How to Write a Substantive Discussion Replies

With the advent of online learning, online classes have become a norm of modern schooling. A key part of online classes is on discussion replies, which provides a platform for students and their instructors to interact through discussion replies. The interactions often revolve around their respective course’s lessons and ideas.

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For the average student, a threaded discussion is the perfect place for engaging other students in a good discussion. An initial discussion replie or introduction discussion replie is a student’s first post in a given discussion thread. From such a post, other students can chip in and provide answers or discussion board tips.

Providing a substantive response to a post on a discussion board is a great way to not only assist students in need but also keep a discussion alive. Discussion board responses appropriate to the original post are arguably what make or break a discussion thread. If you are not able to wrap your head around the discussion board concept, kindly head over to

How to Write a Substantive Discussion Replies


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How to Write a Substantive Discussion Replies

As mentioned before, threaded discussion replies are an integral part of online classes. They are an important platform for students to interact with other students and instructors almost daily. At these discussion boards, students can post information and their thoughts on discussion topics, postings by instructors, and postings by fellow students.

While you are often limited on the length, tone, and content of other people’s postings, you have total control over your own postings. Below is a guide on how to write substantive discussion replies.

Carefully Read the Directions/Guidelines

Usually, instructors provide one set of guidelines for original posts and a totally different set of expectations for replying to posts by other students. If your syllabus hardly provides any guidelines on how to reply to posts, never hesitate to consult your instructor. Ask your instructors what they generally expect replies to include or exclude.

Make Meaningful Conversation

Ideally, discussion boards are rich conversations meant to benefit everyone involved. Each post made in a discussion board should build on previous comments. The ability to respond to specific posts enables students to expand conversations as much as possible.

Always cite/reference material from class lectures, textbooks, or relate personal and professional experiences whenever possible. As a rule of thumb, avoid simply agreeing or disagreeing for the sake of continuing a conversation. This is responding constructively. Similar to construction, students can build on posts.

The three major ways students can constructively respond to posts are “no, because…”, “Yes, and…” and “yes, but…”

“No, because…”

This is respectfully disagreeing. It is normal for students not to agree with everything other students post on the discussion board. If you ever find yourself in such a situation of disagreement with other students’ posts, show your appreciation towards their opinions. Always appreciate other people’s opinions even if they differ from yours.

Never personally attack writers, and keep your responses devoid of emotional appeals. Instead, emphasize the logic behind other students’ points of view. Does their argument make sense? Do the cause and effects relations they mention relate to each other? Does each claim logically follow the previous claim? Are there any flaws in their arguments? Ask yourself such questions and more to better understand the student’s logic.


An example of a response to a discussion post on abortion could be:

“I respectfully disagree with your opinion on abortion. I hardly understand your concerns, but I think drug addiction does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with a fatherless life. Raised by a single mother, I have never known my father my entire life and have never done drugs. In your opinion, do you believe that all children who get raised without a father cannot achieve fulfilling, successful lives?”

Such a response is very respectful of the other student’s position, even if it shows strong disagreement.

“Yes, and…”

This involves agreeing with a post and expanding on it. It occurs when you agree with the main ideas of a specific writer and wish to add more on it. Take the original perspective or view that the other student expresses and expand on all its other angles.

A commonplace to begin is whether there are concerns about the topic that the other students did not mention. Also, consider whether you have meaningful insight that can help build the discussion or paint a better picture of the topic.

An example of a response that agrees with a discussion post on abortion could be:

“I clearly see and understand your view of a child’s quality of life. In fact, I personally know someone who has handled such an experience. I would also like to pose this question: What about women who are rape victims? Would their trauma automatically carry over to the child?”

In this response, you agree to the original posting and add another point. The additional point helps keep the conversation active and give it more depth by increasing the likelihood of other students to join in.

“Yes, but…”

This option is more or less like “yes, and…” However, the exception is that you essentially become the devil’s advocate. Taking this approach, you point out things that do not necessarily mesh with the opinion or view in the other students’ posts. Instead, you agree with what the other student mentions, but point out problems with their statement or view that make it more difficult to defend.

