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Discussion boards are a great way to encourage team or group interaction, especially for online courses. Peer-to-peer interaction can be encouraged by students responding to a prompt. Students can then interact with each other based on their responses. Or, you can assign a prompt that each student can read and respond to. This can be used to encourage peer-to-peer interaction. Whatever the purpose of your discussion board activity you want, students should be thoughtful, thorough, and insightful. Cengage faculty partners share their tips for creating online discussion board prompts.
Before you create your prompt consider the information that will be useful to students. For example, the discussion prompt might need an introduction to remind students of something they have discussed or to explain a complex concept.
Keep in mind that students will respond to your prompt in a variety of ways. If you ask students to explain the three theories behind X (something within your discipline), they will all respond the same way and will be at a low level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Open-ended questions can be used to ensure variation and allow students to provide personal examples. Another option is to ask students to read different articles.
You should ensure that students can’t respond to your prompt without reading the assigned work or reading the relevant material. This can be achieved by asking students to provide references and asking them to back up their responses with information they have learned in class.
Don’t ask for too many details in one thread. Only address one topic or issue per thread. You don’t need to answer many questions. If your answers are short, it’s fine to include a, b and c parts. If this is the case, ask students to label their responses with a, b and c. Students will have many threads to respond to and you can help them organize their work. If you feel you are asking for too much information in one thread, you might need to rethink the activity and assign it an assignment. You might also consider splitting the content into multiple threads.