Writing Effective Discussion Questions - in a Pinch!

Set the stage. To begin, build a connection by: (a) Using an everyday scenario (e.g., taking a road trip), (b) Proving data or a statistic around a problem or issue, (c) Drawing upon students’ recall of the weekly readings or videos, or (d) Reflecting on a recent action, such as participating in an online assessment (e.g., emotional intelligence quotient, skills inventory) or researching and reporting on a specific topic.

Next, pose an essential question that sparks discussion and debate, requires justification and support, and may evolve as understanding deepens. 

Lastly, establish parameters. Communicate your expectations, including word count, attribution (e.g., APA style), and engagement with peers. 

Sample prompt from an undergraduate-level education course

Research careers in the education field and identify one that appeals to you.  Please share with us the level of education in which you are most interested in serving (early childhood, elementary, middle school, and high school, or adult). Your response should include a link to your desired job. Additionally, provide a thoughtful response to the following questions: 
  • Why does this level of education appeal to you?
  • What personal qualities do you possess that will help you be successful in this level of service?
Your initial post should be comprised of 300 words. Provide evidence from at least one scholarly source to support your perspectives (cite in APA style). Respond to at least two of your classmates with specific insights. Consult the discussion rubric for additional details.


Sample prompt from a graduate-level education course

In this week’s readings, we learned about the idea of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which suggests that there are specific intelligences that are inherent in all individuals. A preferred learning style may not necessarily be the best way an individual learns, but for some, it may be. Considering the various learning styles and preferences helps instructors customize their instruction, take the following multiple intelligences test from Literacynet.org.
Once you’ve participated in the intelligence test, respond to the following questions:
  • What is the value of utilizing multiple intelligences when planning your instruction?
  • Knowing what you know now about multiple intelligences, how might it change the way you interact with colleagues, family, and/or friends? Provide at least two examples.
Your initial post should be comprised of 300 words. Provide evidence from at least one scholarly source to support your perspectives (cite in APA style). Respond to at least two of your classmates with specific insights. Consult the discussion rubric for additional details.


(Discussion board examples adapted from Ashford University, 2020)