Discussion Guidelines and Rubric Discussion Guidelines and Rubric The discussion

Discussion Guidelines and Rubric
Discussion Guidelines and Rubric
The discussion forums comprise a big portion of your final grade. You are required to post at least 2 postings, 1 original posting, and 1 reply to at least one of your classmates. The original posting has to be at least 300 words long; the reply posting – at least 100 words long. Points will be deducted for incomplete discussions. All discussions are to be submitted by 11:55 PM on the day they are due. So, what is it that I am looking for in your discussions? A few different things.
First and foremost, I want actual discussion – I want to see you discussing things with your peers. If you’re not replying to anyone, you’re not doing the assignment correctly. Conversation is the entire point. This, incidentally, is why you can’t do them late – because if the class has moved on to the next section, while you’re posting in the previous section, you’re not participating in the discussion!
I want to see that you have thought about the material you have read. It is often difficult material, and many times people will interpret it in different ways. The questions I provide are meant to be a jumping-off point for wide-ranging and thoughtful discussion amongst yourselves.
I want to see you disagree with each other in a thoughtful, respectful manner. You will learn a great deal from reasonable disagreement. Conversely, you will learn nothing if you only speak to those who share your own views.
One important point should be made: you should avoid trying to base your arguments on religious faith. This is not because there is anything inherently wrong with religious faith, but rather stems from the fact that philosophic argument is meant to appeal to something that is common to all human beings, namely, the faculty of reason. Arguments from religion can only be persuasive to those who share a particular religious belief. Arguments from reason can be persuasive to all human beings as such, because they appeal to something that is common to all human beings. This is not to denigrate religion; it is simply to say that you should cast a wide net when crafting your arguments. St. Thomas read Aristotle, Maimonides, and Alfarabi not because Aristotle was a pagan, Maimonides was Jewish, and Alfarabi a Muslim but because all three were wise human beings and philosophers, i.e., because they exercised their reason. Aristotle could persuade and influence St. Thomas or Alfarabi precisely because his arguments were reasonable. The appeal to religion is only persuasive to those who already share that particular religious belief.
Now, all of that sounds somewhat vague, does it not? These are all qualitative criteria, I readily admit. What about quantitative criteria? What about the nuts and bolts? Well, let’s consider those sorts of factors as well.
Timing matters. If you do one discussion board at the last minute, turning in all of your posts five minutes before the deadline, that is fine. We all get busy, life is hectic, sometimes things happen. If you do all of your posts every time a discussion board assignment is due at the last minute, that is not fine. If it happens once, it will be forgiven. If it happens more than once, your grade will suffer. I would prefer you post early in the assignment period so that there is ample time for conversation with your peers. Early posting and active participation in conversation can also earn extra credit.
Word count matters. You should be writing at least 300 words for your initial post. Why do I say “at least”? You are going to be thinking through some complicated issues, and trying to thoughtfully answer some difficult questions. Your initial post should reflect that. Your first (but hopefully not only) reply to your fellow students should be in the neighborhood of 100 words at least. Why? Again, because the entire point is thoughtful conversation.
Evidence for your arguments matters. You need to provide specific examples and views discussed in the assigned readings to illustrate your position. You also need to provide specific page-number references to the assigned texts. Points will be deducted if the references are not provided.

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