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Promoting Interaction Through Discussions: Part 3 Responses

Promoting Interaction Through Discussions: Part 3 Responses Image generated from "asynchronous learning," Adobe Firefly, 05/13/2024

Karen Kortz, Professor, Physics and Engineering

Discussion boards can help students connect with each other to form a community within online courses. Therefore, they can address the federal requirement of including Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI) and OSCQR Standards 29, 30, 31, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 47 in online courses. These OSCQR standards, in part, satisfy OSCQR Level 1 and 3 reviews. 

In Parts 1 and 2 of this blog on discussion boards, I included examples of prompts that promote social interaction and metacognition and examples that promote cognitive activities to address the course learning outcomes. In this final post, I give examples of how I try to promote quality student responses to other student’s posts. 

I divide students in my online courses into smaller groups of ~10 students. I give each group a name that relates to the course (e.g., Team Playa). I expect them to post and respond only to other students in their smaller groups. This helps them to make stronger connections with the other students and not be overwhelmed with too many posts to read. I ask them to reply to 3-4 of their classmates (within their smaller groups), encouraging quality over quantity. 

I give students specific directions and expectations for the responses. I tell the students that their responses should be thoughtful and add substance to the posts (e.g., more than “I agree!”), and I give them a minimum number of sentences required. The response prompts vary depending on the original prompt, but they are consistent between discussion boards. Here are some examples of response prompts I ask students to choose from to write their responses to other students: 

  • Picture (add a picture illustrating your classmate’s post and include where the picture is from and an explanation of what it is) 
  • Connection to another classmate’s or your post (I also see that…) 
  • Additional information (I researched that…) 
  • Course connection (I see in the learning resources (be specific about the page or video) …) 
  • Extension (I want to learn more about…) 
  • Question (I wonder why…) 
  • Answers (answer classmate’s questions)

Using these prompts, students can choose what they want to focus on in their interactions with other students. I find that allows most students to express themselves in a way that they are comfortable with and support each other. 

I grade discussion boards using a rubric that is full credit (meets expectations) or half credit (partially meets expectations) for the post and their responses to other students. I let students know what they did to meet expectations so they can continue to provide quality posts and responses. I also let students know how they should improve their posts or responses and give them the opportunity to do so. 

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