Discussion Board:
"How to Be Successful"



Download:  MS Word



Below, please find information I will take into consideration when grading your posts.  Remember, you are not posting to Facebook or a blog.  If your post is one or two huge paragraphs, you will not receive a good grade. 


  1.  General Considerations: 

Primary Post

Preliminaries:  Turn on Microsoft Word’s “Proofing.”  You can find a video tutorial on how to accomplish this.  Just hold down the control button (ctrl) on your computer, place your cursor on the word that appears in blue font and is underlined, and then “left click” on the word.  Proofing.  This will take you to a video, and text description, of how to turn on Word’s proofing.

When you turn on Word’s proofing, errors in grammar and punctuation will be indicated with little squiggly green lines.  Errors of spelling are underlined with little squiggly red lines.  Don’t ignore these little squiggly lines.  Most often, they indicate that you have an error in grammar, punctuation, or spelling.  If you feel you haven’t made an error, highlight the information that has squiggly lines under it, right click, and then look the reasoning that Word has highlighted the text.  If you disagree with Word, and feel that you are correct, then you can click: “Ignore Once.”  When you do so, the little green or red squiggly lines will disappear from under the text.

Read the DB Question Carefully:  Make sure you read the DB question carefully.  Students often answer part of the question but miss other parts.  Read carefully.  If the post prompt consists of two questions, make sure you address both questions.  Think about the relationship between the two questions and try to integrate them in your response.  That is, don’t address the questions separately.  Attempt to integrate them into them into the logical “argument” of your post.

Length:  Write approximately 250-400 for the original post.  You can check this by highlighting your post in Microsoft Word.  The word count appears in the bottom left hand corner.

Format:  Please prepare your post in Microsoft Word.  Use “Times New Roman,” 12-point font. 

Posting:  After you finish writing your post, copy and paste it into Blackboard.  You can highlight your entire text in Word by holding down the control key (ctrl) and simultaneously pressing the letter “A” on the keyboard.  (The letter “A” stands for “All”).

Next, you can copy the text you have highlighted by holding down the control key (ctrl) and pressing the letter “C.”  (The letter “C” stands for “Copy”).

Then go to Blackboard, and put your cursor in the area where it says “Message.”  Then hold down the control key (ctrl) and press the letter “V.”  (I have no idea what the letter “V” stands for). 

Your text will then be entered into Blackboard.  All you have to do now is click the “Submit” button and voila, you are done.

Spacing: When posting to Blackboard, please use single spacing.  When sending your post to the professor, please double-space the text before sending.  The professor will be providing feedback for your post, and it is easier to read if your post is double-spaced.

Purpose:  The post is intended to encourage you to “think deeply” about the information contained in lectures and reading assignments.  Do not simply repeat information from lectures/readings—compare, contrast, criticize, analyze, challenge, disagree, integrate, synthesize.

Preparation:  Review all of the materials for the particular module/week’s assignments prior to posting your original answer.

Christian:  Where appropriate, your thread should contain an integration of a Christian worldview (using biblical themes were applicable),

Use Proper Citations:  Provide references and citations, where applicable, according to APA Style Manual (6th edition).  You will receive a separate handout on formatting citations and references, entitled:  “Basic Citations and Reference Examples.”

Person:  You are permitted (but not required) to write from a “first person” perspective.  That is, you can use expressions such as, “I believe that…”  However, make sure you back up any personal statement/claim you make.  That is, provide a logical explanation and/or evidence as to why you believe this or that. 

You can “back up” your claim by means of logical argument—deduction or induction.  You can also back up your claim with evidence—for example, expert opinions from information contained in lectures, textbooks, and/or journal articles, that form part of this course.

Here is an example: “I believe that psychology and theology can be integrated.  After all, both disciplines are united by the fact that they are seeking truth, and “all truth is God’s truth.”

Remember, don’t’ just state your opinion without backing it up by giving an explanation or rational argument regarding why you believe this or that.


Secondary Posts

Two Replies
: Post a 100 - 200-word reply to at least two other students' original threads.  This means that you must have three posts (one thread and two replies) in the Group Discussion Board to receive full credit.  


Content:  For your replies, be aware that statements like "I like what you said," "That's a good comment," and "I disagree with your comment" in and of themselves do not count as a complete reply.  Rather, state why you liked or disliked the thread, add additional thoughts or ideas, and provide alternative ideas/thoughts when you disagree. 