The following is an example of agreeing with a discussion post about abortion while disagreeing with certain parts:

“Without a doubt, the quality of life of children raised without both parents is worth considering. I am, however, doubtful whether staying and married is the major issue here. There are relations where unmarried people still receive support from their partners, hence giving their children to parental figures or parents if you may.”

If you frequently get deducted points in discussion board assignments and are not sure why never hesitate from consulting your instructor for constructive feedback. Another solution would be visiting for assistance. My Homework Writers not only provides assistance and essays, but it also reviews discussion board posts and replies. They are experts at providing constructive feedback to help students ace their discussion board assignments.

Remember Everyone in Your Class Can View Your Postings

An umbrella fact for nearly all your responses is that all your classmates can view your postings. Therefore, always bear in mind that every time you respond to individual student postings, you are essentially posting to the entire class.

Remember Everyone in Your Class Can View Your Postings


In a sense, the words you post will stay alive during the entire course. Always ensure your postings are a reflection of professional, dedicated instructors. Be certain that all course information and facts you provide are in harmony with the course material, i.e., class resources like textbooks. For more relevance, make sure your postings inspire students and reinforce key lessons learned throughout the course.

Abide by What You Expect of Other Students in Their Postings

Without a doubt, most students expect their peers to make substantive posts. On this basis alone, all your posts should be what you expect of others. Never berate your class or other students or express yourself using a negative tone.

If a student, in their posting requests for specific additional information in the responses, provide a general response to keep the discussion going. However, to adequately assist the student in need, send the student a private posting or email with the specific information they requested.

Always remember that your guidance may help other students. The discussion board is perhaps where you can have the greatest impact on fellow students.

Never Hide Your Personality and Humor in Your Responses

It goes without saying that online classrooms predominantly use written words rather than spoken words. Therefore, it is not feasible to rely on gestures, tone, facial expressions, and body language to accurately define our messages.

Some extent, punctuation helps serve this purpose. However, what works even better is injecting huge doses of occasional humor and an upbeat personality. This helps to build a strong rapport with other students, the instructor, and overall engaging the class. It is a fun way of involving the entire class in a constructive discussion.

How Do You Answer a Discussion Question?

Appropriate discussion board responses are usually a matter of debate among students and instructors. However, regardless of anyone’s opinion, the best discussion board responses demonstrate comprehension of both the question and course material. Also, the present cohesive arguments with substantial evidence to support it.

Below, we provide tips on how to generate effective discussion board responses. These tips for generating discussion board responses will help engage your audience and spark thoughtful responses to keep the discussion going.

Do Your Homework

Before typing any discussion board responses, go through all the assigned readings. As you check the readings, try and relate them to the question posed. Deeply immerse yourself in them to prepare your mind adequately for the writing ahead. This thorough preparation is essential for generating authentic, relevant, and useful discussion board responses.

Additionally, always check all the instructor’s feedback on past assignments. Checking this feedback and understanding it will help ensure you meet all expectations.

Carefully Read the Prompts

The major prompts you should look out for are:

  • Purpose: What reading or question are you trying to respond to?
  • Particulars: What sources should you refer to during your research? Is there a word limit? On what date and time is the response due?
  • Response Type: Should your response provide a solution to an issue, reflect on personal experiences, make an argument, or compare various ideas?
  • Formatting: As per the instructor’s guidelines, what formatting showed the discussion board responses follow? If, for whatever reasons, there are no strict guidelines on formatting, abide by general APA guidelines.
  • Expectations: Consult the instructor’s guidelines or course material to determine the assessment for discussion board responses.

Pique the Audience’s Interest with a Strong Perspective or Argument

Using evidence from course materials, build strong arguments, and support them. In a nutshell, do extensive research and proper citation. Thoroughly articulate your ideas and be very concise. Explore and uncover all layers of the respective discussion question, as this is how to get other students thinking beyond conventional limits.

