Week 2- Begin Creating Discussion Questions


  1. Create discussion questions for the first 8 weeks of your online course.

Learner Relevance

An online discussion  needs to be relevant  and have a clear purpose for students to interact in meaningful ways. If the online discussion is irrelevant – from the learners perspective (what counts when considering student engagement) the discussion will fail.

Characteristics of effective discussions

Effective discussion questions share ten (10) characteristics, no matter what type, style, or frequency of use. Taking the time to develop effective discussions that include these characteristics is a significant part of the instructional design of any online class

Effective Discussions
  1. Generate interest
  2. Use questions that facilitate critical thinking, not “just the facts” or bland text book publisher questions.
  3. Can be applied to everyday life or professional goals.
  4. Provide clear explicit instructions.
  5. Receive points and/or graded.
  6. Reflect a substantial percentage of the course grade that is appropriate, feasible, and significant.
  7. Provide a rubric or other evaluation tool that details the evaluation process.
  8. Require replies to other participants.
  9. Include effective facilitation and summarizations.
Questions to Consider When Planning Discussion Forum Activities
  • How do the ideas & information to be discussed fit into the course as a whole?
  • What skills, knowledge, perspectives, or sensibilities do you want students to walk away from the discussion with?
  • How will you make sure your students meet those objectives?
Questioning Strategies
  • Effective questioning strategies guide discussions and promote critical interaction.
  • Learners need to have time to process questions and develop responses that match the cognitive level of the questions asked.
  • Higher level cognitive and affective questions encourage learners to interpret, analyze, evaluate, infer, explain and self regulate.
Community Building 
  • One of the primary reasons for using discussion boards is to build a community of learners.
  • Online discussions allow students to become part of a vibrant learning community,rather thanan just an independent learner completing & submitting assignments with no real peer interaction.

Writing Good Prompts: Use a Three Point Design Strategy

Design Strategy 1: Align Prompts with Objectives

Before you even begin writing your discussion prompts, look at your module or unit level objectives – what knowledge and skills do you want students to develop in your course? Connect your questions to your objectives.We highly recommend using Bloom’s taxonomy to write your learning objectives.

The objectives should be student-centered and measureable. Depending on the learning objective, using Bloom’s Taxonomy will provide a starting place for you to design an appropriate level of question. Knowledge and comprehension focused questions (i.e., “Identify” or “define” type questions) do not generally lead to quality discussions, unless they are tied to higher order thinking.  The lower level questions tend to have one right answer and do not encourage a variety of responses.

Design Strategy 2: Write Open-Ended Questions

All too often, discussion prompts have only one answer and do not generate discussion – everyone has the same answer. In addition to aligning your prompts with your objectives, think about questions that will elicit different responses from each student.

Types of Open-Ended Questions

  • Introductions – Introductions serve a dual purpose – as a way of building a learning community by getting to know each other and to practice using the discussion tool in a non-threatening way (no prior knowledge needed; not graded).
  • Ice Breakers – Ice Breakers are designed to get students thinking about the material or concepts and build connections with peers.  If these exercises are not assessing an objective, they are not graded.
  • Clarifying Explanations – These questions usually start at the lower level of thinking skills but build to a higher level. Students are generally asked to clarify a concept and then demonstrate their knowledge and comprehension of concepts by referencing instructional materials.
  • Question Assumptions – Instead of asking students if they agree with a particular statement, try asking the following questions instead:  What other explanations might account for this? What are the assumptions behind this statement?
  • Explore Additional Evidence – This type of prompt asks students to identify additional evidence supporting or refuting a concept or idea. It may also ask students to explore a concept more deeply by ranking or justifying their thought process.
  • Multiple Perspectives – These prompts allow students to express different ideas, theories or opinions.
  • Real World Implications – This type of prompt asks students to demonstrate knowledge of a concept by applying it to a real work example.
  • Self-Reflective Processes – Reflective activities require students to share a synthesis of the learning experience, or to describe how a situation or experience has personal value to them.

Review the Discussion Question Examples document for more ideas on purposes and types of questions one can ask.

Design Strategy 3: Check Your Questions

Use the rubric below to review your discussion prompts. This tool can be used to determine whether or not your prompts will promote active discussion.

From Developing Engaging Online Discussions

Rubric for Creating Online Discussion Questions

Use the rubric below to determine whether or not your prompts will engage students in discussion. If you answer “Yes” to each question, your prompt is well designed.

Rubric for Creating Online Discussion Questions

No Unsure Yes
1. Does this question directly relate to
a learning objective?
2. Do students have the background knowledge needed to answer this question? (Not limited to facts)
3. Is there more than one answer to the question?
4. Will this question promote original insights, which promote further discussion?
5. Is there room for further contribution if the first poster thoroughly answers the question?



Begin To Earn Your Badge

Step 2- Create the half  your discussion questions
(Next week you will create your remaining questions.)

  1. Login to UH Google Drive: 
  2. Click on and Make a Copy>   Step  Action Plan: Creating Discussion Questions. 
  3. Change the name of your document. Replace the word copy with your name.
  4. Complete the Action Items by Thursday.
  5. By the end of Thursday (recommended to have content get the comments started) share your document and enable commenting  (see the directions below) HERE in the Google+ Community
  6. In the  Google+ Community, comment ON two other Google Doc worksheets, by the end of Sunday. Provide further insight into to the participant’s results. Practice improving your online interaction with insightful commenting.
How to share your Google Doc  with comments
1. Open your google document and click share in upper right corner.


2. In share with others click on “Get shareable link”.

get sharaeable link

3.  Choose anyone at the University of Hawaii with the link can comment.

share with comments

Step 3- Create Clear Guidelines and Expectations

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