Teaching Tip: Use discussion boards for major assignments
This tip is based on feedback from 338 students across four Los Angeles college campuses.
In our field, it’s common knowledge that offering students a sample assignment to reference can help guide their work. 85% of my students said that “seeing other students’ work on discussion boards” was helpful when they completed their own assignments.
When you ask your students to turn in their major research papers on a discussion board, you’re allowing students to see all of their classmates’ work which will, in turn, elevate the work of struggling students. Imagine, for example, a student who didn’t read the rubric of your major research paper and, therefore, forgot to include a works cited page. Upon posting his paper on the discussion board, he’ll notice that his is the only assignment missing a works cited page and will then edit his paper to meet all rubric standards.
Naturally, this strategy only works when each student is writing about a different topic (otherwise they may borrow too much from each other). But, if each student is asked to review a different article, research a different religion, or report on a different historical event, then posting final papers on a discussion board is a wonderful way to create a supportive community of learners that lifts everyone up by preventing learner isolation.
This tip is part of a series, please also check out:
For the entire work, please see my article, “The Moral Obligation To Make Classes ‘Easy’.”