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A discussion board is a safe space that students can use to further probe into classroom content. Online discussion forums have helped many students in different ways with regard to their overall classroom participation. Discussion posts can promote collaboration among members as well as allow students to explore topics, questions, and/or issues more proactively.

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Thus, the reason why it’s vital that you know the different parts of a discussion post and how you can use them to make your contributions more effective.

Discussion boards also always make the perfect forum for students to employ internet resources. By this, we mean that some discussion forums allow their members to include hyperlinks and cite sources to relevant content. And the fact that online discussion boards are asynchronous makes them the best tool for sparking conversations.

Truthfully, there are some conversations that you cannot find within the physical classroom environment. An online discussion forum provides the freedom to allow students to open up more.

That said, here is a more detailed overview of the key parts of a discussion post that you should know:

Key Parts of a Discussion Post

An online discussion forum can be a sticking point, especially for students, since it doesn’t always have an easy pattern for composing it. It’s, therefore, vital that you learn these parts of a discussion post in advance before you even start posting a conversation in your online forum. If not, then there’s a high probability that you may end up posting irrelevant content or miss a few guidelines on the way.

A good discussion post should ebb and flow as the topic of discussion dictates without falling out of topic. Ideally, you will realize that some results require more critical analysis, whereas others will be more open-ended. Whatever the case, if you employ these parts of a discussion post effectively, then you can have a much more productive discussion forum.

parts of a discussion post

Summary of Results

This section of the discussion often aims to remind the members of the forum of key results relating to the topic in question. However, you must remember to avoid posting too extensive summaries in this section. If possible, try to keep this part of the discussion to a minimum. You can expound more on them later on in the discussion.

Ensure, therefore, that you try for a more direct, succinct recap that will help the readers avoid flipping back to your results section. It’s often more helpful to reiterate key points and numbers here. Often, this part of the discussion post isn’t even written in full sentences.

Later on, you will have to use it as a bridge to a more critical analysis of your results. Also, remember not to bring up any new results in this part of the discussion. Stick to your current findings at this point.

Critical Analysis of Results

As one of the most critical parts of a discussion post, this section requires you to submit more detailed results. Here’s where you will now have to provide a more detailed and specific description of your findings. You want other members in the group to understand what your findings actually mean.

Your analysis should, therefore, focus more on unexpected but particularly important or unusual results. At the same time, you will have to analyze the meaning of your findings to other members of the group.

Your analysis should also highlight any new relationships, trends, or knowledge that you uncovered from the research. Remember, also, to list any possible alternative explanations to your results that you might have uncovered with a rationale for why you excluded them as possibilities. Remember to be as detailed as of a discussion post

Relate Your Results to The Field

In this section, you will be required to compare your findings to previous studies if available. These can be the results that prompted even more questions as you did your assignment. Being an online discussion forum, your work is only a small section of a much larger whole.

It’s, therefore, always important that you let other students know where your work falls in that larger whole. Your findings should also easily integrate into the whole picture and flow with other members’ findings.

This part of the discussion post also allows you to describe any generalizations that you may have about your assignment.

Speculate Beyond Current Knowledge

As an open learning platform, online discussion forums allow students to speculate more on their studies. Discussion forums let you explore beyond your current knowledge and venture into a world full of unknowns. This section, therefore, allows you to indicate others can apply your findings beyond current knowledge limits.

You can always include possible new insights or develop new hypotheses about the topic in question. There’s virtually no limit to what you can write here, provided it sticks within your current topic.

Speculate about how your results can fit into a much bigger picture. Can your results be related or applied to the field? Can it be logically supported by your research? If so, how can it be applied? These are just a few of the questions that you should ask yourself here in order to complete this section.

Future Directions

This part of the discussion post is meant more as a conclusive summary of what you got form your findings. It should help other members also get from where they are concerning the topic, to where you are, or where you want them to be.

This is where you should also make a note of any questions that you may still have about your research. Ask other members of the discussion if they can come up with responses or resolutions to your queries. Occasionally, you will find other students who will provide you with other possible routes for your results.

parts of a discussion post

Finally, remember to bring up any possible applications for your results. Remember, however, to stick within the realms of your topic of study. You don’t want to be too far off-topic.

