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Creating Effective Discussion Forums

A discussion is only as good as the prompt that begins it.

  • A good prompt promotes the sharing of ideas.
    • The prompt does not solicit a single right answer or correct response.
    • A comprehensive answer or response is unlikely to be arrived at by any student individually, using information and concepts already know. Rather, a comprehensive answer or response arises collaboratively and cumulatively as the discussion progresses.
  • A good prompt can be adequately addressed in the allotted time.
  • A good prompt uses concrete, specific examples and case studies, when appropriate.
  • A good prompt communicates expectations, often through a rubric. Such expectations may include mechanical and logistical expectations (for instance, the length and quantity of posts) but often focus on editorial expectations:
    • responsiveness to the prompt
    • quality of writing or level of discourse
    • use of secondary sources
    • addressing or incorporating posts made by others
  • A good prompt provides detailed, specific instructions for participating in the discussion, including deadlines.