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Academic Skills Essentials: Discussion forums

Discussion forums

As a student in the digital age, you will most likely be required to participate in discussion board activities for assessment.  A discussion board is an online space within the Learning Management System (LMS) where you contribute to discussions on a topic/question set by your lecturer.  

Discussion boards house discussion forums that are organised into topics by 'threads'. You may be asked to start a thread on a topic of your choosing or reply to a discussion taking place. 

In these threaded discussions, you are required to weave a number of different parts of the discussion to include: 

  • your own viewpoints 
  • information from readings, and 
  • other participants’ postings. 

In your discussion boards posts, you are encouraged to demonstrate your interaction with: 

  • other students in the class, 
  • your lecturer,  
  • the content, and 
  • the world. 


Click on the discussion board posts below (that respond to the original post by another student) to see how they rate in terms of quality.

Original post: When I worked as an office manager at a local university, I found that despite what management theory says – managers don’t just plan, organise, lead and control.  I found myself doing much more than these four functions on most days.


Student 1’s discussion board post merely agrees with the original post without providing new insights or explaining why the student agrees with the post. Texting language TTYL (acronym for talk to you later) should not be used. Grade - Poor.


Student 2’s discussion board post is better than the first one: It thanks the contributor of the original post, and says why the student agrees with what was posted. Comments are better than the last one, but still not good.


Student 3’s discussion board post is better than the first two. It acknowledges the initial post by thanking the poster by name e.g. “Thank you for your post, Adrian”, It provides detail e.g. “I do not just … but do so much more”, and links observations to theory e.g  “as Fayol describes as the…” However, more details and development of ideas, along with referencing would have made this a stronger post.


Student 4’s discussion board post is the best. It acknowledges the initial post by thanking the poster by name. It attempts to build relationship e.g. “I can really relate to your experience”. It provides personal experience in detail e.g. “I do the basic….” It links and references theory e.g. “Fayol (1916), Mintzberg (2015), Arman (2009)” and links this to personal experiences. Finally, it tries to connect to future research in the area.

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