How to Write an Effective Discussion Post

Using the parts of a discussion post mentioned above, you can now compose some of the best posts overall. Ideally, it takes time and practice to perfect your posts and make them more op-topic. By this stage, you probably already know that there’s no hand-raising when using online classrooms.

There’s no vigorous head nodding as an agreement to a great point made by a classmate. You cannot approach your professor after a lecture as it is in a physical classroom.

However, when used appropriately, online discussion posts are an excellent tool for both students and instructors. These forums can help students to connect more with their course classmates, instructors, and courses being taught. Students can actually learn more from online discussions than from other parts of the course if they work as intended.

To make that possible, here are some expert tips on how you can ace your online discussion board sessions:

What Should be Included in a Discussion Post?

One of the most important parts of a discussion post is the directions provided by the instructor. Unlike in a face-to-face conversation where you can jump from one topic to another, writing sessions are much stricter. Composing a discussion post doesn’t provide you with the luxury to jump from one topic to another.

You must stick to the topic in question lest you end up confusing other members in the forum. Ensure, therefore, refrain from presenting jumbled ideas. It’s imperative that you compose organized discussion posts as if they were any other formal writing.

Syllabuses typically outline specific instructions and directions that govern how online discussions are used. As a result, it’s imperative that you read all directions carefully before you send any post. Some instructors outline how often you can post in the forum, what you can include in each contribution and the word limit for all responses.

Only by following the instructor’s directions will you improve your final grades. Otherwise, none of the time and energy that you invest in your post will mean anything if you don’t stick to the instructions.

parts of a discussion post

Say Something Substantive

In as much as your opinion always matters in online discussions, it’s still important that you have substantive opinions. This also forms a significant basis in the parts of a discussion post. Always try to back up all your opinions and post with facts and evidence.

Citing sources from both inside and outside classroom materials can also help to stem plagiarism. Remember, it’s vital that you make your argument look more legitimate and on-topic. This is the surest way to earn more points with your instructor.

Discussion boards are meant to be conversational. This means that each post a member submits should build on a previous comment or lead to new conversations. Submit posts that other members can build and expand on or use as reference material.

Don’t Procrastinate

Students always have a habit of writing and submitting their discussion posts right at the deadline. However, striving just to beat the deadline often results in the production and submission of poor-quality work. If everybody decided to procrastinate at the deadline and only work to beat deadlines, we would be in a lot of trouble.

With regards to discussion posts, writing your posts at the last minute often affects the quality of the entire conversation. More often than not, your contribution to the post will be very surface-level. It won’t delve anywhere close to where you want it to be. A thoughtful and informative discussion requires a significant amount of time and effort invested in it.

Ask A Question If You Don’t Understand A Concept

It’s always okay to ask a question if you don’t understand a concept or if you are stumped on a particular topic. Help is always just an email away if you want to have a more private conversation with your professor. Better still, you can always ask for help from your online discussion forum.

There are also several resources available that you can use if you hit a roadblock with your assignment. Course community forums are another excellent resource that students can use to ask for clarity on any assignments that they have.

Use Research

Several parts of a discussion post will require that you invest time in research. This is often a requirement for discussion posts. Your research should only always include course materials unless otherwise instructed by your professor. Of course, you can also research external sources such as library databases.

It’s also important that you always remember to integrate and cite all your research with relevant sources. Remember, those parts of a discussion post also form part of academic writing. They must, therefore, be properly cited.

parts of a discussion post

Remember Your Manners

An online discussion forum is a space where students discuss academic issues with an instructor. As a result, you must always remember to stay as respectful as you can with how you use your words and how you address other members in the post. Also, the tones of different forums always vary.

Some may be formal, while others are semi-formal. Remember, however, that this is an academic forum. So, your writing should be as formal as you can make it.

Your writing can tell a lot about your personality. Think of the discussion board as a global classroom. Here, you will interact with members from different backgrounds and upbringings. Therefore, while communication styles may vary from one discussion forum to the next, you should always remember to stick to the communication guidelines of the forum that you are using at that time.

