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Participating in class discussion assignments

In some papers you will be expected to contribute to class forum discussions.

This is how you contribute to a class discussion:

Image of young asian girl using her computer
  1. Read the lecturer's task instructions carefully. Discussions are usually reflections on how the content or theory is relevant for you.
    If you find it difficult to make a direct connection between what you are learning and your context, you might have to think hypothetically. For example:

    What I might do in that situation is ...
    What I would do if that happened to me is....
  2. Forum discussions are usually open between a range of dates. Be ready to write your contribution a day after the forum opens. Do not wait until the last day.
  3. Do not write long posts. If the lecturer has not specified a word count, then an appropriate length is between 150 to 200 words.
  4. Often you will be expected to reply to the posts of your classmates. When replying, first choose a post that does not already have a reply, (and if they all have replies, choose a person to whom you have not replied before).

    Note : In your replies you should:
    1. Thank the person for his or her post.
    2. Identify an idea that you found interesting in that person’s post, and explain why you like that idea.
    3. Pose a reflective question (for the whole class, not just for the person who wrote the original post). (If you can’t think of a question, that’s okay, you can make a relevant comment).
      Here are some reflection prompts:
      Does anyone in this discussion consider that ...?
      Can I ask if anyone else has ... ?
      What do you all think might happen if ...?

Remember : Always be courteous and respectful in a forum discussion.

How to disagree respectfully

X = your classmate's idea.
x = more information about what your classmate said
Y = your point
... = you continue with your own words 
[square | brackets] = different vocabulary optons

Sometimes you might need to disagree with a classmate. You should always be as polite as possible. Always have a reason for disagreeing. Here are examples of polite sentence starters that you can use.

How to pick up on a point:

I was intrigued by your comments about X, especially your [description | explanation | observations] about x... In my experience Y...
Your comments about X made me think Y because ...
I was wondering if you had yet considered Y when you said X. The reason I say this is ...
With regard to X, would you mind if I make the following comment? Y...

Pretend to be unsure about agreeing:

Wil (2018) explains how English speakers are polite by pretending to be unsure about agreeing.

I'm not sure I can agree [with] X... . My [focus | preference/s | leaning/s] [is/are | has been] in the direction of Y
I don't think our [opinions | perspectives | viewpoints] are quite [aligned | in sync | together] because Y.
I'm not in step with [this|your] position yet. Instead, my thoughts are Y.

Acknowledge and then disagree

Preface your words with an acknowledgement.

I can see why you might think X, but for me Y. 
Your [idea | comment | thinking] is understandable in many respects, but from my perspective Y.
I appreciate your thoughts about X, but I would like to add Y.


Wil. (2018) Five useful ways to disagree politely in English. EF English Live.