Each asynchronous online week you will be asked to respond to questions about the readings. For each question, each reading response is worth 20 points, broken down as follows:

Initial reading responses will be scored 1 to 10, with 1 being “responses are very vague and not at all well developed” and 10 being “very thoughtful and reflective.” Thus, scores depend on the cogency of your arguments, the degree to which you avoid simplistic over-generalizations and personal anecdotes, and the degree to which you incorporate course material. Reading responses should be a minimum of 125 words long and not exceed 300 words, and they are due by midnight (EST) Thursday of the week assigned, with 1 point being deducted for each day the response is late.

Responses to at least TWO classmates’ reading responses per question are also worth 10 points (5 points per response). Scores of 10 will (a) address a specific part of classmates’ responses, (b) incorporate course readings and terminology, and (c) introduce new ideas or questions. Thus, “good” responses are specific and reflect higher-order thinking (e.g., “Your point about X made me think more about Y and the way it relates to Z…” Or, “Your summary of X surprised me, as I interpreted that to mean Y… ”). Bad responses, in contrast, are overly general–e.g., “Nice post. Interesting ideas. Never thought of that.” There is no “minimum” length for responses to classmates’ responses, but they should not exceed 200 words. Responses to classmates’ reading responses are due by midnight (EST) Saturday of the week after the initial response was due. Late responses to classmates’ posts will not receive any points.

Here are two practical tips on how to make the most of asynchronous online discussions.

  1. Use the subject line
    • Rather than simply hitting “reply,” adding subject line titles like “Teapots are beautiful?” helps to foster interest. More importantly, subject line titles also inform readers of the main idea of your response, and so doing emphasize that you are adding something new to the discussion.
  2. Read EVERYTHING from your instructors!
    • Be sure to read EVERYTHING from your instructor/teaching assistant, whether they reply directly to you or to someone else. The reading response forums are our primary source of interaction during asynchronous weeks and, as such, an important part of the way we can provide feedback, clarify an important point, expand on a given issue, etc.