It’s about respect and courtesy. You should learn to consider other people’s feelings, values, and cultures when using discussion boards. This forms the basis of all parts of a discussion post.

What Should be Included in a Discussion Post?

A discussion forum is basically a virtual bulletin board where members can start or join conversations on different topics. In this case, an academic discussion forum is meant for academic discussions. The online course environment provides students with the opportunity to learn and interact with one another and their professors outside of the physical classrooms. Here, you can ask your instructor or classmates a question or request assistance or feedback.

Discussion posts are often mandatory in online classes. And the more active you are in your online discussions, the more likely you will score higher grades. The grading system of discussion posts also differs from one instructor and course to another.

For instance, the grading might depend on the amount of detail that you put into your posts. The lengths of your posts can also impact your grades. Your level of participation is, therefore, your best move at acing your exams.

Fortunately, there are several academic writing services that can help you with your discussion posts. Ukessays ranks as the best academic writing website that incorporates all the parts of a discussion post to make every post complete. You never have to worry about you’re your discussion post being too shallow or offensive. has a team of certified, professional writers who work round the clock to ensure that you get the best finished products.

Student Responsibilities

Discussion posts are often meant to help students to reflect thoughtfully on their coursework and exchange ideas with their colleagues. As a class, you can benefit a lot from using online discussion forums. But discussion boards are also only as good when you put in the effort to use them appropriately.

Submitting posts last-minute that are sloppy, inaccurate, unclear, and inaccurate will help no one. If anything, these actions will only end up hurting your grades.

Basically, online discussion posts work like this; if someone asks you a question, it’s courteous that you respond to them. If your post is inaccurate, you can ask your colleagues for help or further clarification to point out the inaccuracy. It’s also your responsibility to post all your responses on time and in the correct format.

Instructors will always comment wherever they deem appropriate if their input is necessary. Your instructor can also point out our inaccuracies in your responses and help lead discussions to their conclusions. Having read this section of the excerpt, you should have a much better understanding of discussion posts and how they can be handy, especially for students.

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Elements of a Discussion Post Sample

Seven-Step Method: The Case of “The Ides of March (2011)”

Student’s Name

Institutional Affiliation

Film Selection

I selected Stephen Meyers, the main character in The Ides of March (2011), to illustrate the seven-step method of making an ethical decision (Meyers, 2018). Throughout the play, multiple moral dilemmas face the character due to the compromising situations that his line of work, politics, puts him in.

The whole film plays out during the onset of a very brilliant political operative’s career, in the climax of the bid for the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. He is a very ambitious but naïve person for his work line and has absolute and sheepish trust for Mike Morris, a seating governor, and presidential aspirant.

Various individuals warned him of the consequences of having such a point of view in politics; for example, Ida Horowicz, a reporter, told him, “You really buy into all this crap? All this take back the country nonsense?” something that he denied (Clooney, 2011).

Stephen Meyers’s naivety drives him into a sexual relationship with an intern who had an extramarital affair with Mike Morris, and the film plays with Stephen’s reaction to the realities of his world, thus making the film a right candidate for the illustration of the seven-step method of making an ethical decision (Meyers, 2018).


Stephen Meyers, the main character in The Ides of March (2011), is faced with multiple moral problems throughout the movie’s plot and his decisions arguably lead to the tragic death of a young intern in a presidential campaign team.

He is an ambitious junior campaign manager for Mike Morris, one of the democratic presidential candidates and sitting Governor for Pennsylvania. The first moral problem which Stephen Meyers faces is whether to engage in a sexual relationship with an intern who was significantly younger than him.

Even though Molly Stern, the intern, and the Democratic National Congress chairperson’s daughter expressed her romantic interest in Stephen, he had adequate information to make a moral judgment before engaging in a sexual relationship with a disgruntled and confused young intern in Morris’s campaign.

