In general, a discussion board post is a text that students write for a virtual class or an online course and is published in a relevant thread. An educational environment such as a discussion board allows learners to reflect on class material, share their opinions with classmates, and show the instructor the depth of their understanding of a topic.
What is a Discussion Board Post
It is necessary to stress teachers, as well as learners, take part in discussion boards. In some cases, instructors may choose to provide the platform for student debates and just act as silent observers. However, this does not mean that they do not track the progress and advancements students make in their knowledge. Therefore, it is crucial that learners do not ignore any posts and that they leave their answers to the questions in all online discussions.
Discussion boards are often an essential element of an online course. They can also be introduced as part of a traditional class. Importantly, discussion board posts have much in common with any other educational assignment, which means that students need to follow specific rules of academic writing and express their ideas using a formal style. Learners should always check their paragraph structure, grammar, spelling, and syntax in their posts before publishing them. Discussion board posts are not the same as messages sent via social media. Learners should always strive to be respectful toward other members of the discussion.
How to Write a Good Discussion Board Post
Prior to publishing any posts in an online educational environment, students always need to check the syllabus to understand how often they need to post their answers. It is necessary to stress that learners should always strive to write substantive texts that can be reinforced through the use of facts. Moreover, posts should be created in a timely manner so that the discussion can be productive. If all students leave their messages near to the deadline, this will result in superficial and ineffective debates.
4 Steps to Writing a Post
Step 1. Students need to understand what their board post should be about.
The following points will help them achieve a deeper comprehension of their assignment:
- Read the instructions or explanatory message left by the teacher in the relevant forum area.
- Analyze how the thread is related to the topic being discussed in class at the moment.
- Check if there are any references to be consulted or any essential reading.
- Note the main terms used in the task description.
- Identify the action words in the task directions (these are words such as “analyze”, “compare and contrast”, “evaluate”, “explain” or “summarize”).
- Check if there are any specific requirements with regards to the word count or citation style.
- Carefully read the grading rubric (if available).
- Ask the instructor questions if some of the aspects of the assignment are not clear enough.
Step 2. Learners should always go through the required reading prior to writing their posts to ensure they address relevant concepts and utilize theme-specific vocabulary. The main tasks here are as follows:
- Read the resources provided by the instructor.
- Select concepts and terms to be used in the post.
- Check the instructions to find out if the sources should be cited in the text.
Step 3. Students need to write their answers to all the parts of the prompt in a format required by the professor, for example, using an essay style, bullet points, or fully-developed paragraphs. If the assignment consists of three different discussion questions, each of them should be addressed in the post. As a rule, the reply to each question should be a paragraph long. However, it is always important to check the word count requirements. The following paragraph structure is advisable:
- The paragraph opens with a topic sentence that introduces the subject or concept to the reader.
- Then the author provides supporting details and evidence that should be integrated and referenced correctly.
- The discussion may be reinforced through the use of personal examples, which should always come after the evidence from reliable sources.
- The paragraph closes with a concluding sentence.
Step 4. The discussion board post should always end with a careful review of the written text. The author should answer the following questions to make sure they have not ignored any important aspect:
- Does the post answer all of the questions from the prompt?
- Is each of the answers at least one paragraph long?
- Is the paragraph structure correct?
- Are the word count requirements met?
- Are the concepts and terms discussed in the required reading incorporated into the answer?
- Is the evidence cited correctly?
- Has the post been checked in terms of grammar, syntax, and spelling?
Students’ posts should always comply with the citation requirements indicated by the professor in the prompt and the same style should be used throughout the entire text. It is necessary to reference the works of other authors in such cases when the writer borrows a piece of text written by another person or utilizes tables, illustrations, and provisions developed by other individuals. Moreover, it is crucial to use in-text citations when paraphrasing other people’s ideas and analyzing a source or publication. The absence of references when citing other people’s works may be considered plagiarism.
Mistakes to Avoid
Sometimes students do not regard discussion board posts as academic writing and make mistakes that can affect their final grade in a subject. Common errors that should be considered prior to publishing a discussion board post include:
- Not being thorough or ignoring some parts of the prompt.
- Including only personal experience in the reply (as noted above, individual experience always comes after reliable evidence, unless stated otherwise).
- Ignoring word count requirements (creating too long or too short posts).
- Ignoring the posts of other students; this can result in repetition of similar ideas and ineffective discussions.
Thus, it can be concluded that discussion board posts should be regarded as one type of academic writing which, although is less formal, still follows similar rules and requirements. Any post should have a clear paragraph structure and provide answers to all elements of the prompt. Moreover, the writing should be grammatically correct and include correctly cited material. Finally, students may follow the proposed four-step structure to ensure their posts meet educational standards and convey their intended messages effectively.