May 04 2019

How to Write and Respond to Discussion Posts

Adela Belin photo Adela Belin Content strategist and writer
Knowledge Cell

Unlike a traditional classroom setting where you get to have regular face-to-face interactions with your instructors and classmates, in an online classroom, interactions happen via discussion board assignments wherein students are required to write discussion posts to put forth their thoughts and ideas.

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Discussion posts are the way in which instructors and students interact in an online class. Think of it as a classroom discussion - the only difference here is that instead of voicing out their opinion, students are made to write it.

Did you know that one major advantage of online education is that it tends to pull shy students out of their shell by having them actively participate in discussions that take place in online courses? This is what makes discussion posts an integral component of online classes.

Original: SourceWith the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, many schools and colleges are taking their classes online. If you’re in the same boat, you ought to know how to write discussion posts while adding value and staying professional.

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In this article, you’ll learn about how to write a strong discussion post along with how to respond to your classmates’ posts on the board.

How to Write a Strong Discussion Post

Considering the fact that discussion posts are written, you need to ensure everything you post needs to be professional, well-thought-of, and meaningful because your grades depend on it.

Wondering how to craft the perfect discussion post? Here are 6 useful tips to help you stand out in your online course.

Understand the Prompt

Preparation is key. Make sure you read the discussion post prompts and guidelines carefully before you start your research. Refer to libraries, course material, eBooks and other online sources to be well-versed with the topic so you can take a stand and present a strong argument.

It’s essential to keep a tab of all the external sources that are relevant to your response as you will be expected to integrate them in your answer. The more research you do, the meatier your post and subsequent responses will be.

Refer to the Scoring Rubric

Every discussion board ought to have a scoring rubric. While most instructors share it with the students beforehand, you can always ask for it if you haven’t received one.

Once you get your hands on the rubric, the trick is to work backward. Read the scoring rubric thoroughly and understand how you will be evaluated. Pay special attention to what the prerequisites for scoring the highest grades are - that is what your post needs to reflect.

From critical analysis and writing quality to class participation and etiquette - the online discussion scoring rubric covers all these aspects.

So, before submitting, make sure your discussion post has all the elements to score well.

Present Evidence and Examples

Just the way you’re told to back up your claims while writing essays, the same holds for writing discussion posts too.

Every claim you make needs to be backed by strong evidence and examples. Using evidence in your arguments strengthens it and lets you put forth your point more effectively.

The different types of evidence you can incorporate are statistical, anecdotal, documentary, or even results after carrying out your own research or survey.

Make sure you use quotations while stating evidence or cite the original sources accurately. You can also choose to paraphrase a section of a text and put it across in your own words.

Here’s a video by Greta Kishbaugh on how you can add value to your discussion posts

Draft the Answer before Posting

Many students make the mistake of immediately writing the actual post on the portal and hitting ‘send’. Call it confidence or laziness – either way, this approach is not advisable.

It’s a good idea to draft the discussion post on a text editor tool before you choose to send it. This gives you time to assess the writing flow, make corrections, and ensure you have covered all the key points. Pay close attention to your tone of voice and language.

Even though discussion posts seem like participating in online forums, they are after all an academic form of writing and need you to be professional.

Express Yourself Clearly

You might think writing pages for a discussion post will get you noticed but that is not true. Regardless of the length of your post, what matters most is its quality and the insight you provide.

Very rarely do you get a second chance to explain yourself in online classes. Hence, it is important to express yourself with the utmost clarity in the first instance. How do you do that?

Start with organizing your list of ideas before drafting. Use simple language with accuracy and stick to only answering the question. Make sure you avoid repeating yourself and going around in circles.

Respond in a Timely Manner

Every discussion is time-bound. You don’t want to be one of the last to respond, have nothing unique to offer, and get hidden under all the other posts – all of this can have a negative impact on your grades.

Hence, as soon as you are asked to send a discussion post, ensure you get working and aim to be one of the first few to send in the post. Once you have posted your response, you can focus on responding to others and build on their arguments.

As per Brian Redmond, a senior lecturer within the psychology department at Penn State, participating at the deadline does not make for a thoughtful and informative discussion which completely beats the purpose of discussion forums in online courses.

How to Respond to Discussion Posts

A huge aspect of being part of online classes is responding to your classmates’ discussion posts. The way you choose to reply will impact your grades and the impression you want to make.

Remember - it’s a discussion. Students are not expected to make their individual points and sit back. You’re expected to fuel the discussion, find new angles and take it forward in a productive way.

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind while responding to discussion posts.

Be Respectful

Just the way you are expected to be courteous and polite in any public forum, the same is expected out of you in an online classroom.

From not taking disagreements personally and responding to them politely to using professional, academic language as opposed to slangs, jargon, and emoticons – it’s important to respect everyone’s opinions and the medium while interacting.

Before writing anything controversial, think whether you would say the same in real life – if not, it’s best to keep it out of your discussion post. You need to be sensitive to people’s gender, culture, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs.

Another simple yet critical point to keep in mind is making sure you do not use ALL-CAPS because that comes across as rude and appears as though you’re screaming.

Original: SourceYes, that’s exactly what you should not do.

Make it Meaningful

Firstly, making statements like “I completely agree with you!” or “Good post” is an absolute no-no. This is not a mutual praising society. Instructors want to know your unique point of view here and you need to be able to put forth a strong argument with substantial evidence to back it up.

Even if a classmate has posted something you resonate with, you can begin by saying that you agree with them and then go on to add your unique perspective or relate it to your life experience by sharing an anecdote. You cannot be a yes-man or silent spectator; you need to think of ways to build on that conversation.

Speaking of evidence, given the medium, feel free to attach a video, audio clip, or link that supports your argument.

Write in Context

While elaborating on your agreement or disagreement, ensure you keep it contextual and make correlations to your syllabus and what you’ve learned in the course. It’s a good idea to pinpoint which aspect of your classmate’s post are you responding too - it just makes it clearer for everyone involved.

Many students have a habit of digressing and writing lengthy posts that add no real value. This just diverts attention and makes for an unnecessary read. You don’t want to be that student.

So, while drafting a response, write it in context and make it relevant to the prompt and area of discussion. There are no points for length, there are points of insightful and valuable responses.

Ask Questions

It’s always a good idea to end your response with a probing, open-ended question that takes the discussion forward. You can ask a thoughtful question to understand the logic behind someone’s explanation or a follow-up question to have a classmate elaborate on their response.

Asking questions shows you’re genuinely invested in the discussion and are interested to take it forward. That being said, your questions need to encourage people to think and add value.


At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your discussion posts and responses are being watched and will have an impact on your grade.

So, whether it’s doing qualitative research, drafting a well-structured post or maintaining decorum, you need to put out accurately crafted, original and insightful posts in order to make a positive impression and stand out.

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last edit at Oct 06 2022