Stephen Meyer was right to accept an invite for a date from a junior collogue, but he should have made more responsible decisions and known her and her circumstances. This way, he would have had more control over the matter and maybe saved Molly Stern’s life (Clooney, 2011).

Even though Stephen Meyer was faced with various moral challenges throughout the plot of the tragedy, the initial moral problem had the most impact on his morality. At first, he was a very naïve but talented junior campaign manager who believed in his presidential candidate’s course.

However, the immorality of the political scene subjects him to compromising his lack of experience in politics, and he ends up making the wrong decision leading to severe consequences. The ethical component involved in this moral problem is sexual harassment in the professional setting.

Stephen Meyers’s decision to engage in a sexual relationship with Molly Stern may be legal because it was consensual, but it was immoral to confirm the consequences. Molly Stern was a very beautiful and ambitious intern working under Stephen Meyer for a period, but he had not noticed her, something that she leverages to invite him for a date “You ought to stop by one night and have a drink with the worker bees.” and being a nice person, Stephen says yes (Clooney, 2011).

However, it depended on his values to determine whether to engage in a sexual relationship with her after determining that she was 20 years old. He should have done some due diligence before showing up for the date and preferably befriended her first to know her better.

The fifth of the seven-step method of making an ethical decision is “Consider the potential consequences of all options and determine a course of action.” (Meyers, 2018), which may not be applicable to Stephen’s initial moral problem because he did not make any deliberations or consideration for potential consequences of having a more intimate relationship with a junior colleague.

Responding to Discussion Posts

However, he learned very first from his mistakes and courageously took personal responsibility for his role in the tragic death of Molly Stern by bearing the guilt and not blaming it on other parties involved. He considered the consequences of Molly’s pregnancy and is a presidential candidate’s responsibility in it and offered to help her exercise her “prochoice rights” and save Morris’s campaign.

Given that Stephen Meyer does not consider the consequences of his actions, he chooses action and blindly engages in sexual relations with the intern. The first time he faces the reality of the world within which he works, which is evil, is when he learned that Governor Mike Morris had engaged in a sexual relationship and impregnated Molly Stern, something that could destroy his bid for the presidency.

Stephen Meyer helps her to terminate the pregnancy and instructs her to leave the campaign. When he got fired, he also failed to consider informing Molly and reassuring her that he would not be able to compromise her dignity. This made Molly panic and commit suicide, which Stephen exploited to get back to his adversaries and save his career in politics (Clooney, 2011).


Clooney, G. (2011). The Ides of March [Film]. Netflix; Netflix.

Meyers, C. (2018). The professional ethics toolkit. John Wiley & Sons.

What a learner should include in the first discussion post

An initial discussion post is the learner’s first response to the instructor’s question. They should include a clear answer to the question. Additionally, they ought to include the evidence through citations and referencing credible academic resources like research papers. They should draw a connection between their answer and the evidence provided. The learner can also pose a question that other learners on the discussion board can answer.

What a learner should include in the follow-up posts

After posting the initial discussion post the learner is then required to read the responses provided by their fellow learners. This allows them to view the course material from different perspectives.  They are then required to reply to several of the posts by providing their subjective perspective. They should go beyond agreeing and disagreeing and add something unique to the discussion. They should include the claim they are making, the evidence to support it, and the connection between the two.

Dos in Online Class Discussion Forums

  • Log into the discussion board as regularly as possible
  • Read the provided course material
  • Take notes of the course material
  • Cite the sources
  • Respond to the follow-up posts
  • Be open-minded in the discussion process
  • Proofread the posts made
  • Dos in Online Discussion Posts

Don’ts in Online Class Discussion Forums

  • Do not provide one-word answers on whether you agree or disagree with the other learners
  • Do not respond emotionally especially when a colleague disagrees with your perspective.
  • Do not respond to a colleague without understanding their perspective.

parts of a discussion post

Sample 2: Discussion Prompt

This study suggests increased use of drugs and alcohol in e-cigarette users in comparison with nonusers (p. 1192). Why is that? Is it purely coincidence or is there a relationship between the two? The study didn’t take into account socioeconomic factors, rather it came from a sampling of 9th to 12th graders in public, parochial, and other private schools (p. 1192).