Courtesy:  Courtesy in any disagreement is expected; thus, personal attacks or calling an idea "stupid,” or similar derogatory remarks are not acceptable and will reduce your grade.  The specific amount of this deduction is left to the discretion of the instructor. Again, in your replies always include appropriate APA standard citations and references for the assigned materials you are discussing, and an integration of a Christian worldview, using biblical themes where applicable.

  1. Post Due Dates:  Your original thread must be posted by Thursday at 11:59 p.m. (ET) of the applicable modules.  In Module/Week 8, the replies are due by the end of Friday.  You must post a 200 word reply to at least two of our classmates by Sunday at 11:59 p.m. (ET) of the assigned module/week.



  1. Baking a Cake:  Try thinking of writing as being similar to baking a cake and following a recipe.  Obviously, you will need to know the ingredients of the cake, and the order in which the various items will be added to the mixture.  Similarly, before you start writing, you need to know what basic points you want to make and the order in which you are going to convey these points.


  1. Generate Your Ideas:  Before you start writing, take time to generate your ideas.  Try writing “bullets” first, that highlight the basic points you are going to make in your paper.  Below is a hypothetical list of some of the ingredients I want to include in DB Forum1.  (Notice that I have given my “cake” a descriptive title).


“Discussion Board Cake”


·         The integration of psychology and theology is not only possible, it is preferable.

·         Psychology is not inherently sinful; it just focuses on a different “level” of truth.

·         Understanding how our body and mind work is crucially important in counseling

·         Many theologians apparently have very little understanding of psychology.


  1. Organize Your Ideas:  After generating your list of potential ingredients, start rearranging the main points and put them in a logical sequence or order.  When organizing the points you want to make, realize that you may have to eliminate some ideas because they don’t “fit” into your logical argument.

  1. Make Each Important Point a Paragraph:  Each important point you want to make should be embodied in a paragraph.  Paragraphs should have one main topic only.  If you start a new topic, you should start a new paragraph.

  1. Eliminate Extraneous Ingredients:  Like a recipe, your paper should follow a logical order and come to a conclusion at the end.  Don’t add extraneous “ingredients” to your “recipe.”  Keep to the topic.  Everything should flow to a logical conclusion.  Each paragraph in your paper is analogous to an ingredient. 

  1. Connect Paragraphs With Appropriate Transitions:  Lead the reader through your post.  Keep the reader in mind as you progress through the post.  Each sentence should link to the previous sentence.  Each paragraph should link to the previous paragraph.  Use appropriate transitions when moving from one paragraph to another.

Please carefully read: “Meet the Paragraph” (This document will be emailed to you).

  1. Limit Your Paragraphs To Four Sentences:  Students often write ponderous paragraphs that go on, and on, and on…  Remember, the paragraph is that basic unit of thought/logic that you are using to develop your “argument.”  For heuristic purposes, I am going to impose a four sentence limit on paragraphs—five at the most.  Stick to four, unless you are an accomplished writer and you can develop your paragraph in a way that the reader does not get lost or miss the point you are trying to make.


Grammar and Punctuation

  1. Professional Academic Writing:  You are in graduate school, and the standards for acceptable writing are  much higher than they were for your undergraduate degree.  Write your post professionally.  It should reflect graduate level writing skills--proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling are extremely important. 

Before turning in your post, carefully check for grammatical errors, punctuation errors, spelling errors, etc.  Please consult the rubrics for your various assignments to view the general expectations for grammar and syntax.  Also, please consult the APA Publication Manual (6th edition), pages 87-124.

  1. Proper Use of Quotation Marks:  In American English, periods and commas ALWAYS come inside closing quotation marks!  The only exception is when parentheses are used at the end of a sentence (for example, when a citation or page number is given in parentheses at the end of a sentence).  See: “Quotation Marks and Punctuation.”

Incorrect:  Dr. Campbell said, “Please don’t make this mistake”. 

Correct:  Dr. Campbell said, “Please don’t make this mistake.”

 Please be careful to avoid making this error.

  1. Antecedent/Pronoun Agreement:  The pronoun should agree with its antecedent in number and gender.  This is one of the most common errors made by students.  You will receive separate handouts on how to avoid this type of error.  Please study the information provided.  See:  Pronoun-Antecedent; Pronoun-Antecedent; or, Pronoun-Antecedent.   In addition, you will receive a separate handout on this topic.