Be Relevant

Whenever possible, always include professional or personal experience and support your arguments with relevant textual evidence. To resonate with your audience and inject value into the conversation, provide real-world applications to the ideas you mention.

Something worth remembering is always relating direct references to concepts in the learning material. Establish connections between such concepts with adequate evidence from relevant sources.

Make Your Discussion Board Responses Unique

Go the extra mile and provide responses that prompt your audience to think and respond to your answer. To connect all your ideas together, use topic sentences. Make sure the connections you develop go beyond the surface of the topic. Engage your audience by proposing unique perspectives that they can challenge or agree to.

Prepare Your Response in Text Editors before Posting

While often overlooked by many students, doing this can help ensure discussion board responses are free of mistakes. This will make sure all posts are coherent, complete, and cohesive. Being a discussion post does not give anyone a pass to delivering messy content. Always check your work for grammar and spelling.

Leave Your Audience Wanting More

After posting discussion board responses, probe even further by engaging with classmates and asking relevant follow-up questions. Actively engage in the conversation and add value to the discussion. Some of the most useful online discussions hardly end in the discussion forum. They linger in the students’ minds long after the discussion ends.


How Do You Write a Discussion Board Response?

Writing substantive discussion board responses is not necessarily a difficult task. The responses should be substantive in the sense that they actively contribute to the discussion. A good indicator of an actively contributing response is the number of thought-provoking ideas it provides the audience for consideration.

Substantive discussion board responses should provide direct answers to their respective postings. They should also make significant contributions to their relative topics. Vague discussion board responses like “good job” or “I agree” with minimal elaboration are not substantive. Instead, substantive discussion board responses ought to elaborate on the main ideas, expand on them, and engage the audience.

Below are some strategies for writing a successful discussion board response.


  • Comment on points made by other students. This is an excellent way to demonstrate to the instructors that you reflect and synthesize what fellow students write.
  • Consider the ideas under discussion and offer different perspectives if possible.
  • Describe interesting ideas from the current reading, mention how they apply to the topic at hand, and elaborate on the insights you developed from it.
  • Link everything you post to content in the course.
  • Provide relevant examples from both personal and professional life experiences.


  • Share similar comments or experiences on other students’ experiences.
  • Ask thoughtful questions.
  • Solicit opinions or comments from other students regarding your post.
  • Share additional resources or pieces of information. Consider adding links to external resources.


  • Play the devil’s advocate with your peers or respectfully disagree.
  • Establish connections by looking for similar experiences or ideas among postings made by other students and draw conclusions from them.
  • Acknowledge all the responses made to your posting from both students and instructors.

What Is a Thoughtful Response?

An essential part of online courses is responding to other students in discussion forums. In a discussion forum, students get to interact with each other and share individual perspectives. While responding to other students’ posts may seem very simple on the surface, many students struggle to create thoughtful responses.


As self-explanatory as it may seem, a thoughtful response is one “full of thought.” It demonstrates that some significant thinking went into generating a response. A thoughtful response promotes interaction among the students and keeps the discussion going on. These kinds of responses elaborate on ideas, expand on them, and engage the readers.


Factor in the Whole Class

While your responses will mostly address one student’s posting, always factor in the entire class since most of your classmates, if not all of them, will read your response. Always begin by acknowledging the view of the individual student, then proceed to offer your assistance.

Structure your response to not only assist the student in need but also other interested students. This lets the entire class know that your responses are not limited to a single student but rather provide information for everyone.

Include Personal or Professional Experiences Where Possible

Humans are inherently curious beings, and students and instructors are no exception to this. Many students and the instructor won’t mind a sneak peek into your life. Providing tidbits of your experiences beyond the classroom will make your responses more relatable and make you come across as trustworthy.

However, when applying this approach, always use the examples you provide for the benefit of highlighting, underscoring, and reinforcing lessons from the course.

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