Nearly half of your grade is based on your participation in
the discussions so it is very important to understand what they are about
and what is expected of you.
They are the "heart" of this Philosophy class because they
are the area in which the ideas are exchanged and through INTERACTION with
your instructor and classmates a dialectical process of thought is to be
It is your responsibility in this course is to participate in the on-line
Discussions. This document provides instructions on how to initiate and
respond to these discussions. You can also return to the MANUAL in TOOLS
section for a "refresher".
You should be entering the discussions on at least three
different days each week in order to allow for INTERACTION
You should be responding to each discussion forum topic and
get involved in at least one student lead discussion in each module.
You should at least attempt to lead one yourself.
Important Note: Student-led discussions are not informal "chat rooms!"
Your questions and answers should be focused on the course content. Every
post should contribute some substantive information.
The Student-led discussions are "threaded discussions". This means that
the contributions made by the participants will "line-up" so that when you
look at the list, you will see an outline of the discussion and you will
be able to see which responses go together by how far they are indented.
In order for this system to work, each participant in the discussion needs
to know how to do 2 things:
1. Responding to the main item - this is how you answer or ask your question for
2. Responding to the
assignment document: Every discussion begins with someone starting a new
thread in response to the main question posed by the instructor. Whenever
anyone wishes to start a new discussion this is how it is done. Just
click on ADD a NEW THREAD. Be sure to give the new thread an
appropriate title in the SUBJECT space.
3. Responding to someone else's response: If you are reading someone
else's question, or any other response document in the Student-led
Reply by clicking on the "reply" button - this is the one to choose to
respond to the document you are currently reading. If you use the person's
name as the "subject" of your response it will be easier for the rest of
us to follow the discussion thread.
Submitting your response: When you have completed typing your response,
click the "Submit" button at the bottom of the page.
As the discussion is of a public nature, please observe proper
"netiquette" -- courteous and appropriate forms of communication and
interaction. This means no personal attacks, obscene language, or
intolerant expression. All viewpoints should be respected. Also, DON'T
TYPE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. That's called "shouting" on the web, and it
is considered rude.
Note: Submissions to a
Student-led discussion after the module end date are welcome, but they
are not included in the evaluation of your course activities.
see the module and take the review quiz here.
The questions you ask in the Student-led discussions should
be thoughtfully developed and carefully worded. These questions should
address issues and/or concepts from the reading that you find particularly
important. I will use the following 5 criteria to evaluate your questions:
a. Relevance - your question must be relevant to the
material in the unit of study.
b. Importance -
your question must address a significant issue in the chapter.
Thought-provoking - your question must require high-level thought, not a
simple "look-up" in the textbook.
d. Originality -
you must not ask a question that is essentially the same as a question
posed by another student.
e. Timely - Your
question must be posted early in the Module so that the other students
have an opportunity to respond and you have time to facilitate a good
Your responses to questions posed by me and by the other students
will be evaluated, and quality points awarded, based in part on the
following 6 criteria:
a. Is your answer correct?
b. Is your answer
c. Is your answer
focused - to the point?
d. Is your answer
e. Is your answer
f. Is your answer
Note: Only responses that
demonstrate Social Presence, Cognitive Presence, and/or Teaching Presence
will be awarded quality points. See below for more information.
In this course,
each student is responsible for leading at least one discussion thread
within in each module-not within each discussion topc. The quality of your
discussion thread can be influenced by the feedback you give to the
students who post to it. Three things determine the quality of a
1. The quality
of the initial discussion question you ask.
I have given some specific
guidelines above. I will quality points to your question. The better your
question is, the more points it will receive. Note: If you do not submit
your question on time (that is, within the first 2 days that the module is
active) no points will be awarded.
2. The quality
of the response posts.
Some students will make thoughtful and informative posts to
your discussion, and some will give minimal responses. I grade the quality
of the posts, and that grade influences your grade in the course. However,
you should provide feedback to students too. If a student posts a
high-quality response, you should tell them. And, if a student posts a low
quality response, you should tell them.
3. The depth of
the discussion thread. Discussion "depth" is determined by how many
indents there are.
If you ask a question, and a student answers, that is a
"level 1" discussion. If you reply to the student - now it's a "level 2"
discussion. If the student gets back to you - now it's "level 3". If
another student joins in and responds to the students last post - now it's
"level 4". The more indents - the "deeper" the discussion thread. Of
course, if the posts are low quality, depth is meaningless.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON STUDENT
What is a low
quality post? A low quality
does not teach us anything, or contribute anything positive or substantial
to the discussion. Examples of low quality responses: any response which
is biased, prejudicial, off topic, or is unsubstantiated / any response
which is carelessly typed, poorly thought-out, grammatically incorrect or
confusing / any response which is disrespectful of another student or any
other person, etc.
What is a high
quality post? A high quality
response teaches us something, or adds something positive and/or
substantial to the discussion. It contains information from the textbook
or another valid source, or applies a concept from the text or a
legitimate website in a meaningful way, or facilitates understanding of
the course material. The best posts not only introduce new ideas or
knowledge, but help us relate it to what we are studying in the module.
