Engaging with course content
When we assess your discussion posts and papers, we are looking for evidence that you can explain key terms, engage with experts on the topic, and apply what you’ve learned to some real-world situation. We describe each term and how to accomplish each of these goals below.
In all discussion forums and papers, you will be required to “explain” some concept, idea, or topic. To do a good job, you want to go beyond simply copying and pasting a quote. If you do that, you are demonstrating that you can identify the section of Bevan that covers that content. But you are not offering your own independent “explanation” of an idea. Here is an example of someone “explaining” self-concept well:
Self-concept involves how we “conceptualize” ourselves at any given time. Bevan (2020) says that our ideas of self are influenced by four factors: how we compare ourselves to others, the cultural norms we embrace, how we think others “see” us (e.g. the “looking glass self”) and self-fulfilling prophecies. Though it is something “inside” our minds (intrapersonal communication), it is always influenced by our communicative interactions with others and assumptions about the meanings of those interactions. Therefore, interpersonal communication is central to how we think of ourselves.
Here we see the concept of self-concept is explained by pointing to the four factors that are central to the formation of the idea of self and the explanation touches on how our ideas of self are formed through our interpersonal and intrapersonal communication.
When we “engage” with a reading or video, we demonstrate that we are actively thinking through their ideas and trying to make sense of their points and the significance of those themes. In the last two sentences of the example above, you see the person is really thinking through both the meaning of self-concept and its significance. They are engaging with the content. Engaging will almost always involve explaining someone’s else’s ideas and then extending on those points and sharing examples to illustrate both meaning and significance.
For the forums specifically, instructors will be looking at how well you “engage” with the required reading and/or videos and how you engage with your classmates in the forums. We will assess you on whether you have mentioned something you have learned in class, and need to see citations to confirm this. Then, we will look to see how well you engage with students about something they have said. This shows that you are trying to meaningfully interact with the student and learn from each other through the exchange.
To “apply” what you’ve learned, it is important to share something that illustrates that you understand what is being discussed. So, above, by saying “Though it is something “inside” our minds (intrapersonal communication), it is always influenced by our communicative interactions with others and assumptions about the meanings of those interactions,” the person is starting to think through how this notion of self-concept works in the world. Our daily ideas of ourselves are influenced by the exchanges we have with others. To solidify this, the person could add something such as “When a co-worker tells me that they enjoyed my PowerPoint presentation, this boosts my ability to say to myself ‘I am good at PowerPoint presentations.” If I hear this enough, I stretch this out more into the identity marker “I am good at my job” or “I am a good worker.” Both of those start to get more fundamental claims about ourselves, as they are broader and more permanent ideas of self.
Okay. We hope this helps you gain a better understanding of what we look for you when we are assessing your papers and discussions.