Discussions

Our discussions will be written and asynchronous–you do not have to be online and contributing at any particular time.

This type of 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 many discussions this semester, and you should contribute at least two paragraphs to each one. Your contributions start with your initial assignment posting and continues with at least one detailed response to your peers’ ideas.

Initial Assignment Posting

The point of the discussions is to respond to our readings. Your posts should cite or directly quote the reading 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:

Analysis
“The authors focus so much attention on television that they miss all the ways that social media replaces television.
Synthesis
“Although they disagree about the best way to get there, Sean and Jamal do agree that the best outcome would be ….”
Evaluation
“Google’s respect for its users’ privacy should be judged by three  standards ….”

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 General Class Policies page.

As the scoring rubric (available at the end of this page) indicates, your participation will include an initial posting. Below are four “Examples of Initial Paragraphs” that respond to a discussion topic about Facebook. 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
I have never liked Facebook very much, so I hardly ever use it.
This paragraph is on topic, but it is too superficial to add to our understanding of the topic.
Example Paragraph, Score 1
I never felt a real need for Facebook until one of my oldest friends died. The idea always sounded good in theory, but in practice I never found it particularly useful or interesting. When my friend died, though, it underlined the value of staying connected.
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
Levinson writes that “getting back in touch with an old, long-out-of-touch acquaintance must be considered one of [Facebook’s] great, soul-nurturing benefits” (23). I have to agree, since I never felt a real need for Facebook until one of my oldest friends died. The idea always sounded good in theory, but in practice I never found it particularly useful or interesting. I started and stopped using the site several times, often wondering why I need to know that friend A’s car needs washing or what friend B’s restaurant entre looks like. I had known my friend for 35 years, and his long illness and his fuenral brought me back in touch with lots of other friends from high school and college. Some of them are remarkable, inspiring people, and Facbook gives me a way to keep them as a part of my life. And on a very practical level, I would not have known where the funeral was if I was not Facebook friends with his widow. For her, as for many others, Facebook is now the way one shares important information with family and friends.
This paragraph includes a direct reference to an assigned reading, good detail, and an effective topic sentence. It needs to be spell-checked, and it needs a transition that links sentence 4 to what comes before it.
Example Paragraph, Score 3
Levinson writes that “getting back in touch with an old, long-out-of-touch acquaintance must be considered one of [Facebook’s] great, soul-nurturing benefits” (23). I have to agree, since I never felt a real need for Facebook until one of my oldest friends died. The idea always sounded good in theory, but in practice I have never found it particularly useful or interesting. When my friend died, though, it underlined the value of staying connected. I had known him for 35 years, and his long illness and his funeral brought me back in touch with lots of other friends from high school and college. Some of them are remarkable, inspiring people, and Facebook gives me a way to keep them as a part of my life. And on a very practical level, I would not have known where the funeral was if I was not Facebook friends with his widow. For her, as for many others, Facebook is now the way one shares important information with family and friends.
This paragraph includes excellent detail and good organization, including an effective topic sentence.

Response Paragraphs

Remember that our readings should remain the focus of the discussion. Your response(s) should cite or directly quote your peers’ ideas about the assigned material and place them in new context through analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. You should not simply agree or disagree with another student.

Example of a poor response: “You are so right, Jane. I have stopped using Facebook also. Thanks for your post!”

Instead, here are examples  that demonstrate higher levels of thinking:

Analysis
“Robert and Jane both disagree with the textbook authors, but their disagreements are different. Robert disagrees with their conclusions, but Jane doesn’t think the authors are even asking the right questions.”
Synthesis
“Although they disagree about the best way to get there, Sean and Jamal do agree that the best outcome would be ….”
Evaluation
“Shandra makes a good point, but she misses a critical factor: if women were running Twitter, this would have been fixed long ago.”

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 Table 2 Discussion Rubric is also available as a single-page PDF file.

Table 2: Complete Scoring Rubric
Unacceptable
0 Points
Marginal
1 Point
Good
2 Points
Excellent
3 Points
Initial
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.
Response
Posting(s)
Posts no  responses to
others, or posts a shallow response (e.g., agrees or disagrees); does not enrich discussion.
Elaborates on an existing posting
with substantive comment or observation.
Posts well developed response to others that lacks full development of concepts. Demonstrates
analysis of others’ posts; extends meaningful discussion by building on
previous posts.
Content
Contribution
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.
References
& 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.
Clarity
& 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.