How to Write a Discussion Post
Welcome back to the blog! Mary and Emma here!
At the Writing Center, we provide help for all disciplines of writing -- even short assignments like discussion posts! As classes tend toward online formats, we want to make sure every student is equipped to answer any writing prompt they may be confronted with. We asked Abby Duggar, one of our tutors, to help us come up with some strategies to efficiently and effectively answer your shorter writing prompts. Let's see what she had to say!
Imagine this: You have decided to take an online class. As you open your laptop, you see a notification from Canvas saying that you have a discussion post due at 5pm that day. You know that your teacher wants you and your classmates to answer these questions fully, making sure that each part is covered. When you open the Canvas page, you see 2 articles and this question:
What do Jones and Meyer claim in their article about working environment conditions? How does this differ from the claim made by Freeman and Trivett? What do the two articles agree on? Which article do you think is more accurate for today’s workplace environments?
At first glance, this prompt can look intimidating - it contains 4 different things to think about. But, you got this, so let’s dive in.
First, let's take a look at some steps to help make this process easier:
Steps to Writing a Discussion Post Answer:
1. Read the Materials
2. Gather Information
a. What looks interesting? What stood out to me?
c. What are some new things I learned? What did I already know?
a. What information can be linked together?
b. What can I use to make this claim stronger?
4. Eliminate and Refine
5. Write & Submit
a. Write down your response. Answer all the parts of the question.
Steps 1 and 2: Read & Gather
The first and second steps listed above go hand in hand - read the 2 articles and make a list for what each article says that is relevant to your prompt: for this one, anything that is about workplace environments. In addition to your reading materials, make sure you understand each part of the prompt. In the example, there are 4 separate questions. Be sure you understand the difference between these questions and that you have enough information for each one. What do you see that makes you think? Did you already know some of the information? Did you learn anything? Keep the findings from each article separate for now - just gather all the information you can, but jot down any connections you might see to help you with the next step.
Step 3: Brainstorm
After you have compiled your information, take a look at it again, and sort the information by which part of the question it would fit best with. What do Jones and Meyer claim? What about Freeman and Trivett? Are there any points both articles agree on? What do they disagree on? Look for statements that are opinions or conclusions. Once you do this, you should be ready to answer all of the questions in the prompt.
Step 4: Eliminate & Refine
Now for step 4. Look at your information and decide what point your information is telling you. Is there any information that seems irrelevant to your argument? In discussion posts especially, responses have to be short, which leaves only so much room to put information. That means you have to be intentional with what information you include. If you can cut it and still have a clear, well-supported answer, then cut it!
Step 5: Write & Submit
You have read your articles, gathered your information, and gotten rid of the irrelevant bits. All there is left to do is put your answer together. Make sure you aim for any sentence requirements in the assignment but that each sentence is saying something meaningful. Feel free to add a sentence or two to a section if you feel like it needs a bit more support, and answer with your own opinion.
Remember, the point of a discussion post is for you to discuss what you learned. Referring to this example, make sure you add why it is relevant or not to the modern workforce. This is not something that you can answer from the article; this part comes from you.
Once you have written your answer, look over it one more time.
Make sure there that you have not accidentally skipped a part of the question.
If necessary, cite all of your sources.
It is critical to do all parts of the prompt before you submit!
Finally, submit the assignment.
And just like that, you are done. YOU DID IT!!
Thank you so much, Abby! We hope this helped you to develop a writing strategy for your discussion posts so that they will take less time while helping you process information well.
Until next time,
Mary and Emma
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