In each of the
chapter discussion, I will evaluate the quality of your responses (see the
grading criteria below). You will be able to see your scores. Your grade
in each module for the discussions will be determined by the total
performance in all the discussion forums for that module.
the heart and soul of this course. There are areas in each module where
you are supposed to lead and/or participate in discussions. For example,
in the Student Led Discussions, every student is required to ask one
question in at least one discussion forum in the module and then to lead
the discussion on that question. The question you ask should require
thoughtful responses, and should address important and/or controversial
issues introduced in the text. No two questions should be the same issue -
so read the other questions before posting your own. The sooner you post
your question the better - but you must post within the first two days
that the section is open or you will not be awarded any quality points for
your question. Additionally, when another student responds to your
question, you should respond back to them. Your job is to facilitate the
discussion in your discussion thread, so you should probe for additional
information and ask additional questions in order to fully explore the
topic you have asked about. See the suggestions under "Teaching Presence"
below for suggestions on how to facilitate a discussion.
After you post
your question, you are required to respond to no fewer than three other
student questions. You may respond to as many questions as you want to -
but three is the minimum. You are expected to be an active participant in
all discussion forums and to lead only one thread within one forum in each
The Student Led
Discussions are the major learning activities in this course. I will
evaluate your participation carefully. You must demonstrate knowledge of
the material - not just your opinions. Each contribution you make to any
of the discussion threads should add something of value to the discussion.
There are three
response categories that I consider valuable (discussed below), and when
your response fits into one or more of these categories, I will award
points to your submission. At the conclusion of each module, I will grade
your discussion performance based on the number of points you have earned.
There are no fixed cut-offs for each grade. I will decide the grade
requirements for each discussion separately, based on the overall quality
of the questions and responses posted by all of the participants. Your
best strategy is to submit your question early, and post as many high
quality responses as you can in each discussion. Then, if you are not
earning discussion grades that are as high as you would like, you will
know that you must work harder in future modules.
Please note, the number of
quality points I award for your discussion questions and responses
is not negotiable.
on Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2002)]
Not all of your
discussion posts will earn points. Only those that fall into one (or more)
of the following three categories will be graded:
the ability of participants in an online course to project their personal
characteristics into the online community of learning - to present
themselves as "real people." There are at least three forms of social
The expression of emotion, feelings, and mood
- Evidence that you are reading, attending, understanding, thinking
about other's responses
Responses that build and sustain a sense of 'belongingness', group
commitment, ore common goals and objectives
It is important to
establish a community of learning in an online course. One way to
facilitate this is to provide social reinforcement to your fellow
students. When you agree or disagree with what another student writes, you
are providing such feedback. When you respond with an expression of
emotion, that can also demonstrate social presence. Responses which
provide this type of feedback will receive points, depending on the
quality, extent, and frequency they occur. For example, a student who says
"I agree" may get a point the first time, but no points subsequently.
tables below list a few general characteristics of possible discussion
submissions. It is the responsibility of the professor to subjectively
evaluate each discussion response and award quality points accordingly.
Remember: the number of quality points I award to each discussion post is
not negotiable. I retain the right to determine the value of each
Social Presence - Criteria
post projects your personal characteristics into the community of
learning - presents yourself as a "real person."
Affective - The
expression of emotion, feelings, and mood
Evidence that you are reading, attending, understanding, thinking
about other's responses
Cohesive - Responses
that build and sustain a sense of belongingness, group commitment,
ore common goals and objectives
the extent to which students are able to construct and confirm meaning
through sustained discourse (discussion) in a community of inquiry.
Cognitive presence can be demonstrated by introducing factual, conceptual,
and theoretical knowledge into the discussion. The value of such a
response will depend upon the source, clarity, accuracy and
comprehensiveness of the knowledge.
Cognitive Presence -
0 or ungraded
Unrated response. The post adds no academic value to the discussion.
No new information is presented.
post contains at least one usable fact or piece of information.
However, the fact or information is available from the textbook.
post contains at least one usable fact or piece of information.
However, the fact or information is not available from the textbook.
post makes a substantial academic contribution. Material is included
that is not available just by reading the textbook, and some issue or
concept is clarified.
post contains documented information that contributes greatly to the
understanding of some issue under discussion. The new information is
explained and applied such that the reader gains new insight into the
material being studied.
Presence is the facilitation
and direction of cognitive and social process for the realization of
personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes.
There are two major ways students can add teaching presence to a
A. By facilitating the discussion:
Identifying areas of agreement and disagreement
reach consensus / understanding
Encouraging, acknowledging and reinforcing student contributions
climate for learning
participants / prompting discussion
the efficacy of the process
B. By direct instruction
content and questions
Summarizing the discussion
knowledge from diverse sources
to technical concerns
Teaching Presence -
0 or ungraded
Unrated response. The post adds no teaching presence or other to the
post contains one instance of teaching presence (from the list above).
post contains two instances of teaching presence (from the list
post contains three instances of teaching presence (from the list
post contains four or more instances of teaching presence (from the
One final note
(very important!!) about your discussion posts... USE A DESCRIPTIVE 'SUBJECT' - create a subject which
describes the issue or point you are trying to make. Examples of unacceptable
subjects: "Re" / "Response to Alice" / "Alice" / "I Agree" / "Another
idea" / etc. I
should be able to tell what you are writing about just by reading the
Subject of your post.
discussion questions, discussion responses, and Website summaries are
graded on a point system. If you remember the following general
guidelines, it will help you earn additional points on your discussion
Help us feel
that we are a community of learning
Finally - there
are 2 fields you must complete each time you respond: the subject field
and the comment field. Make sure that the subject you create gives us a
good idea about what you are commenting on.
based in part on material from William Pelz, Herkimer CC,