Getting a Discussion Going

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To guarantee a good conversation, students have to feel like they have something to say. This happens at the onset of a discussion through the very first discussion prompt. Writing a good discussion prompt may sound easier than it seems. Consequently, we need to learn how to ASK questions that engage students and guide their learning.

Writing a Good Discussion Prompt


Increase valuable student contributions in the online discussion by writing a good discussion prompt.


  • Ask open-ended questions that will guide student learning.
  • Try to link the student’s education, prior knowledge, and personal experience to the course content.

Helpful Tips

Keep the questions short and purposefully vague

Avoid questions that have a “yes” or “no” answer.

End-of-chapter discussion or review questions often do NOT make good online discussion questions, but they can make good journal questions.


• As a student, did you enjoy and/or benefit from learning about [insert topic here]
instruction? Why or why not?

• What kinds of [insert tools, skills, knowledge here] do you use in your [student’s work, family, academic environment]?

• What concerns do you have about [insert practice of a topic – doing or methods] into your [insert work, class, family environment]?

• How do you foster a love for [insert practice of a topic – doing or methods]? Share some [insert work, academic, or other environment] anecdotes and experiences.

• Share your thoughts and ideas about how [insert theory or method] is important in helping
[insert goal of theory or method].