Establish the Ground Rules for Good Discussions
Before a discussion begins, you should communicate procedures and expectations for participation. Some expectations can be communicated in the description of each discussion assignment. Others should be shared through course policies and the course syllabus. You can also give examples of exemplary responses to help students know what you expect.
Important points that you should communicate to your students include:
- Provide clear instructions on how to participate in the forum.
- Netiquette: Remind students that discussions are public and that you expect their contributions to be professional and respectful.
- Let students know what you consider to be the minimum and maximum length of their responses.
- Inform students that you expect them to respond to one another, and tell them how many responses are required.
- Establish a deadline for participating in the discussion. Some instructors set two deadlines: one for a student's initial response and a second for the student's responses to other students.
- Communicate how the discussion will be graded. Ideally, you should use a grading rubric that you can share with your students.
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Continue to the next page for considerations on creating a good discussion question.