How to Write a Discussion Post

In this article, learn how to write a discussion post that will further the conversation and get you a good grade.
Allan T
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Oct 28, 2021
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How to Write a Discussion Post

2020 and 2021 have been pretty rough for everyone. Different organizations have had to make a lot of changes because of lockdowns. Students who couldn't physically go to school have had to adapt to different kinds of learning methods. You can view a lecture online or have a zoom class but it's tough to recreate all the in-class experiences. With students having to attend school from home and the rise of remote learning, discussion posts have become increasingly popular. In this article, you will learn what a discussion post is, how to start a discussion post, and how to write a good one.

What is a Discussion Post?

A discussion post is an online board where students can engage with each other and discuss a topic. Discussion posts are meant to recreate the feeling of a lively in-class debate. Discussion posts give students the opportunity to talk in-depth about a subject by allowing them the time to do extra research and relating it to current affairs and personal experiences. 


Discussion posts are a vital part of online learning and make up a significant portion of students’ final grades. Most teachers assign a weekly discussion post question or topic and students are expected to reply to the main question as well as reply to a few of the other students’ posts. In some ways, discussion posts are better than in-class debates because everyone has a chance to voice their opinion and students can take their time doing research and coming up with interesting viewpoints. 

Research

You may be tempted to just write whatever you know about a subject but it is important to do any required reading before answering a post. If it is a topic that you find particularly interesting, you should research the topic online and make connections between the required reading and current events. As you do your research, make personal connections to the topic. This will make your post both relevant as well as interesting, fueling the discussion and getting you a good grade.

Understand the Discussion Prompt

It's easy to go off-topic when typing on a keyboard, but this can derail the conversation and will hurt your grade. Think about these things when reading the discussion prompt.


  • What is the purpose? Carefully think about the exact question you are supposed to reply to and identify the best way to get information about it whether through textbooks or online research.
  • What are the specifics? Pay careful attention to things like due dates, word limits, the expectation for the number of posts and replies, citation style, formatting, and the kinds of sources that are acceptable. Some discussion posts might allow Wikipedia, whereas others ask for better sources.
  • How should you respond? Is the prompt best answered by relating a personal experience, presenting an argument, comparing and contrasting different ideas, finding a solution to a problem, etc?
  • How will you be graded? Make sure you understand what the teacher is looking for and how you will be graded. you may have an excellent discussion post but you don't want to lose points because of something silly. Ask your teacher and go over the guidelines to know what the expectations are. 

How to Start a Discussion Post

A good discussion post invites discussion and has arguments backed by evidence. You can develop a strong argument by carefully reading the discussion prompt and researching the topic. A well-developed argument considers both sides of an issue and provides evidence through citing reputable sources.


Another way to start an interesting discussion post is by making connections to personal experiences. This can make an academic subject more relatable to other students as well as offer a different perspective on the topic.


Don't just regurgitate information found in the required reading. Do some extra research and bring a unique perspective to the discussion. Surprise other students by presenting a controversial idea and give them something to respond to. 

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Write a Draft

Like any kind of writing it's good to start with a draft. If your course management system doesn't have a spell-checker then consider constructing the draft on a word editor like Microsoft Word. 


Think of a discussion post as a mini-essay. You can start with an introduction highlighting your main points, followed by body paragraphs that answer a specific sub-question or provide evidence for different claims, and end with a conclusion that brings it all together. Have a look at an introduction discussion post example to get an idea of how to structure a post.


A discussion post is an academic assignment but it is supposed to mimic in-class discussion.  This means that you can keep the tone conversational but you should make the language formal, and any argument you make must have properly cited evidence. 


You should focus a discussion post on the main topic while answering as many secondary questions as possible. Give each secondary question its own paragraph with a topic sentence and connect it to the main topic. 


Remember, a discussion post needs to be informative but also interesting and engaging. The goal is to write a post that many other students want to reply to. Present your ideas clearly and concisely but be unique and show a different viewpoint.

Review 

It's important to review the draft before posting. Apart from checking for spelling errors and formatting mistakes ask yourself the following questions.


  • Have I correctly identified the main topic or question being asked?
  • Does my post stay on topic?
  • What is the unique viewpoint that I have brought to the discussion?
  • Have I correctly cited each piece of evidence?
  • Does my post flow logically?
  • Does my post show that I have done extra research?
  • Have I related the topic to a personal experience or current news?
  • Does my post invite further discussion?
  • Would I reply to a post like this?
  • Have I checked for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, formatting, etc?

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How to Write a Discussion Post in APA Format

An APA style discussion post is the most common unless otherwise specified by the teacher. APA stands for American Psychological Association and is one of the most common citation styles for writing. An APA format discussion post has a unique style of in-text citation as well as a references section at the end. Let's take a look at a few examples.


For a book

Climate change must be thought of in a broader way than the typical western-centric idea. The differences in developing countries make it a more complex issue that must be understood (Baker, 2021). 


References

Baker, S. (2021). Revolutionary power: An activist's guide to the energy transition. Island Press. 


For a website

Despite International conventions regarding climate change and many promises, carbon emissions from rich countries have risen rapidly in 2021 (McGrath, 2021).


References

McGrath, M. (2021, October 14). Climate change: Carbon emissions from rich countries rose rapidly in 2021. BBC News. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58897805. 


For a YouTube video

Studying glaciers has proven that the climate change we are going through now has been unprecedented for millions of years (Crash Course, 2021).


References

Crash Course. (2021, May 4). What is climate change? crash course geography #14 - youtube. YouTube. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMwFNMfjFuU. 

To Sum Up

Discussion posts are supposed to replace in-class debate. And while this is not completely possible - there are some specific advantages. Students get a chance to do research and carefully construct a response, shy students have a chance to express their viewpoint, and students can benefit from links to external educational sources. 


Writing a good discussion post is all about making a strong argument backed by credible sources, trying to bring a unique perspective on a topic, and making a statement that people want to engage with. Make sure you understand the discussion prompt, that you stay on topic, and that you follow all directions and instructions. If you ever need any help with a discussion post or with any type of homework the experts at Studyfy are always around to lend a hand!