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Written by Linda Armstrong

Students are often confused as to how to write a discussion post. I use a trick that guarantees a good post. I think of talking with a friend. I just happened to read a great article on a topic my friend is not that familiar with and I want to explain what I learned from the article.

When you begin a conversation you always lead into it so that you have your friend’s attention. Let’s pretend you read an article, perhaps on the Science News site on the web, about farm raised fish. You could begin with a question.

“John, you eat fish every week or two don’t you? Do you pay attention to whether you are buying farm raised fish or wild caught fish?”

Now you have your friend’s or your classmate’s attention, so it is time to explain the material you learned.

“I recently read an article on Science News that explained the way farm raised fish are kept. Thousands of fish are kept together in a relatively small area They are so close that disease is a problem. It is also the fact that they are basically living in water filled with their own excrement. To combat the problem with disease these fish are fed antibiotics every single day. Additionally, since making money is the goal of the business, the fish are also fed hormones to increase their weight. Interestingly, but alarming, the males are given so many hormones that they morph into females. This means that when we eat farm raised fish, we are eating fish that are full of antibiotics and hormones.”

Now you wouldn’t just walk away from your friend at this point. You would sum up your ideas.

“I know that grocery stores label their fish as to whether they are farm raised or wild caught. Now I understand why wild caught are more expensive. But given that I don’t want food that is filled with antibiotics and hormones, I am going to buy wild caught fish from now on. Let’s do a bit more research. Take a look at the article and tell me what you think.” ScienceNews. (n.d.). Science News. Retrieved May 21, 2019, retrieved from https://www.sciencenews.org/ Now you have introduced your topic, explained the material in the article you read, referenced the article so your friend or classmates know where to look at the information, and offered a conclusion.

Since you are not speaking, but posting online, you want to write in Word and spell check your work before posting. Additionally, since you are posting to an academic forum you need to be able to find credible resources, and you need to be able to cite your reference source correctly. The OWL, Excelsior’s online writing lab is the place to go. There is a research link to help you learn strategies for research that are effective. It is almost as quick, and certainly more effective, to search for credible resources rather than using sites such as ask.com. The Citation and Documentation link aids you in learning to cite in APA style or MLA style. The OWL has the information you need to earn great grades in course discussions.

My name is Linda Armstrong and I am a faculty member at Excelsior College. I have a Masters of Biology Degree from the State University of New York and have been a professor for the last twenty years. I am an ecologist by specialty which means I primarily focus on the study of plants and animals and the environment. My graduate research work was on the reintroduction of the peregrine falcon into New York State. No one may study ecology without focusing on evolution, for the adaptation of the biotic parts of any ecosystem is what drives ecology.

My primary hobby within the field of biology is ornithology, and because of that I have traveled extensively to other countries to look at birds. I have never been able to decide whether the arctic is my favorite place to visit or the jungles of Central America.