Meeting the weekly response posts requirement

Global Evangelism assignment instructions video

"The discussions have been helpful." -- José O., Nazarene Bible College student

A discussion board in an online class is a vehicle for sharing ideas and insights. Sometimes called forums, these discussion boards are places where students express their views on course topics as well as respond to what other students have posted.

The ability to share with one another our thoughts and ideas even though online it actually feels like a "class setting." I love that the instructor helps facilitate this. -- NBC student on end-of-course evaluation

Are you struggling with meeting the expectations for the required online response or "participation" notes? Here are five levels or categories of online response posts that may help you improve those as well as other pieces of writing. Use this material as a rubric when writing a response post.

Explanation of "substantive" response posts

Quality levels of written online response posts

Develop your critical-thinking skills. Make your online response posts be at least Level 2 quality. Level 3 is even better!

If used correctly, online class forums and discussion boards will help you:

  1. Connect with other class members
  2. Engage meaningfully with the course content
  3. Exercise communication skills
  4. Practice building a case for an idea
  5. Sharpen your critical thinking ability.

What is a substantive response post?

How to write a discussion board post

Quality contributions to online discussion threads

With thanks to my Old Testament scholar friend Marty Michelson

Most online classes have a participation or response post requirement. That is not just another "hoop to jump through." That requirement can be a fruitful part of your learning journey.

Turn your online studies into true virtual classrooms by having extendedconversations about course content. Try to encourage critical thinking among your classmates. Use the following suggestions to shape what you write on a discussion board.

General principles for fruitful online discussions

  1. Make questions open-ended rather than simply calling for binary yes/no answers.
  2. Good response posts should grow out of additional thought and even additional research on your part.
  3. Good response posts invite continuing thought and/or research by the others unless they are summary statements meant to conclude long discussions.
  4. To politely point out apparent flaws in others' thinking indirectly, ask people to explain themselves, or gently point out "possible" contradictions.
  5. Good response posts are gracious rather than curt and brittle, even when you strongly disagree.
  6. Be inquisitive rather than confrontational.

Discussion board prompts

Try calling for a display of thinking or feeling by asking:

  1. To what extent would you agree that ...?
  2. What are some ways ...?
  3. What evidence do you have for ...?
  4. What are your reasons for ...?
  5. How would you answer the objection that ...?
  6. What examples would you cite to support your statement that ...?
  7. What sources would you cite to support your statement that ...?
  8. How do you see your idea about ... working out in ... situation?
  9. How do you feel about ...? [Name something in the readings, current events, or the class postings.]
  10. What reasons do you have for saying ...?
  11. Why do you agree (or disagree) on that point?
  12. What definition are you using for the term "..." that you just used?
  13. What do you mean by that expression "..."?
  14. How is what you are saying here consistent with what you said before?
  15. Please clarify what you mean by "...".
  16. What are you implying when you say "..."?
  17. It appears that you and ... are contradicting each other. Please expand your remarks to show how you agree. Or, explain the basis of your disagreement.
  18. It seems to me like you are contradicting yourself on the issue of .... Please explain how you are able to resolve the tension between ... and

Extending or summarizing statements:

  1. I think I would summarize our discussion here by saying . . ..
  2. Another issue we should discuss here is .... [Now make an opening statement on that issue.]
  3. Another resource I found helpful on this topic is .... [Now explain why and how it is helpful.]
  4. What we are discussing here seems to apply to [name some current event in your church/area/country/world]. [Now state how you see it applying.]
  5. Is the converse of this also true/valid? It seems to me that . ...
  6. Another position with some validity could be . . ..

Calls for clarification

  1. Will someone please help me understand the distinction between ... and ...?
  2. I don't understand what you mean by _______________________. Will you please explain?

    -- Howard Culbertson,

Note: The course web pages on the official NBC site will contain expanded written instructions for the required response posts.

"I found this class very helpful in helping me gain new knowledge regarding missions in the Church. Prior to this class, I had little first-hand experience with much of the information we discussed. I appreciated the feedback from the various levels of experience of the instructor and each of my classmates." -- student on the course evaluation"


Good online discussion board posts facilitate meaningful conversations and foster engagement among participants. Some key characteristics of good discussion board posts include:

By writing posts with these characteristics, participants can contribute to vibrant and meaningful online discussions that promote learning, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas.

drawing of talkative personWhat kind of online student are you? Do others think of you as Busy or Wordy or Disconnected Dan? Do you sometimes come off to others as Oblivious or Trite-ly or even End-times Edith? [ more ]

Other videos with assignment instructions

More course materials

Note: The course web pages on the official Nazarene Bible College site will contain expanded written instructions for each of the assignments.

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