Is there any connection between e-cigarette usage and socioeconomic status? What are the long-term ramifications of tobacco use in terms of a person’s health? What are the criteria for determining if a person has an addiction to nicotine or a tobacco dependence?

First response

According to Curran et al. (2018), the highest risk of subsequent drug and alcohol use was in individuals who used both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes. The risk was moderate in conventional cigarette use alone, and lowest in sole e-cigarette use.

These remained significant even after accounting for demographic differences and in children otherwise considered low risk for drug and alcohol use. Some research suggests that the initial trial of e-cigarettes is experimentation as part of the natural adolescent developmental stage. However, this can also be a timeframe where addiction initiates.

One study looking at individuals with addiction showed that most people suffering from addiction started before the age of 18 (Curren et al., 2018). Other research on adolescents and nicotine exposure shows that this population may be more sensitive to nicotine than adults, putting them at a higher chance of becoming dependent upon it (Johnson & Selekman, 2019).

A study by Simon et al. (2018), focused on socioeconomic status and its impact on e-cigarette use. Their study proposed that the rate of advertisements and exposure to e-cigarette products is higher in lower socioeconomic areas, therefore, influencing more adolescents to begin using them.

The result of the study showed that there was a higher likelihood of e-cigarette use among adolescents of lower socioeconomic status and that there was a trend of future conventional cigarette use among this population.
Smoking and tobacco use can cause a myriad of health problems, with the severity of morbidity increasing with the length of time of exposure. Examples of some health problems are coronary disease, lung disease such as cancer and COPD, and compromise of the immune system.

Even secondhand smoke can cause a large list of complications for both adults and children. Adults exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher rate of stroke along with lung and cardiac disease. In children, secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDs, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and asthma (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020).
Experimentation and use of nicotine-containing products can quickly turn into dependence or addiction for adolescents. When this occurs, it puts their immediate and future health at risk. An easy, reliable, and valid screening tool to determine which adolescents may be suffering from, or at risk for, a substance use disorder is the CRAFFT tool.

This tool includes questions around six areas: Car, Relax, Alone, Forget, Friends, Trouble. Research that has compared the positive screening point of 2 points on the CRAFFT questionnaire to the criteria discussed in the DSM-V, showed it to be accurate in determining adolescents at risk for substance use disorder (Shenoi, R.P. et al., 2019).

Although CRAFFT has been used mainly in clinical settings, it is a quick and easy tool available for school nurses to implement. When used correctly, it can screen for students in need of further evaluation and intervention to prevent future complications.

qualities of discussion posts and responses


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 28). Smoking and tobacco use: Health effects

Curran, K.A., Pitt, P.D., & Middleman, A.B. (2018). Trends and substance use associations with e-cigarette use in US adolescents. Clinical Pediatrics, 57(10), 1191-1198. DOI: 10.1177/0009922818769405

Johnson, K. & Selekman, J. (2019). Students engaging in high-risk behaviors. In J. Selekman, R. A. Shannon, & Yonkaitis, C.F. (Eds.), School nursing: A comprehensive text (3rd ed., pp. 603-626). F. A. Davis.

Simon, P., Camenga, D.R., Morean, M.E., Kong, G., Bold, K.W., Cavallo, D.A., & Krishnan-Sarin, S. (2018). Socioeconomic status and adolescent e-cigarette use: The mediating role of e-cigarette advertisement exposure. Preventive Medicine, 112, 193-198.

Shenoi, R.P., Linakis, J.G., Bromberg, J.R., Casper, T.C., Richards, R., Mello, M.J., Chun, T.H., & Spirito, A. (2019). Predictive validity of the CRAFFT for substance use disorder. Pediatrics, 144(2), 1-12. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2018-3415

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From the above excerpt, it’s evident that online discussion forums are an effective tool, especially for students who are looking to bolster their academic grades. When used appropriately, active participation in online discussion forums can help you with your coursework. However, you must be willing and ready to participate as an active member of your discussion committee. These parts of a discussion post should help you get started.

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