16 Discussion Board Posts

A lot of academic writing is very impersonal.

For most essays and research papers, for example, you are expected to adopt a neutral, non-emotional stance. You use third person pronouns, and you only present information from expert sources – not your own experiences.

In discussion posts, however, you are expected to do the opposite. Discussion posts are personal, and you are expected to use first person pronouns and to refer to your own experiences on the topic.

However, even though this type of writing is personal, it still must be accurate (good grammar) and ethical (citations where necessary).

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • understand the steps needed to response to a writing prompt in a discussion forum
  • describe a good discussion board post
  • describe a good discussion board reply


Online Discussions

Many professors employ “Discussion Boards” so that they can evaluate students’ understanding of and engagement with a particular topic.

To respond to a discussion board prompt

  1. Read the prompt carefully.
  2. Complete any required reading or viewing.
  3. Review the rubric for the assignment and ensure you understand the length and content expectations.
  4. Draft your response in a Word document and double check grammar and spelling.
  5. Include citations and references if necessary.
  6. Ensure that your response demonstrates your understanding of the topic and that it employs elements of critical thinking:
    • thoughtful reflection
    • analysis or evaluation of what you’ve learned
    • connections between class content and your previous knowledge or experiences
  7. Revise your response before copying and pasting it into the forum.


What makes a Good Discussion Board Post?

Good posts

  • address course content by referring to specific information from course materials and class discussions
  • demonstrate your understanding of that content
  • demonstrate that you’ve thoughtfully considered course content in light of your experiences
  • provide specific examples to support opinion statements
  • are concise and well-written
  • promote peer interaction

Discussion board posts are an opportunity for you to engage with your classmates. You will often be asked to respond to one or more classmates’ posts.

Your response should be as thoughtful as your original post.


Example Discussion Board Post [1]

Writing Prompt

Discuss your thoughts on the current national preoccupation with reality TV shows. In what ways are they used to represent or reinforce gender, racial, or economic stereotypes?


Notice that the prompt invites students to share their opinions on the topic.


Student Post

Reality shows are certainly an ever-expanding phenomenon, yet—in my opinion—they often convey many harmful stereotypes that undermine whatever entertainment value they possess. The genre exploded in the new millennium with shows like Survivor and Big Brother, which chronicled the relationships and personalities of “real” people within a competitive context. In recent years, however, reality shows have increasingly focused on the day-to-day lives of “authentic” individuals. There is one show that I think particularly epitomizes the current dilemmas inherent in this latter type of reality programming: Jersey Shore.

Jersey Shore was initially developed by the MTV network in 2009. The most recent season features the exploits of eight so-called “guidos” and “guidettes”: Paul (“DJ Pauly D”), Ronnie, Nicole (“Snooki”), Mike (“The Situation”), Vinny, Jenny (“J-Wow”), Deena, and Sammi (“Sweetheart”). I initially began watching the show at the insistence of my roommate, and occasionally follow the exploits of the cast due to their constant presence in both gossip magazines and mainstream media sites. I—along with many critics of the show—find it problematic due to three main criteria: their representation of Italian-Americans from New Jersey, their portrayal of the lifestyle of young Americans, and the show’s depiction of gender stereotypes.

Adam K. Raymond of The New York Times Magazine notes that the show has particularly infuriated Italian-Americans; Richmond states that the president of UNICO, an Italian-American service organization, has asked MTV to cease production of Jersey Shore because “it perpetuates the stereotype of young Italian men as mindless drunk oafs with more hair gel than brain cells” (Raymond, 2009, para. 1).

Indeed, Jersey Shore frequently shows male cast members who engage in alcohol-induced debauchery, avoid “grenades” (unattractive females), and whose only other occupations are “GTL” (gym, tan, laundry). The show’s females are also subject to equally negative representation, in that they are all heavily tanned, wear provocative clothing, and are constantly on the prowl for the perfect “juice-head gorilla” (read: a young man who likely takes steroids to increase his bulk.) For the show’s fourth season, the cast relocated to Italy, where they spent several months partying, fighting, and generally perpetuating negative stereotypes of American youth. Although this show supposedly chronicles the experiences of “real” Italian- Americans from New Jersey, only two of the cast members (Sammi and Deena) are actually from New Jersey, and not all of the individuals are ethnically Italian. The show thus, in my opinion, is deliberately designed to accentuate these stereotypes.

My question is this: is there anything redeeming about Jersey Shore? Do you think that these types of reality shows (that follow the lives of “real” people in day-to-day settings) are more detrimental than competition realty shows like Survivor?


Notice that the student’s response is presented in well-organized and detailed paragraphs. The writer gives her opinion on the topic and then explains her opinion by providing a detailed response that focuses on a specific example. She ends with a thought-provoking question in hopes that her classmates will engage with her post by responding.


Student Response

I agree that Jersey Shore, by and large, demonstrates many negative stereotypes. And yet, you cannot ignore its current cultural relevance. According to Rebecca Brown, an MTV blogger, several universities are using Jersey Shore as a platform for discussion.

For instance, a student at the University of Chicago intends to sponsor a conference on the show which will include topics such as “The construction, localization and performance of ethnicity, or I’m not white, I’m tan‟ “. Jersey Shore has the potential to be detrimental, if these stereotypes are perceived as fact. But, in my opinion, it is very obvious that the Jersey Shore cast members are characters, not “real” people.

Also—just to play the devil’s advocate—I think that several reality shows (even those of the “day to day” variety) have positive repercussions. Consider a show that airs on the TLC channel—What Not to Wear. This program is hosted by two individuals who provide makeovers to primarily women. Unlike Jersey Shore, these women are portrayed as real people, not as “one-dimensional” stereotypes. Although some of the individuals on the show are more receptive to makeovers than others, they are not relegated to simple labels of “hero” and “villain.” This show has both positive intentions and consequences. Again, I certainly admit that many programs do reinforce negative stereotypes, but it is difficult to classify all “reality shows” as representing these stereotypes universally.


Notice that the response refers to specific details in the original post – it is clear that the writer carefully read and reflected on the original post. The response engages with the original post by respectfully offering an alternative viewpoint. It’s fine to agree with a post – but you have to add to the conversation by providing some new perspective or example.

  1. University of Nevada, Reno. (2021, May 14). Writing a successful discussion board post. University Writing & Speaking Centre. https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/writing-a-successful-discussion-board-post.


Discussion Board Posts Copyright © by Confederation College Communications Department and Paterson Library Commons. All Rights Reserved.

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