  1. Use of Commas:  Many students fail to understand the proper use of commas.  Commas are used to set off clauses, phrases, or words that come before the main clause.  There are many other rules for the proper use of commas.  Please carefully study the LU Writing lab PowerPoint presentation:  Commas


In addition to the PowerPoint presentation, please see the APA manual, pages 88-89.  Please note that a comma is to be used before the word “and” and “or” in a series of three or more items.  Students often mistakenly omit the comma in this situation.

Correct:  The participants were contacted at home, at school, and at work.

Correct:  He failed to call his brother, sister, or mother.

Also, please use a comma to separate two independent clauses joined by a conjunction (for example, the word “and”). 

Correct:  The student was posting on the internet, and no one noticed that he was cheating.

Use commas to set off prepositional phrases.  Here are some common prepositions:  about, above, across, after, against, among, at, before, behind, beside, between, by, except, for, in, into, on, over, under, upon.

Correct:  “For example,”   “In conclusion,”    “Upon hearing the whistle,”    “Under the circumstances,”   “Against this backdrop,”  “On one hand,” 

Comma errors also drive me crazy, so please carefully study the PowerPoint presentation and the APA Manual.

  1.  Semicolons:  A semicolon separates two independent clauses that are not joined by a conjunction.  An independent clause is a clause that can “stand alone” and make complete grammatical sense on its own.

For example, this is the first independent clause; it correctly connects the second independent clause. 

The semicolon is also used after a colon, to separate items in a series, like this:  first item in the series; second item in the series; and, the third item in the series.

  1. Avoid Being Erudite, Pedantic, or Magniloquent:  Write clearly and concisely.  Avoid lecturing or preaching.  Avoid using “big words” or fancy language.

  1. Two Spaces After Ending Punctuation Mark:  The APA Manual recommends placing two spaces—not one--after ending punctuation marks to aid in reading.  If you set up Word’s “Proofreading” correctly, Word will put a squiggly green line under the ending punctuation each time you do not put two spaces after the ending punctuation.

  1. Avoid “Fluff” and Non Sequiturs:  Do not try to “pad” your post with information that does not relate to the points you are trying to make.  Do not just “toss in” your ideas anywhere when you happen to think of them.

A non sequitur occurs when a word, idea, or thought is “dropped in” at a point in your text that has little or no relationship to the content, context, or logical flow of the discourse.  Here is an example:  “Christians sometimes forget that they are forgiven.  That’s the main reason I bought the new car.”


  1. Give Your Post a Name:  Giving your post a name, rather than just “GDB 1,” will help you focus on the main theme of your post—which is sometimes termed, the “thesis statement.”  The thesis statement represents the “bottom line” of the logical argument you are developing in your post.  Here is an example for Forum 1:

Some people, such as Jay Adams, think that psychology and theology are totally incompatible; in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.  That is, because psychology and theology both seek truth, they are already united in a common goal.  Psychology seeks to find truth by focusing on how the body and mind work. Theology seeks truth in God’s holy word, and through prayer and insights gained through the working of the Holy Spirit. Both disciplines seek truth—and “all truth is God’s truth.”      

(Please note:  I have not included citations in this example.  You would need to do so if you were making this post).

Title of my hypothetical DB Post:  Psychology and Theology Both Seek Truth.

  1.  Don’t Just Regurgitate Information from Your Sources:  Your fellow students and your professor are perfectly capable of reading the information contained in the materials/lectures that form part of this course.  Please do not just “describe” the opinions of other people or quote long passages of text. 

We are looking for evidence of the following:  Integrate, synthesize, compare, contrast, analyze, critique, take a different perspective, etc.

 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

If you closely paraphrase the work of someone else, make sure you properly cite the work in your post.  If you copy word-for-word from another source (i.e., direct quotations), then you need to provide the page number or paragraph number along with information regarding the author/s, and the year of publication.  Avoid unintentional or intentional plagiarism.

Brewer, G., and Peters, C., (n.d). [Insert audio lecture title or notes title].  Liberty University

Please go over the handout:  “Basic Citations and Reference Examples.”


Final Checklist for Blackboard Posts:

I have prepared a Final Checklist for the GDB  that I want you to use before submitting your post.  For your very first post, if it appears that you have failed to use the checklist (based on the quality of your post), I will not accept your post and you will be required to submit another post, together with a completed checklist, in order to receive a grade.