Discussion Forums

There will be a number of discussion forums on variety of topics (e.g. Should we legalize drugs? or What is the value of college education?). The topics will be announced during the semester and will be posted on Blackboard. To get full credit in the course you will have to write one post per forum and reply to two posts of other students.

Each post should be at least 500 words and is worth up to 6 points. Each reply should be at least 100 words and is worth up to 2 points.

A good discussion post will show evidence that you have worked through the relevant readings, spend some time thinking about the issue, and is free of grammatical errors and typos. It should not be a mere repetition of what was discussed in class (if it was), but should add to the discussion by providing new and relevant information or unique perspective. You should strive to present your argument in a coherent, clear, and scientific way. Avoid saying “I feel that this is right” or “This is wrong because I feel this way”, but give substance to your answer by following with “because” and then citing and outside resources and statistics. That is, explain to the reader what made you form your belief about the issue — perhaps a it was a statistics, or a person who is authority in this area, or you are using an analogy with another issue. Always cite your sources so that other students can access your information readily.

About the comments:

(1) If a post already has two comments, then choose another post on which to comment.

(2) These comments should be more than simply praise or a note of agreement.  I want you to interact with the claims made in the post, or with the argumentation: Do you agree or disagree, and why?  Is the author overlooking something?  You might offer further evidence for the author’s views, or else counter-evidence.  Try to raise at least one useful question for furthering the discussion.

(3) Feel welcome to comment as often as you wish on the posts; for any given forum, I’ll grade your two most substantial comments (that appear to be 100 words or more), but shorter comments are also welcome, and can add immeasurably to the conversation.

I am going to use the following grading rubric to provide you with some feedback on your work. If you want more feedback, however, you are welcome to stop by my office to discuss it me.

Discussion Forum posting

Each posting will receive up to six points:

Length (0-2 pts)

2 = at least 500 words.

1 = at least 400 words.

Content (0-3 pts)

3 = good discussion, helpful and enjoyable to read, and assertions were justified; exhibits clear evidence of having worked through the relevant readings, and incorporates those readings (where relevant).

2 = coherent discussion, possibly with minor problems of organization or understanding; or a failure to make use of class readings; or a failure to move much beyond the mere assertion of one’s opinion.

1 = serious problems in the organization, or evidence that you’ve misunderstood the topic.

Mechanics (0-1 pts)

1 = flawless writing, impeccable punctuation, with neither typos nor misspellings.

0 = presence of typos, misspellings, or poor punctuation.

Comments on Discussion Forum postings

Each comment will receive up to 2 points:

2 = appropriate discussion, relevant to the entry, and helpful (namely, you respond directly to points made in the post, either offering further evidence in support of some claim, or counter-evidence against the claim).  You raise at least one useful question for furthering the discussion.

1 = comment is helpful, but either too brief (less than 100 words), poorly justified, poorly written, or fails to further the discussion.

0 = comment is inappropriate, or else shows little evidence of having understood the entry, or else is nothing more than a note of praise or condemnation.