomy are best. (Blooms Taxonomy)
  • Controversial topics are good - with caution!
  • Clear criteria is key: "Are your posts valid and succinct?" 
    • What determines if a post is valid?
      • Quality and quantity of evidence, logical reasoning, organization, use of minimum quotes from resources, reasonable interpretations of points of view,
    • What determines if posts are succinct or 'to the point'?
      • minimum word requirements, maximum word requirements, minimum and maximum number of student responses, saying more with less.
    • GUM - Proper grammar, Usage, and Mechanics must be assessed as well
  • Clear instructions and guided practice is a must - what is a threaded discussion (asynchronous) and how is it different from a chat room (synchronous). How is it different from a freeform response question?
  • School-wide policies with common Discussion Board Rubric perhaps??


3) Provide good feedback at the right time - this is tricky!

  • Too much instructor feedback too early may stifle student-student interaction
  • Too little will leave students feeling ignored and under-appreciated.
  • Err on the side of too much!
  • Make each post substantial and give strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Okay to do a bulk message, but not to students' initial posts.

Helpful resources:








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