Discussion Forums

Starting in August 2016, new guidelines and expectations for online class discussion will be in effect. Here are the new guidelines:

Discussion Format & Guidelines

Weekly Threaded Discussion

Students are required to participate in the weekly class discussions around one or more posted topics. “Threaded discussion” provides the opportunity for students and instructor to interact back and forth throughout the week.

How Discussions Work

Class discussion involves posting written comments and notes to a discussion topic folder and reading and replying to the posts of others. Each initial post to a topic creates a “discussion thread.

The typical process of a threaded discussion is as follows:

  • Each topic begins with a prompt (question or assertion) drawn from the weekly readings and objectives.
  • Students respond to the prompt(s) by submitting an initial post
  • Students read and post replies to the threads of others. Replies challenge or support the post being answers.
  • Other students will read the initial post and the follow-up posts and then respond. As students respond to each other, the thread of discussion builds throughout the week. Start early.
  • As the thread builds, other students will initiate new threads as new directions spin off of the initial concept. Other students will join in the newly created thread so that by the end of the week, there are multiple threads, all addressing a perspective of the initial thought.
  • The faculty member will step in from time to time to support, clarify, or further facilitate the discussion.

Guidelines for Discussion

The grading of class discussion is based on the following requirements. All of these requirements must be met in order to be eligible for full credit for discussion grades. Any missing components will result in the reduction of the student’s weekly grade for that discussion topic.

SUBSTANCE Each post should be substantive (see the Substantive Posts section below). The initial post that starts a new thread is not to be merely an essay displaying content knowledge, but intended to foster further discussion. So, content should be presented with peer engagement in mind.
LENGTH Initial post to create your thread should be at least 250 words; Replies to others should be a minimum of at least 100 words. Certain courses or discussions may also require a word limit for discussion posts.
FREQUENCY Have one or more substantive posts (see the Substantive Posts section below) on at least four (4) days of the week. A minimum of two (2) substantive, thoughtful replies to classmates for each topic.
TIMELINESS Your first posting to discussion topics no later than midnight Tuesday of the given week. (This helps ensure that all students are actively engaged in the weekly discussion. When students wait and submit all of their posts on the last day of the week, it results in very little added value to the weekly discussion.)
CLARITY When replying to the posts of others, begin your response by naming the individual to whose post you are responding, along with one sentence that summarizes his/her point. This way, a person reading your post will understand to whom you are responding. You may also elect to quote all or a portion of the selected, relevant portion of the post being addressed.
SUPPORT & EVIDENCE Support your arguments and comments in each post by including at least one solid reference to a scholarly source (textbook, journals, articles, or other sites) that support and strengthen your argument or comments. You should have one good citation per post. Be sure to reference a theory or concept supported in the reading for the week along with outside sources and practical real-life experience.
DUE DATE As a standard rule, Discussion Topics are to be completed within the week that they are due. Posting for a new week is open starting Monday, and will be available through the due date of each week on Sunday at 11:59pm Central Time. On occasion, the particular topic or structure of a course may require an earlier due date for a class discussion topic.


A substantive post:

  • is a minimum of 100 words in length (excluding footnotes and citations)
  • demonstrates critical thinking and support from the readings,
  • supports using cited references to outside material,
  • applies appropriate workplace experience, and
  • incorporates spiritual/biblical aspects such as Scripture, personal faith, theology or philosophy, and Christian worldview. Use the Integrated Learning Model to help you better visualize what this looks like.
  • helps to deepen the learning of the whole class around both experience, content knowledge, and biblical thinking.
  • challenges, critiques, explains, applies, evaluates, analyzes, explores…the main topic being discussed

Tips on Skimming Material to Foster Early Posting

  • First, find the chapter, paragraph, or section titles, if available. Good editors will include these to help guide the reader through the subject matter.
  • Second, quickly glance at the first and last sentences of each paragraph. Most of the time, the key ideas in a paragraph are contained right here—remember your days of learning to write? Topic sentence, conclusion? Many times you will pick up key ideas simply by looking at these two places.
  • Third, in larger sections, such as a chapter, go to the end and look for a concluding summary paragraph. In most cases, the key ideas of the larger paragraph are restated here.

Policy of Online Discussion Forums

The posting of information contained in discussion forums does not necessarily reflect the views of OKWU, and in no event shall OKWU assume or have any responsibility or liability for any information posted or for any claims, damages, or losses resulting from the use and/or appearance of such information. OKWU reserves the right to refuse to post, edit, or remove, in whole or in part, any information that is, in the University’s sole discretion, of unacceptable or undesirable content.

Authorship and Credit

Students should be advised that all material must be of their own authorship, and when quoting another source or referring to another person’s work, a reference should be made in the appropriate manner.