One of the most crucial weekly learning activities is the Online Discussion Board Posts. Discussion Board Posts allow for peer-to-peer classroom interaction, as well as faculty responses. These responses serve as essential instances of guiding, answering questions, and commenting on progress.
In a Discussion Board Posting assignment, students are given a “prompt.” You respond with scholarly writing of at least 100-200 words. Cite your references. List your references. Then, you respond to each other, at least two others in the class (unless the course is too small to accomplish more than one peer-response). The first posts should be performed by midnight on Thursday at midnight. Responses to other students in the class should happen by Saturday night at midnight. This standard allows time to research and articulate your response and, then, have time to view others. Because of the nature of the postings and their relationship to class interaction, posts made before the module week or after are merely ineffective. Initial postings and responses must happen in the same module. Students who post after Thursday and respond to others after Saturday will lose ten points in their posts for that modular week.
How to Write the Online Discussion Board Post and Response
In writing the initial post, write with a scholarly voice. Respond to the question by demonstrating mastery of the materials for that week. It may be that the professor asks an item that is outside of the materials for a given module. In that case, the student must recognize the challenge and initiate a campaign of research to find the answer. This, too, is part of the Seminary experience. Research is vital in pastoral ministry and other expressions of a ministerial vocation.
Write a response of 100-200 words using the IDEA method of Online Discussion Board Postings (see below: “Writing A Substantive Discussion Post For An Online Class Forum,” Pateete, 2020).
Cite your references in-line (not the standard way to cite in Turabian. See “A word on using Turabian in Discussion Board Posts” below. List references cite in Turabian-Chicago style after the posting (whether the initial posting or a response to a fellow student).
Further Notes on Writing Posts
Be careful to avoid the tendency to merely applaud your colleagues. While applause is preferable to berating something that a colleague composes—which is not allowed—it is much better to write with a “scholarly voice.” A scholarly voice is demonstrated by critical thinking, theological reflection, and application. This also means that you write as a theological student engaging ideas (not persons) with assertions that are grounded in a sound source (e.g., Scripture, peer-reviewed journal article, book, etc.).
Some have even argued for a division of labor to accomplish school projects (Doniger 1999, 65). The posting continues for about 150 words.
(Note that the formatting for a Turabian bibliographic entry cannot be imported; no problem for discussion board posts, but that is not okay for research papers)
Doniger, Wendy. 1999. Splitting the difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Using Turabian in Discussion Board Posts
Turabian style does not usually use in-line text citations. Instead, Turabian utilizes footnotes to cite material. The problem with Online Discussion Board Posts is that most Learning Management Systems (e.g., Brightspace) do not allow for references in the Discussion Board posting space. So, what to do? Utilize the Turabian-Chicago “in-line” alternative ONLY IN THE DISCUSSION BOARD posts. Continue to use the ordinary way of citing via footnotes. So, in Turabian, a citation in a Discussion board, without the ability to footnote, would look like this (this is fictional):
Here is an excerpt from one of the resources below:
“Remember The Acronym ‘IDEA’ When You Write A Forum Post” (Patete, 2016)
As you are writing a substantive post for your forum, remember the acronym “IDEA.” IDEA consists of four concepts (I have added a distinctively theological way of interpreting these steps):
Identify, Interpret, or Infer the principle being learned. LOCATE THE PRESENTING ISSUE.
Define and Dissect the principle being studied. CRITICAL THINKING 1: move from the issue to a Biblical-theological perspective.
Explore and Explain the principle being studied and how you think it applies to the discussion forum. CRITICAL THINKING 2.
Analyze the concept being discussed, Apply it to a fact pattern, and Advocate a position or recommendation.” THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION (see Milton, “What is the Difference between Critical Thinking and Theological Reflection?” 2018).
EXAMPLE: DISCUSSION BOARD POSTING USING TURABIAN IN-LINE
Maggie, I appreciate the way that you handled the issue of God’s sovereignty and human suffering. You did so with both theological insight and human compassion. We all agree that the question of theodicy is a challenge to both believers and those looking from the “outside-in.” Indeed, it is often a hurdle to coming to faith. One Catholic writer would get some “amens” from the Protestant corner of the Church, as well:“The existence of suffering in a world created by a good and almighty God — ‘the problem of pain’ — is a fundamental theological dilemma, and perhaps the most serious objection to the Christian religion” (Bacz, C.S. Lewis’ Problem of Pain, 2020).
Patete, Dr. Anthony. 2016. “Writing A Substantive Discussion Post For An Online Class Forum.” Online Learning Tips. https://onlinelearningtips.com/2016/12/post-online-class-forum/.
The Discussion Board Posting is a critical part of your online learning experience. Once you master the basics of formatting, you can begin to move through the process of critical thinking and theological reflection quite quickly. What is the presenting issue? What are the underlying issues? What does God say about this? Resolve, apply, and close.
The truth is: the Discussion Board Posting is not only a way to generate “deeper learning” in your course work, but to also begin to build disciplines that will be needed for the rest of your career as a Gospel minister.
Resources: [Note: Bibliographic entries will not usually keep the original formatting; no problem for Discussion Board Posts)
- Bennett College. “Turabian Style: In-Text (Parenthetical) Citations & Reference List – Holgate Library Research Guides.” Turabian Style: In-Text (Parenthetical) Citations & Reference List. Last modified 2012. Accessed February 16, 2020. http://libraryguides.bennett.edu/home/writing/chicago-turabian-style/turabian-style-in-text-parenthetical-citations–reference-list.
- Jacek, Bacz. “C.S. Lewis: The Problem of Pain.” Accessed February 16, 2020. https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/apologetics/c-s-lewis-the-problem-of-pain.html.
- Milton, Michael A. “The Difference between Theological Reflection and Critical Thinking.” Faith for Living, Inc., January 15, 2018. Accessed February 16, 2020. https://michaelmilton.org/2018/01/15/the-difference-between-theological-reflection-and-critical-thinking/.
- ———. “The Five Habits of Highly Successful Online Graduate Students.” Michael Milton, April 11, 2018. Accessed February 16, 2020. https://michaelmilton.org/2018/04/11/the-five-habits-of-highly-successful-online-graduate-students/.
- Patete, Anthony. “Writing A Substantive Discussion Post for An Online Class Forum.” Online Learning Tips, December 15, 2016. Accessed February 17, 2020. https://onlinelearningtips.com/2016/12/post-online-class-forum/.
- “Discussion Rubrics.” Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository, n.d. Accessed February 16, 2020. https://topr.online.ucf.edu/discussion-rubrics/.
- “Guidelines for Posting to Discussion Boards.” The Writing Center. Accessed February 16, 2020. https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/guides/guidelines-for-posting-to-discussion-boards.
- “Sample Discussion Post.Pdf,” n.d. Accessed February 16, 2020. https://writingcenter.ashford.edu/sites/default/files/inline-files/Sample%20Discussion%20Post.pdf.
- “Turabian Style Quick-Guide.” The Writing Center. Accessed February 16, 2020. https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/guides/turabian-style-quick-guide.