Asynchronous discussion enhances learning as you share your ideas, perspectives, and experiences with the class. You develop and refine your thoughts through the writing process, and you help to broaden your classmates’ understanding of the course content.

We will have a discussion approximately every other week, and you should contribute at least twice to each one. Your contributions start with your initial assignment posting, discussed below. In addition, you must engage with at least one other student’s post, offering a substantive response that meets the criteria outlined in “Table 2: Complete Scoring Rubric” below, under “Follow-Up Posting(s).”

Initial Assignment Posting

The point of the discussions is to respond to our readings and screenings. Your posts should cite or directly quote the assigned material and offer a thoughtful response that places its ideas in a new context through analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. Here are examples that demonstrate these higher levels of thinking:

“Some common themes I see between your experiences and our reading are….”
“Although they disagree about the best way to get there, Sean and Jamal do agree that the best outcome would be ….”
“Although Jay Z  has sold more records, Nas is the more talented rapper in the two areas that really count….”

Please note also that all of your contributions must be original. Plagiarism on anything in this class, including the discussion postings, is grounds for failure in the course. If you don’t already know how to recognize and avoid plagiarism, consult a college writer’s handbook before turning anything in. For more information, see the policies page for online and hybrid classes.

As the complete scoring rubric (below, in “Table 2”) indicates, your participation will include an initial posting. The paragraphs in Table 1 each respond to one of our early discussion topics. They are meant to give you a better idea of the ways I will evaluate your initial postings.

Examples of Initial Paragraphs

Example Paragraph, Score 0
The Freedom Riders story is really inspiring. I hope to be able to do something similar some day.
This paragraph is on topic, but it is too superficial to add to our understanding of the topic.
Example Paragraph, Score 1
Freedom Riders like John Lewis are really inspiring. He is my Congressman today, and I liked what he said about the uprisings in Ferguson.
This paragraph includes three concrete details, but it’s too thin to add much to our discussion. It also makes no reference to our readings, which is a mandatory part of the assignment.
Example Paragraph, Score 2
John Lewis is my hero. He is my Congressman today, and for fifty years he has dedciated himself to the service of all Americans. I knew that he was in the front lines at Selma, but untill I watched Freedom Riders I had no idea that he had already been beaten and jailed many, many times before the Selma campaign in 1965.
This paragraph includes a direct reference to an assigned film and an effective topic sentence. It needs to be spell-checked, and it’s main point could be better developed using additional details and examples drawn from our assigned texts and films.
Example Paragraph, Score 3
Don’t get me wrong. I think Freedom Riders is an extraordinary film. It moved and educated me, and it convinced me that these college students, who sacrificed so much for all of us, deserve to be celebrated alongside heroes like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. But I have to say that I was disappointed by the way the movie ended. In chapter 2, Sasha Torres writes about the documentaries made by TV networks in the 1960s, when official policy insisted that “social and political problems pertaining to a minority should always be presented in terms of their importance to the majority”—in other words, to white people (Torres 44-45). Sixty years later, Freedom Riders’ ending takes the same tack, I think for the same reasons. The film wants to reach a large audience, and then as now this means crafting a message that flatters white people. So rather than giving the Black activists the final word, it focuses on the white students and on the ultimate white hero: John F. Kennedy. The film’s point is that the Riders changed JFK’s perspective on civil rights, and I believe that this is true. I just don’t think that this should be the final word in a film dedicated to a group of unsung American heroes.
This paragraph includes excellent detail and good organization, including an effective thesis. (In this case, the paragraph’s thesis appears in sentence four, instead of the first sentence, which is the more typical pattern.)

Evaluating Your Participation in the Discussions

The table below demonstrates how you may earn up to 18 points for each discussion. Use its feedback to improve the quality of your discussion contributions. The rubric is also available as a single-page PDF file.

Table 2: Complete Scoring Rubric
0 Points
1 Point
2 Points
3 Points
Assignment Posting
Posts no assignment. Posts adequate assignment with
superficial thought and preparation; doesn’t address all aspects of the task.
Posts well developed assignment
that addresses all aspects of the task; lacks full development of concepts.
Posts well developed assignment
that fully addresses and develops all aspects of the task.
Posts no follow-up responses to
Posts shallow contribution to
discussion (e.g., agrees or disagrees); does not enrich discussion.
Elaborates on an existing posting
with further comment or observation.
analysis of others’ posts; extends meaningful discussion by building on
previous posts.
Posts information that is
off-topic, incorrect, or irrelevant to discussion.
Repeats but does not add substantive
information to the discussion.
Posts information that is
factually correct; lacks full development of concept or thought.
Posts factually correct, reflective
and substantive contribution;
advances discussion.
& Support
Includes no references or
supporting experience.
Uses personal experience, but no
references to readings or research.
Incorporates some references from
readings and personal experience.
Integrates references to
readings and personal experience to support comments.
& Mechanics
Posts long, unorganized or rude
content that may contain multiple errors or may be inappropriate.
Communicates in friendly,
courteous and helpful manner with some errors in clarity or mechanics.
Contributes valuable information
to discussion with minor clarity or mechanics errors.
Contributes to discussion with
clear, concise comments formatted in an easy to read style that is free of
grammatical or spelling errors.
No posts, or single post on final day. Two or most posts, all on final day. Single post before final day. Two or more posts, on different days.

These directions extend and develop a rubric first created by Dr. Barbara Frey.